Tofu, also referred to as soybean curd is a popular food by compressing coagulating soy milk into white cubes and then cooling them.
This is the same method used to manufacture cheese by curdling and solidifying milk. For many centuries Tofu has been a favorite and staple in Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisine.
This protein-packed meat substitute is ideal for vegans and vegetarians globally because it contains no animal products whatsoever.
Like most soy foods, Tofu was first prepared in China. Legend has it that about two millennia ago, a Chinese chef stumbled upon it when he accidentally solidified soy milk by adding Nigari seaweed.
It did not reach Japan until some centuries later in the eighth centuries where it was christened Okabe.
Tofu was brought into the western world in the 1960s after people became interested in the healthy benefits of Asian dishes.
Nutritional Value and Benefits of Tofu
Tofu has a host of nutritional benefits including having a high protein content among all legumes as well as other nutritional values. The following are some of the nutritional values of Tofu:
1. The fats in Tofu are 78% unsaturated, contain absolutely no cholesterol and contain lecithin which is essential for good liver health.
2. At 65% of the recommended daily value of protein, Tofu is protein laden thanks to the soybean use it. Protein is a bodybuilding food that aids in the development and growth of muscular tissues in the body.
3. It contains a high amount of plant sterols or phytosterols that are beneficial for lowering the cholesterol levels in the blood.
4. Tofu contains one of the highest amounts of folates found in any type of food. This nutrient together with vitamin B12 is extremely essential components of cell division and DNA synthesis. The consumption of food rich in folates around conception or pregnancy has been found to lower the risk of neural tube defects in newborn babies.
5. Thanks to soybeans, Tofu contains a high amount of the antioxidants Isoflavones. Some other antioxidants that also exist in Tofu include genistein, daidzein, and glycetein. Isoflavones have been found to be especially responsible for reducing the risk of suffering from osteoporosis and post-menopausal cancers.
6. Tofu carries a high amount of the pyto-estrogen known as formononetin. This plant compound has been found to promote the regeneration of new blood vessels.
7. Tofu has been found to be one of the greatest source of numerous B complex vitamins including riboflavin, thiamin, pyridoxine, niacin, and pantothenic acid. Majority of these vitamins have been known to work as co-enzymes in fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism.
8. Tofu is one of the finest and richest sources of zinc, magnesium, manganese, selenium, calcium, copper, iron and phosphorus. All these come with a set of benefits to the body including boasting hemoglobin synthesis and promoting strong bones and teeth. Maganese is especially useful as co-factor for superoxide dismutase a potent antioxidant enzyme.
9. Tofu contains a good and adequate amount of calories that help in giving the body that desired energy boost.
Health Benefits of Tofu
Therefore, is Tofu healthy? Well, since Tofu was introduced in the western world various studies have been conducted to find out whether it has got any health benefits. While this has yielded positive results, it was also found that this amazing food is not for everyone. Its side effects are especially pronounced in certain individuals as we shall see in a short while.
i. Prevents the Occurrence of Osteoporosis
Tofu just like all soy products is a great source of calcium which helps in the formation of strong bones and teeth. Osteoporosis is a condition that arises when the body lacks adequate amounts of calcium to support strong bones. Senior citizens are more prone to this condition and should take Tofu in order to curb against its occurrence.
2. Prevents Anaemia
Tofu being a rich source of Iron, it prevents the occurrence of Anaemia. A drop in iron levels leads to a reduction in the number of red blood cells in the body causing Anaemia. Young adults should take Tofu because they are the most prone to Anaemia.
3. Aids in Weight Loss
People who are overweight need to observe a low-calorie diet so that their body can break down the stored fats and lipids. Tofu is helpful in this aspect as it is a low-calorie diet that is packed with other essential nutrients.
4. Eases Menopausal Symptoms
Isoflavones found in Tofu are essential in easing menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. This is because Isoflavones stabilize estrogen levels during menopause which alleviates. Women experiencing menopause should, therefore, introduce Tofu into their diet regimes.
5. Resolves Hair loss
People experiencing hair loss often opt for expensive hair treatments. Tofu can be of help as iy=t contains Keratin; a protein necessary for hair growth.
Side Effects of Tofu
- Reports have shown that infants fed on soy diet are at risk of contracting thyroid problems. This risk is further increased in those infants with congenital hypothyroidism. It is therefore advised that children who suffer from this condition should avoid consuming soybean products including Tofu.
- The phytoestrogen found in high amounts in Tofu acts like the female hormone estrogen. When taken in excessive amounts phytoestrogen inhibits the natural production of estrogen. For this reason, women who are battling breast cancer or who have a family history of breast cancer should avoid taking Tofu.
- People who are allergic to soy products should refrain from taking Tofu because it is made 100% of soy milk.
- Tofu and other soy products contain a high amount of Oxalate. Individuals with a history of kidney stones containing oxalate should avoid taking Tofu.
We have seen, Tofu is laden with nutrients that help boost your health and fitness. It should, however, be consumed with care owing to its side effects to certain groups of people.
Tofu has however been found to be safe for most people or when taken as a dietary supplement for a short time.
With this assurance, we hope you can incorporate this amazing nutrient-rich food into your diet in order to better your health.