Tofu is a healthy food made from soybeans. There is a large debate on its health benefits in which some researcher didn’t found enough evidence, while others discovered that it is a genetically modified food to avoid.
You may wonder whether to use tofu or not? Let us have a complete view of tofu and its health benefits.
What is Tofu?
Table of Contents
Tofu is prepared from condensed soy milk that is compressed into solid white blocks similar to cheese. Basically, tofu is originated in China.
It is said that a cook from China found tofu more than 2,000 years back when he accidentally mixed soy milk with nigari. Nigari is a leftover of seawater after removing the salt. It is a rich mineral coagulant mixed with soy milk to get a solid form as tofu.
The US is a foremost country to grow soybeans, and a large amount of it is genetically modified (GMO).
However, tofu is involved in genetically modified controversies. However, the research has not discovered any evidence that it will harm human health.
Still, if you scare of getting harm to your health from genetically modified tofu, then there is an option to use organic tofu which is not genetically modified.
Tofu gives high protein. It also holds all the necessary amino acids required for the body. It also gives carbs, fats, and an extensive variety of minerals and vitamins.
Amounts – Per Serving
- Calories 76.0(318 kJ)
- Protein 28.0(117 kJ)
- Fat 40.0(167 kJ)
- Alcohol (0.0 kJ)
- Carbohydrate 7.9(33.1 kJ)
- Amounts – Per Serving
- Dietary Fiber-0.3 g
- Total Carbohydrate 1.9 g
- Starch – Nil
- Sugars – Nil
Fats & fatty acids
- Amounts – Per Serving
- Total Fat 4.8g
- Saturated Fat 0.7 g
- Monounsaturated Fat 1.1 g
- Polyunsaturated Fat 2.7 g
- Omega-3 fatty acids 319 mg
- Total trans fatty acids ~
- Tans-monoenoic fatty acids ~
- Total trans-polyenoic fatty acids ~
- Total Omega-6 fatty acids 2380 mg
Protein & amino acids
- Amounts – Per Serving
- Protein 1 g
- Amounts – Per Serving
- Vitamin A 0 IU
- Vitamin C 1 mg
- D Vitamin ~
- Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol) ~
- Vitamin K ~ ~
- Thiamin 1 mg
- Riboflavin 1 mg
- Niacin 2 mg
- Vitamin B6 0 mg
- Folate 0 mcg
- Vitamin B12 0 mcg
- Pantothenic Acid 1 mg
- Choline ~
- Betaine ~
- Amounts – Per Serving
- Calcium 350 mg
- Iron 4 mg
- Magnesium 0 mg
- Phosphorus 0 mg
- Potassium 121 mg
- Sodium 0 mg
- Zinc 8 mg
- Copper 2 mg
- Manganese 6 mg
- Selenium 9 mcg
It appears with only 70 whole calories, which offers tofu highly nutrient-dense food.
In the vitamin side of tofu nutrition, it has a vital amount of vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin B6, and riboflavin. It also holds smaller quantities of niacin and pantothenic acid.
However, the content micronutrient in tofu can change depending on the usage of coagulant. Including nigari add high magnesium while induced calcium increase the calcium content.
What is the content of Tofu?
Like other plant-based foods, tofu also provides many antinutrients including:
These synthesis block trypsin, it is an enzyme required for the digest of protein in a proper way.
Phytates can decrease minerals absorption, such as zinc, calcium, and iron.
However, cooking or soaking soybeans may cause to eliminate or inactivate some nutrients.
Growing soybean sprouts before making tofu decrease the phytates around 56% and trypsin inhibitors around 81% while also boost the protein content by 13%.
The fermentation of tofu lower down the anti-nutrients. It is the reason, fermented soy foods such as miso, tamari, tempeh, and natto contain low anti-nutrients.
Remember, the antinutrient of tofu is not a cause of worry unless you have a poor and imbalanced diet and depend on tofu as the main food, especially for zinc and iron.
Tofu contains isoflavones
Soybeans comprise natural plant syntheses called isoflavones. These work as phytoestrogens, meaning that they can connect to and stimulate estrogen chemical structures in your body.
It creates effects comparable to the hormone estrogen, even though they are lighter.
Tofu holds 20.2–24.7 mg of isoflavones per 100-gram (3.5-ounce). Many of the tofu health benefits have a link with its content of high isoflavones.
