(Relaxnews) -

Soybeans, which contain high amounts of the antioxidant tocopherol, has been linked to lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer, researchers from McGill University in Montreal say.

In their study of tocopherols and the concentrations and consistency in which they are found in soybeans, the researchers said that their presence could have important implications for the development of functional foods as well as in the treatment and prevention of diseases.

The a-tocopherol, one of the four forms of the molecules, has the most antioxidant capabilities and is converted to vitamin E in the human body, and so was the target of the researchers' investigation.

The higher the concentration of the beneficial tocopherol in the legume, the more healthy it could be and could help in the development of new value-added use for soybeans as well as diversify the market for soybean producers, the researchers said.

Results from the study are published in the September-October issue of Agronomy Journal. The research was also presented in Beijing, China at the 8th World Soybean Research Conference in August 2009.

Soybeans have been shown to have numerous health benefits because they  contain essential amino acids and are a key source of protein in many diets. Their high lecithin content helps lower blood cholesterol, improves cognitive functioning and has been used successfully in the treatment of diabetes.

Soybeans and soybean products (soyfoods like tofu, tempeh, textured soy protein and soymilk) have also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer and to deter lung disease.