What is Tofu?
To keep it simple, tofu is bean curd. Made by mixing water with soybean milk, tofu has become one of the most popular superfoods despite having been exclusive to Asia up until quite recently. Off-white in color, tofu has been described as the ‘cheese of Asia’ as it resembles cheese to a certain extent.
Origins & History
Like many superfoods, tofu was also discovered by the Chinese two millennia ago. In China, it is known as ‘doufu’. Tofu is the Japanese variant of the name and it has come to be known by it the world over. For a long time, tofu was not used widely in the West. It has been over the past decade or so that it has become easily available there.
Types of Tofu
There are three main types of tofu, namely:
- Firm, the most commonly used form of tofu, in solid blocks.
- Soft, a softer version of tofu primarily for recipes where tofu has to be blended.
- Silken, also used for blending because of its creamy structure.
The nutritional profile of tofu is vast enough to rival any other superfood available to you. It is rich in protein while being low-fat, thereby doubling the nutritional value right away. Yet, these are not the only nutrients you get through tofu. Let’s look at them in some detail.
Protein is, without a doubt, one of the most important nutrients for your body. A single serving of tofu has enough protein to make up over 18% of your required daily intake. More importantly, since tofu is made from soybeans, it is rich in soy protein as well. Among other health benefits, soy protein is extremely effective at preventing heart problems.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The heart health benefits of tofu are further enhanced by the omega-3 fatty acids it contains. Like protein, a single serving of tofu makes a considerable portion of your daily requirement of omega-3 fatty acids. You can find omega-3 in soft gels at vitacost.com. Check for vitacost coupons here.
Tofu is rich in iron as well. Iron is crucial for your body to maintain bone and muscle health. You can get 33% of your iron requirements for a day by eating tofu just once.
Simply getting the iron your body needs is not enough. You have to make sure your red blood cells are able to absorb and use it. For that, your body requires copper which is also present in tofu, though not in the same quantity as iron or protein.
Many health problems are caused by free radicals in your body. Your body needs antioxidants to fight them off, which you can get through the selenium present in tofu. Moreover, antioxidants boost your appearance by boosting skin health and limiting the signs of aging.
An Alternative to Meat
Apart from being a popular superfood, tofu has also been hailed as an alternative to meat. Given the increasing trend of people venturing towards veganism, tofu can make up the nutritional gaps caused by the lack of meat in their diet. One of the major concerns for people practicing veganism is that their nutritional intake suffers. A large part of the required nutrients they get is through meat, especially protein. As you can see above, tofu is rich in various nutrients.
Even for meat eaters, seeking a healthier alternative is a great option. This can reduce the health hazards posed by consuming meat excessively, especially red meat. The common health problems you can face due to meat consumption including high blood cholesterol and hypertension. In other words, eating too much meat can harm your heart health. Tofu is rich in good cholesterol and omega-3 fatty acids, hence removing all the harmful effects meat can cause to your health.
Tofu is one of the few superfoods that can be considered a healthier alternative to fish. Moreover, it is economical and easily available, giving you all the more reason to reduce your meat consumption and replace it with this incredibly healthy superfood from Asia. There are some great recipes you can try to get over the bland taste and add tofu to your regular diet.
Health Benefits of Tofu
To say that tofu provides many health benefits is stating the obvious. The list of nutrients is enough to show that. Here’s an overview of the major health benefits you get through eating tofu.
Muscle and Bone Health
Tofu strengthens your bones and muscles, preventing major problems like arthritis and bone loss. Stronger muscles and bones are made possible by the rich dose of iron and calcium you get in a single serving.
Tofu has a lot of isoflavones that act like estrogen. This is particularly useful for women during menopause. This ensures there is sufficient estrogen in the body and no hormonal imbalance occurs. Also, keeping the estrogen count at a normal level helps the body fight off breast cancer among other health issues.
The heart health benefits of tofu have been highlighted above. It not only prevents heart problems but also improves the levels of good cholesterol and boosts the body’s omega-3 fatty acids count.
Despite being packed with a load of nutrients, tofu is low on calories. There are many recipes you can try which don’t have a high calorie count yet enable you to enjoy the health benefits of tofu. A single serving has hardly more than 100 calories. So, if you are looking for a food that can help you reduce your calorie intake and enhance weight loss, tofu is an ideal option.
Isoflavones are also known to prevent prostate cancer in men. They fight off the cancer cells and prevent it from growing. Also, they keep the size of the prostate gland in check.
Overall, eating tofu as part of your daily diet will make you feel and look better. It can do wonders for your personality and confidence and help release your stress as well.
There are some health risks tofu poses, which requires you to take some precautions when eating it. Here are the considerations you have to make.
Tofu is made primarily from soybean, so people with a known history of allergy to soybean should avoid it. If you get a food allergy after eating tofu, consult with a doctor to diagnose the underlying condition which caused the reaction.
Tofu is rich in oxalates. Though the substance is not harmful, too much of it can lead to health problems. People with issues in the digestive tract need to be careful about this.
Make sure the tofu you consume has been made from organic soybean seeds and all the other ingredients are natural as well. Processed soybeans can cause minor health issues.
Keep these considerations in mind before eating tofu so that you can benefit from this superfood without any risks whatsoever.