Different Types of Tofu
Tofu is available in the form of soft and hard with 70-90% moisture content and 5% to 16% of protein.
You can generally get tofu types such as soft, regular, silken, and extra firm. The soft and silken types of tofu contain less fat and fewer calories because of the high amount of moisture than the extra firm tofu varieties.
Note: the soft tofu contains low fat.
The silken tofu can be utilized in dressings, desserts, and dips in replacement of sour cream or mayonnaise.
You can use soft tofu for making breakfast shakes, lasagna, veggie purée, and fruit. Regular tofu is related to the firm type, having lower moisture content.
Firm and extra-firm tofu types are solid and can hold molds and shapes like an imitation of egg salads, fruit salad, sandwich fillets, and veggie salads, soups, stir-frys, meatless barbecue.
Health Benefits of Tofu
Tofu, as a soy product, provides different health benefits.
Generally, cholesterol levels start to develop with age. Doctors advise taking early moves to prevent a harmful build-up of cholesterol. Children are less likely to get cholesterol problems, but still, you require to have their cholesterol levels monitored at least once or twice before they can turn 18 years old.
However, if the person or child has a risk factor, which contributes to high cholesterol, then they should be diagnosed regularly.
Typically, men have more chances of developing high cholesterol than women. As men age increase, then their cholesterol level increase. Whereas, women develop cholesterol level when she undergoes in menopause.
Tofu is the best soy product. Adding it in your diet helps to lower bad cholesterol levels in the body. It can be the best replacement for animal protein to lower the bad cholesterol.
In comparison to beef, tofu contains low levels of saturated fats and contain a high amount of unsaturated fats. Tofu also contributes linoleic and lecithin acid to assists to manage metabolism by excreting accumulated cholesterol in the body.
Supports Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular health refers to the circulation of blood in the heart. If your blood vessels in the heart or the surrounding of the heart get narrow down, then it will risk life-threatening heart disease. An individual with heart problem family history can develop an increased risk of heart diseases such as stroke and heart attack. Getting a stroke can be a result of a blocked blood vessel which stopped blood circulation due to the plaque of cholesterol or any other substances of blood which will suddenly burst.
Adding tofu in your healthy diet helps to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Regularly consuming soy products significantly reduce the saturated fats along with bad cholesterol levels in your body.
According to the report of Food-and-Agriculture-Organization of the United Nations, tofu provides a low amount of sodium, which helps to manage your high blood pressure.
Tofu can be a weight loss diet-friendly ingredient. According to the study of China, soy-based foods provide low calories, which can support to reduce significant blood lipids and weight.
Scientists continue to discover that tofu helps to reduce appetite. Its compound of isoflavones and proteins helps to provide benefits for reducing weight.
You can have tofu as a snack during weight loss to prevent frequent hunger.
Weigh management having a link with cell sensitivity with glucose to regulate the insulin hormones. When cells able to resist insulin, the body produces more insulin, which damages the weight regulation process.
Tofu also helps to manage menopause symptoms such as weight gain, hot flashes, and night sweat.
Some women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome causes to produce more male hormones and experience weight gain and insulin resistance. Adding tofu in your everyday diet helps to prevent PCOS weight gain.
Support Brain Health
Tofu provides benefits for brain health by improving cognitive and memory functions in women with age of 65 years and above. The content of lecithin in tofu helps the body to produce phospholipids-phosphatidic acid and phosphatidylserine, which keeps neurons function normally.
According to population study in regions shows that individuals who eat more soy foods, they will get benefits to reduce age-related mental health disorders.
However, the study got mixed results. Another research group discovered that healing with soy isoflavones was associated with better performance in verbal fluency, nonverbal memory, and other mental functions. When the same research group continued a small study, which involves 65 people of age 60 years with Alzheimer’s, they did not receive any benefits from soy isoflavones for cognitive health.
Other findings of 2017 tell that soy product like tofu may benefit people with Alzheimer’s because of the lecithin content, which assists the body to produce phosphatidylserine and phospholipids-phosphatidic acid and promote neuron functions.
Benefit fatty liver damage
Fatty liver is a disease, which occurs when the fats or carbohydrates are consumed more than the liver can handle it. The excess fat is stored in the cells of the body. Over time, the fat begins to accumulate around the liver, which called a fatty liver. Fatty liver is when the liver contains more than 5-10% fats of its weight. It is a reversible health issue and can be healed with a healthy lifestyle. It may not show early symptoms, but diagnosis can prevent the growing symptoms. However, if this condition not treated early, then it can cause serious damage to the liver.
