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Tofu: Benefits, Risks, And More

Fact-Checked

Tofu is basically soy milk that has been coagulated. It has its origins in China and is a staple food in many Southeast and East Asian cuisines, including those from Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

Depending on where and how the tofu is made, the setting agent may be an acid, salt, or enzyme coagulant (or sometimes a combination of these three).

Block tofus are pressed to remove moisture. The longer they are pressed, the firmer they become. Silken tofu is placed directly in the container it is packaged in.

This soy-based protein, Tofu, is a plant-based, nutrient-dense component of any diet because it belongs to the legume and bean family.

But that little description hardly does any justice to tofu. Tofu is challenging to sum up, much like many of the complex and significant items in this world. Tofu resists simplicity and is very complex.

Tofu could be made in numerous ways and comes in countless textures and shapes, including sheets of malleable yuba which could be used as silky tofu and dumpling wrappers that are as soft as pudding.

Tofu could be baked, fried, braised, frozen, and grated. In this article, we will get to know all about tofu.

What Is Tofu?

Tofu is manufactured in a similar way as that cheese. Curdled soybeans are pressed into tofu blocks.

Tofu is a rich source of nigari, which is what you will find tofu soaking up when you first open it.

Nigari is the main contributor to the distinctive texture and shape of tofu. Tofu may[1]also be fortified with nutrients like Vitamin B12 or calcium, depending on the brand you purchase.

People who practice vegan diets or are vegetarians generally get sufficient amounts of these nutrients.

Tofu Nutritional Value

Since there are numerous varieties of tofu available, always read the label to determine the exact nutrition facts.

Here[2]are the nutritional values for 3 ounces of extra-firm nigari-prepared tofu:

  • Calories: 80
  • Protein: 8 grams (20 percent of daily value)
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Carbohydrate: 1 g
  • Saturated fat: 1 g
  • Fiber: 1 g (3.5% of daily value)
  • Calcium: 285 milligrams (22.5% of daily value)
  • Sugars: 1 g

Benefits Of Tofu

Here are some of the benefits of tofu:

  1. Less Cholesterol

    Compared to meat, tofu has lower levels of cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and triglycerides.

    In other words, if you regularly replace meat with tofu, it could[3]help you greatly lower these statistics.

    This is perfect news for those who want to prevent high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, and for those who currently have these diseases.

  2. Helps In Muscle Building

    Growth hormone and nitric oxide are both elevated by tofu, which also enhances the blood flow to the muscles which helps in muscle building.

    Contrary to widespread perception, men’s testosterone levels are not decreased by eating tofu.

    For vegetarians and vegans, especially after weight-lifting workouts, tofu is the ideal post-workout meal since it includes all the critical amino acids that[4]your body cannot synthesize.

  3. Lowers Heart Disease Risk

    Isoflavones are found in tofu. Because isoflavones could lower LDL cholesterol, they may[5]help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

    By preventing the production of proteins or cytokines that promote heart inflammation, factors leading to the development of heart diseases could be greatly reduced.

  4. Reduces Cancer Risk

    Selenium, which[6]is abundant in tofu, is a potent antioxidant that fights free radicals that are known to cause cancer, including colon, prostate, and breast cancer.

    Tofu’s high lignin content reduces post-menopausal women’s risk of developing breast cancer.

    Daidzein and genistein, two isoflavones found in tofu, reduce the risk of cancer, especially prostate cancer, by preventing the activation of proteins that stimulate the formation of cancer cells and reducing inflammation.

    Furthermore, tofu’s fiber content lowers the risk of colon cancer.

  5. It Helps With Better Sleep

    Magnesium consumption should[7]be increased if you want to sleep better. Because one serving of tofu contains 13% of the recommended daily intake for magnesium, eating more of it may improve your ability to sleep.

    By preserving proper levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter involved in deep sleep, magnesium promotes restful sleep.

    On the other hand, inadequate GABA levels are a factor in restless sleep and insomnia.

    Therefore, it’s critical to maintain appropriate GABA levels throughout the day so that falling asleep at night is simple.

    You may maintain optimal levels by consuming tofu together with other high-magnesium plant foods like legumes, nuts, and dark leafy greens.

  6. Anti-Aging

    Chemicals known as isoflavones are present in tofu. Since they have both indirect and direct antioxidant properties, they could delay the onset of premature aging.

    They also bind to estrogen receptors found in breast cells and various other human tissues, which may lower the risk of breast cancer.

Risks Of Tofu

Tofu has advantages as well as disadvantages. After listing the advantages, it is only fair that also you should know of the potential hazards associated with consuming tofu.

Even though these hazards are quite small, they should be taken into consideration for the what-if scenario when it comes to specific tofu intakes.

It’s important to note that a number of these issues have contradictory findings. In other words, while some people have discovered clear benefits, others have found the opposite.

