According to a Columbia University-led study released earlier this month, eating foods that contain isoflavones — a key compound in soy milk, tofu, green tea and even peanuts — every day may help young adults lower their blood pressure, including a particularly impactful benefit for African Americans, who have hypertension prevalence rates near 42 percent.

"What’s unique about this study is that the results are very applicable to the general population. Our results strongly suggest a blood pressure benefit for moderate amounts of dietary isoflavone intake in young black and white adults," said Safiya Richardson, a graduating medical student at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and the study’s lead investigator.

"Our study is the first to show a benefit in African Americans, who have a higher incidence of high blood pressure, with an earlier onset and more severe end-organ damage."

Compared to those consuming less than 0.33 mg of isoflavones per day, those reporting the most isoflavone intake (more than 2.5 mg per day) had a significantly lower systolic blood pressure (–5.5 mmHg lower on average). To help put this into context, an 8 ounce glass of soy milk has about 22 mg of isoflavones, and 100 g of roasted soybeans have as much as 130 mg.

"This could mean that consuming soy protein, for example, in combination with a DASH diet — one that is high in fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains — could lead to as much as a 10 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure for pre-hypertensives, greatly improving their chances of not progressing to hypertension," said Richardson.

"Any dietary or lifestyle modification people can easily make that doesn’t require a daily medication is exciting, especially considering recent figures estimating that only about one third of American hypertensives have their blood pressure under control."

For more on the study, click here.