Tofu thickened with different coagulants helps to prevent liver damage induced by oxidative stress.
Adding tofu in your diet helps to assist the liver functions as it contains good antioxidants. It helps to lower the stress on the liver and promote the metabolism of different substances without a problem.
Additionally, tofu contains cholesterol-reducing effects, which is helpful for limiting fatty liver disease.
Human hair is made of keratin, which is a type of protein. Adding tofu in your diet helps your hair to get the required protein to generate new hair and keep existing healthy. Instead of spending on expensive treatment, consume tofu to solve your hair problems.
Promote Kidney health
There is a myth, having a protein-rich diet can contribute to kidney failure, which further requires dialysis and transplant.
However, this myth is unfounded because protein is an essential ingredient to support kidney functions.
Tofu is the best source of soy protein which supports kidney health by reducing blood lipid.
It is still important to consume limited protein because excess protein can build up in kidneys. Kidneys find hard to remove the extra protein. This condition creates more stress on kidney functions. People with kidney disease can consume a limited amount of protein diet. Protein consumption is important but limiting it while having kidney problem can help to delay the time of dialysis.
On the other hand, an individual with dialysis requires a high amount of protein in their diet because it helps to regulate blood protein levels. Dialysis eliminates all the protein waste from your blood, so there is no need to limit the protein.
Therefore, adding tofu in your kidney health diet may not harm you.
Reduce the risk of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a weakening bone disorder, which more common in women during post-menopause.
Osteoporosis is a disease that creates weakness in bones and makes more prone to injury. A sudden fall may quickly cause to fracture of the bone. This disease slowly develops from long time and effect on the bones such as the pelvis, arm. For some people, a sneeze or cough causes to fracture rib bone or partially collapse the spine bones.
This disease won’t make you feel pain until you get a fracture but having a spinal fracture can cause to have chronic pain.
Like other soy foods, tofu also holds isoflavones, which protect bone tissues against minerals leak. Isoflavones contain pseudo-estrogenic effect, which serves to prevent bone loss.
Manage blood glucose and Diabetes
Tofu provides another important benefit for managing blood glucose levels.
A diet full of proteins helps to slow down the glucose absorption in the bloodstreams, and tofu also benefits to manage blood glucose.
An individual consuming tofu in everyday diet can have a promising improvement in fasting blood glucose levels. Additionally, it improves insulin sensitivity. It means it will prevent insulin resistance and delay further complications.
The people who suffer from type-2 diabetes experience kidney diseases which cause the body to pass more protein in the urine.
Some studies evidence shows that having only soy protein like tofu in the diet helps to pass less protein than the people who only have animal protein.
When you combine lean protein like tofu with green vegetables, it will surely work to stabilize blood sugar.
Prevent Breast Cancer
According to some studies, consuming a diet rich with soy foods helps to prevent breast cancer in women. Including soy, food provides fewer effects for women who consume less soy or add it in later life. Adding soy food like tofu in regular diet and combining with other healthy food helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Some research tells that soy food cause to increase breast cancer risk. However, consuming a moderate amount of soy foods will not risk your breast cancer. You can have a moderate amount of whole soy food as one or two serving in everyday diet.
Do you wonder why some research shows that soy causes breast cancer risk?
Here is the answer that the content of isoflavone in soy foods is a plant-based estrogen. Having high levels of estrogen in the body causes to increase breast cancer risk. Therefore, it is clear, that tofu or other soy foods will not cause breast cancer unless you eat it in an excessive amount. Tofu provides a moderate amount of isoflavones, which may not increase estrogen levels.
Tofu is the best appetite for controlling food. Its content of fiber, protein, and calcium are an essential component to regulate the appetite.
Consuming a meal containing tofu keeps you full stomach for many hours and prevent hunger. You will no longer feel hungry to eat any snacks between meals. It means it makes you burn more calories and promote weight loss.
Reduce menopause symptoms
A woman, who consumes soy product has shown to relieve in the symptoms of menopause such as weight gain and hot flashes.
Hot flashes are unexpected feelings of heat, which generally occur on the face, neck, and chest. Your skin will get red like you are blushing. Hot flashes can also induce sweating. Losing more body heat may cause you to feel chilled later.