To start, there are some tofu additives that could impact the food’s overall health, but this often only occurs with processed foods like tofu sausages.

Although it may appear like tofu carries this risk, it is actually a result of the additives used in some products, not tofu.

Therefore, purchasing tofu that has undergone less processing will help you avoid any potential hazards.

If you are concerned about this, we advise staying with foods like raw tofu that you have prepared yourself, tempeh, and soymilk.

The next tofu concern is specific to men, but there hasn’t been enough focus on it for adequate research to be done, so there isn’t any trustworthy proof for or against the claims.

Tofu’s phytoestrogen may, however, have a feminizing effect, according to some people.

Male breast development (gynecomastia) becomes a problem as a result, and it may potentially affect fertility and may[8]also cause breast cancer in women.

However, keep in mind that this effect is negligible and insufficient to recommend that men or infants should avoid tofu.

There are potential risk issues, as with other food, but there isn’t any concrete proof that this is cause for concern.

However, there are numerous advantages to show that adding tofu to your diet may improve your health.

Is Tofu Good For You?

Tofu is healthy, so there’s no need to be afraid of this vegetarian mineral-rich protein source.

Given that tofu is made from soybeans, it has a wealth of nutrients, including omega-3 acids like alpha-linolenic acid, phenolic acids, heart-protecting isoflavones, heart-protecting saponins, and calcium.

It also contains a lot of iron and protein, which is crucial for those who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet as well as pregnant women who may be deficient in this nutrient.

In addition, those who drink the most isoflavones had systolic blood pressure readings that are 4 points lower on average than those who consume the least of them.

Isoflavones may[9]boost nitric oxide, which aids in improving blood flow in the arteries.

It is believed that substituting tofu for meat may lower blood cholesterol, hence lowering the risk of heart disease.

Conclusion

Tofu is a respectable source of vegan and vegetarian protein that is high in essential nutrients like magnesium and calcium, and low in saturated fats and calories.

It qualifies as a “complete protein” for your body since it contains all 9 of the required amino acids.

Heart-healthy isoflavones found in soy have positive effects on blood arteries and could increase blood flow.

In comparison to other vegan proteins that are only sold at specialty food stores, it is widely accessible and also affordable.

Everyday use of tofu is completely safe for everyone. This delectable vegetarian protein is a wonderful substitute for meat in a vegan diet and could be used in almost any pasta, soup, or stir-fried dish.

The majority of tofu products are 100% vegan, with very few exclusions, however, vegan dieters should always read food labels to be safe.

The organic and sprouted tofu varieties, which are readily accessible at most grocery shops, are your best bet if you want to get the most health advantages from this delicious superfood.

References/Sources

Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.
 
  1. C. R. Rekha and G. Vijayalakshmi Influence of processing parameters on the quality of soycurd (tofu) J Food Sci Technol. 2013 Feb; 50(1): 176–180.Published online 2011 Feb 11. doi: 10.1007/s13197-011-0245-z
  2. Tofu, raw, regular, prepared with calcium sulfate Available from:https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172476/nutrients
  3. Yoko Takahashi, Tomokazu Konishi, Kohji Yamaki Tofu and fish oil independently modulate serum lipid profiles in rats: Analyses of 10 class lipoprotein profiles and the global hepatic transcriptome PLoS One. 2019; 14(1): e0210950.Published online 2019 Jan 17. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210950
  4. Ngozi M. Eze, Ukamaka G. Okwume, Chiedu Eseadi, et al. Acceptability and consumption of tofu as a meat alternative among secondary school boarders in Enugu State, Nigeria Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Nov; 97(45): e13155.Published online 2018 Nov 9. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000013155
  5. Mark Messina Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature Nutrients. 2016 Dec; 8(12): 754.Published online 2016 Nov 24. doi: 10.3390/nu8120754
  6. Lin Yan, George L Graef, Philip G Reeves, et al. Selenium bioavailability from soy protein isolate and tofu in rats fed a torula yeast-based diet J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Dec 23;57(24):11575-80. doi: 10.1021/jf901985t. Available from:https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19919094/
  7. Behnood Abbasi, Masud Kimiagar, Khosro Sadeghniiat, et al. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial J Res Med Sci. 2012 Dec; 17(12): 1161–1169.
  8. Qianghui Wang,Xingming Liu, Shengqiang Ren Tofu intake is inversely associated with risk of breast cancer: A meta-analysis of observational studies PLoS One. 2020; 15(1): e0226745.Published online 2020 Jan 7. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226745
  9. Giorgia Sebastiani,Ana Herranz Barbero,Cristina Borrás-Novell,et al. The Effects of Vegetarian and Vegan Diet during Pregnancy on the Health of Mothers and Offspring Nutrients. 2019 Mar; 11(3): 557.Published online 2019 Mar 6. doi: 10.3390/nu11030557
 

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