Tofu or bean curd is the name given to a food produced by curdling soy milk, made from soy-beans, and pressing the result into blocks. This process, which originated at least 2000 years ago in China, produces a nutrient packed food source which is especially rich in protein and for this reason often forms a staple of vegetarian diets.
Tofu had very little flavor or smell of its own but strongly absorbs the flavor of other foods, herbs and spices it is cooked with and is used in many traditional Asian dishes.
It is considered a healthy eating choice as it contains no salt, few calories and very little saturated fat. So is tofu bad for you or a healthy food choice? Let’s find out.
Calories in Tofu
All daily values are given per 100 grams of tofu.
1.) Iron – containing 30% of the recommended total daily intake, tofu is a good source of iron.
2.) Calcium – up to 10% of the recommended daily intake of calcium can be provided by tofu but not all tofu contains calcium depending on the process by which it was made. Check the nutritional information of the product you buy to check for the calcium content.
3.) Magnesium – the same applies here as for calcium so you will need to check the particular product you buy.
4.) Protein – tofu provides 15% of our total daily requirement for protein.
5.) Copper – 11% of daily requirement
6.) Phosphorus – 11% of daily requirement
7.) Selenium – 12% of daily requirement. Some studies suggest that selenium deficiency may have links with higher incidences of cancer. Selenium plays an important role in the body’s defense system through anti-oxidation.
8.) Omega-3 fatty acids – 14% of daily requirement. This essential fatty acid is said to improve cholesterol levels in the blood while playing a significant role in maintaining a healthy immune system. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.
9.) Fiber – very low levels as most of the fiber content is lost in processing.
Is Tofu Bad for Health?
As already shown above through the inclusion of certain minerals, tofu has anti-inflammatory, possibly anti-carcinogenic and anti-oxidant properties.
It is thought that tofu can play a significant role in reducing the risk of heart disease where tofu is included as part of a diet low in saturated fat and sodium.
As there are only 76 calories in every serving of 100 grams of tofu it is an excellent addition to any weight loss diet. Many dieters find tofu helpful for inclusion as it can bulk up a dish without being fattening.
Many people believe that the the phytoestrogen isoflavones found in tofu are beneficial for menopausal symptoms and there is some evidence to support this, although not conclusively so. Arguments until here definitely say that tofu is not bad for you and can in-fact be a healthy food choice. But let’s also look at the negative aspects of tofu.
Can Tofu Cause Weight Gain?
There are very few foods that don’t have something against them on the negative side and tofu is no exception. Recently, several concerns have been raised over the previous claims made for tofu as a health food.
There is much controversy over the issue as to whether or not tofu can play a part in relieving symptoms of the menopause. Furthermore, while discussing tofu’s phytoestrogen content it is worth noting that many people are starting to believe that an excess of estrogen or estrogenic like agents in our food and environment contribute to obesity, infertility and other health concerns.
There have also been some links made between soy food and thyroid dysfunction.
As of 2007, 91% of soy-bean production in the US comes from genetically engineered crops. The subject of genetically modified crops is of course an issue all on its own, with many arguments both for and against but nonetheless the fact needs to be mentioned here for balanced argument purposes.
Tofu can be purchased as extra firm or firm blocks and also as ‘silken’ tofu which has a viscous consistency and is often used in sauces, dressings, drinks and desserts.