Tofu is a byproduct of soy beans that boasts a wealth of different health benefits, including a lower risk of cancer, anemia, and osteoporosis, as well as lower cholesterol levels. It also helps in maintaining cardiovascular health and is a good source of protein. It has been a common ingredient in global cuisines, such as Chinese food, for many centuries. The word tofu is of Japanese origin and is a common form of soy beans eaten throughout many Asian countries.
It is easily available in markets all over the world and can also be prepared at home. Tofu is a food product that is produced by the coagulation of juice squeezed from soy beans. The extracted soy juice is then pressed into white blocks that are white in color. Apart from the Asian cuisines that incorporate the use of tofu, it is frequently used in various restaurants and homes all over the world.
The use of tofu is mainly seen in the preparation of sweet dishes after marinating in order to blend well with the main dish. Most chefs use it because of its subtle flavor, which is necessary when the intention is to bring out the other types of tastes and flavors contained in that particular food. This has transformed the meaning that was given to soy beans and any of its products, which were once referred to as ‘protein for the low class/poor’.
Nutritional Value of Tofu
Tofu is low in calories but high in protein. It is also a good source of various minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, and potassium. In terms of vitamins, it contains vitamin D, A, B6, C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate.
Health Benefits of Tofu
High Protein Content: The human body needs protein for it to function properly. Contrary to the belief of most people, protein is not only available in meat and meat products. Vegetarians also get the right amount of protein due to its availability in tofu, other soy products, and vegetables. These contain amino acids, which are required for optimal health. The frequent consumption of red meat, for example, has health implications that can lead to different diseases. Such conditions can be avoided by replacing a meat diet with one that is rich in tofu.
Source of Protein for Gout Patients: Research conducted to study the effects of tofu suggests that it is a preferable source of protein, especially for gout patients with uric acid clearance more than the lower normal limit. However, people with gout should avoid very high consumption of tofu or other soy products.
Lower Cholesterol Level: High cholesterol levels are one of the causative agents of heart-related ailments. As much as people try to avoid this kind of fat, it is present in most cooking oils and fats used in most homes and other eatieries. Tofu reduces the cholesterol level in the body due to its ability to absorb cooking oil and other liquids that, if accumulated in the body, could lead to various diseases. As compared to meats such as beef, tofu has lower levels of saturated fatty acids and higher levels of unsaturated fatty acids. It is also a good source of lecithin and linoleic acid, which helps regulate the metabolism, along with the dispersion and elimination of cholesterol deposits in the body.
Prevents Anemia: Another health benefit of tofu includes a lower risk of anemia. A study conducted in China to investigate the association between anemia and tofu intake suggests that it does lower the risk of anemia among adults.
Anticancer Properties: Tofu contains isoflavones, which are well known to be beneficial in reducing cancer risk. Research on soy intake and endometrial cancer suggests that a higher consumption of products such as tofu may reduce the risk of endometrial cancer in post-menopausal women. Another study suggests that post-menopausal women suffering from lung cancer may live longer by including tofu in their lifestyle.
Cardiovascular Benefits: The intake of proper food plays a very important role in maintaining cardiovascular health. Regular consumption of soy products like tofu may lower the levels of cholesterol and saturated fats in the body, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. .
Great Source of Calcium: Tofu is a good source of calcium, which is the key ingredient in bone formation. It is not easy to get this nutrient or mineral in the right quantity. This is why the intake of tofu is highly recommended, since it has high levels of this element. Lack of calcium in the body could lead to osteoporosis, rapid aging due to brittle bones, and poor formation of new bones as well. Everyone is prone to aging at some point in their lives, but the effects of this age can be avoided by adopting measures such as consuming tofu, which slows down the entire process by keeping the bones strong.
High Levels of Iron: Iron plays a very important role in supplying oxygen to various body parts and subsequently, the body relies heavily on oxygen. It is the function of hemoglobin to transport this gas to every part of the body, which is essential in energy generation. Hemoglobin exists in the blood and is formed through the use of the iron that is present in the body. Tofu is a good source of iron and thus helps in oxygen circulation throuhhout the body
Incorporating Tofu in Meals
Most people tend to refrain from eating Tofu based on the notion that it does not have an appetizing flavor. The importance and health benefits of soy products are a clear indication that it should be consumed regularly and in large quantities. Innovations and creativity is the best way to ensure that tofu is used in most dishes at home in order for everyone to get all the of valuable nutrients it contains. Due to changes in tastes and preferences of most people, the cooking style opted for may not be necessarily similar to the original forms of tofu-based food. However, at the end of every tofu meal, you will be benefiting from a whole meal that contains all the vital minerals and vitamins that are essential for the body.
Select and Store – Tofu
The health benefits of tofu have made it be stocked in shelves of most stores worldwide. It is one of the foods that has maintained a huge natural content of healty substances, despite the modernization that has ended up reducing the nutritional value of other processed foods.
One does not have to own a soy beans farm in order to have this form or any other variety of soy protein. There are stores that stock this product in plentiful numbers and anyone can purchase a packet or more. It is important to always confirm the packaging and expiry date on every packet before you decide to buy it.
Just like any other food, once the container is opened, it should be refrigerated ion order to keep it preserved. Changing the water inside the container also helps in keeping the Tofu fresh and in good condition. It is also important to note that firmer Tofu has a higher fat content, as compared to the soft or silky Tofu.
Quick Serving Ideas
Miso Soup– Add tofu to miso soup, along with vegetables or fish.
Stir Fry– Stir fry tofu with your favorite vegetables or meats. Add salt and other seasonings according to your personal taste.
Have a happy tofu meal!