Tofu intake is associated with poor cognitive performance among community-dwelling elderly in China

© 2015 IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved.Tofu is a soy product which is commonly consumed in Asian countries, such as China and Indonesia. Several studies found negative associations of high tofu consumption with cognitive function in older Asian populations. However, the effect of tofu on cognitive function remains disputed as it was not found in Western populations. In the present study, the effect of weekly tofu intake on cognitive performance was investigated in an observational cross sectional study of 517 Chinese elderly from Shanghai. Similar to earlier studies, results showed that a higher weekly intake of tofu was associated with worse memory performance using the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test (β =-0.10, p = 0.01) after controlling for age, gender, education, being vegetarian, and weekly intake of fruit/juice, green vegetables, and orange/red vegetables. Furthermore, among older elderly (≥68 years of age), high tofu intake increased the risk of cognitive impairment indicative of dementia (OR = 1.27, 95% CI = 0.99-1.64, p = 0.04), after adjusting for all covariates. Consumption of meat and green vegetables independently also reduced risk of dementia. To conclude, high intake of tofu was negatively related to cognitive performance among community-dwelling elderly in China. Similar findings were reported in Indonesia and in Japanese Americans in the US. These findings suggest that the effect of tofu on cognition in elderly should be further investigated.