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Am J Clin Nutr. 1990 May;51(5):873-80.

Effect of traditional oriental soy products on iron absorption.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.


The effect of a variety of traditional oriental unfermented and fermented soy products on iron absorption was evaluated in 242 Indian women. When compared with a soy-flour meal containing an equal amount of protein, iron absorption was found to be significantly improved with silken tofu, natto, tempeh, rice miso, barley miso, and soybean miso. This improvement could not be adequately explained except with reference to changes in the protein composition of the products. The protein fraction profiles of the soy products were obtained by size-exclusion high-performance liquid chromatography. An inverse relationship between food iron absorption and the high-molecular-weight fraction of the soy products was demonstrated (r = 0.66, p = 0.01). However, anomalous results obtained with three products (sufu, tempeh, and fully hydrolyzed isolated soy protein) did not make it possible to reach firm conclusions concerning the effect of the protein fraction of soy on iron bioavailability.

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