Tofu also contains phytoestrogens, which help to ease menopause discomfort.
The menopause symptoms different from women to women, hot flashes also occur less in Asian countries where women eat more soy.
Adding tofu in your diet helps to decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes.
Tofu benefits Prostate cancer
It is a controversial topic that to can benefit or risk prostate cancer.
Regular consumption of soy foods like tofu has a link with reduction of the prostate cancer risk development, mentioned in the new meta-analysis issued in Nutrients.
According to statistical results, consuming complete soy food showed a 30% reduction in risk when compared with the highest intake and lowest- said by a researcher from the University-of-Illinois-at-Urbana-Champaign.
The systematic review also did an analysis of soy intake effects based on dietary daidzein and genistein, which are two essential components of soy. The result showed a 10% reduction in prostate cancer was linked with the highest intake of genistein while compared with reduced intake. A similar risk reduction for daidzein was 16%.
Combining soy foods with unfermented and fermented items discovered a big difference between the two categories.
- Unfermented foods include tofu, soy milk, and soybeans.
- Fermented soy foods include natto and miso.
However, consuming more unfermented soy foods showed a 35% reduction in prostate cancer risk.
Whereas, fermented soy food was not shown potential benefits.
Improves PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Tofu includes phytoestrogens called daidzein and genistein, which is chemicals that available naturally in plants and shows estrogenic activity.
The estrogen levels fluctuation affects menstruation, fertility, ovulation, embryo, and implantation. The content of phytoestrogens in Tofu helps to regulate menstruation and promote ovarian function. It also boosts uterine health in women with premenopausal.
Note: Clinical data recommend to consume soy protein less than 100 mg per day. If consumed more soy, than it will reduce ovarian function.
How to buy and store Tofu?
When you look for buying tofu, make sure to check it is non-GMO or organic tofu. If you have opened the tofu pack, then keep it in a water-filled container in the refrigerator. Keep changing the water every day to prevent spoilage. This way, tofu can remain fresh for three to five days. You can also freeze it to continue its shelf life. Wash the portions of tofu after using in fresh water. Take out the excess water and freeze it in a good container.
You can freeze tofu brought from the store for four to five months. Deforested tofu has a caramel color of light brown and chewy texture. You can add tofu in salads, tofu, barbecue skewers to taste delicious.
Lastly, make sure to know if tofu is expired. Expired tofu will have a crumbly texture with a foul smell, and it will leave the moisture. Check out for its expiry date on the package label.
Myths about Tofu
If you think tofu as a tasteless food, then you are not the one. After seeing tofu it many people think it will be tasteless, but it can be the best ingredient to combine with other foods and enjoy a tasty diet. Here are some myths about tofu.
Myth 1: Tofu is bland.
It is a big misconception that tofu is bland. You can cook any recipe with tofu and make it even tastier. The best way to cook it in a tasty way is to take it out from water before cooking. Getting a taste in tofu would depend on your cooking.
Myth 2: Tofu doesn’t contain enough nutrients.
No, tofu provides enough nutrient to people who never like to eat animal meat. Animal meat provides healthy proteins, and the people who don’t eat it will have protein deficiency. But, thank god there is a meat replacement to get healthy protein. Additionally, tofu helps to promote weight loss plan.
Myth 3: Tofu is not good for women health?
Many research tells eating tofu can cause breast cancer due to the estrogen effect of isoflavones. But a study of Shanghai-Breast-Cancer-Survival-Study which shows eating soy food helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women. You can eat whole soy foods like tofu and soy milk.
Myth 5: Tofu doesn’t have different recipe options?
Tofu is a versatile food to cook different recipes. Firm tofu is the best replacement for meat life beef and chicken recipes. Vegetarian people would enjoy this plant-based food in place of animal meat.
Tofu is a good and a similar substitute for the meat we can have in our meals. As it contains nutrition and phytochemical composition, tofu provides the above benefits and added in many cuisines over the globe.
There is no more evidence of the adverse effects of isoflavones that it may harm men and women health. However, tofu needed to combine with other healthy foods to have a balanced diet.
However, it depends on your health to adapt to the benefits of tofu. If any of your family members have allergy with soy, then try testing with a small portion. You can also check with health expert while consuming tofu for the first time.