Updated: Mar 15
For many people tofu is a major part of the their diet. In East Asia and Southeast Asia tofu has been used for centuries, more recently vegans have been using tofu as a source of protein. Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a food that is made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the curds into solid white blocks, this is very similar to how cheese is made. Depending on how hard the tofu is pressed it can be made to be soft and squidgy, called silken tofu, or quite hard, extra firm tofu, or something in between. There are many different varieties of tofu and, because of it's mild flavour, it can be used for many different things from a stir fry to scrambling it in place of eggs. It can also be used to make sweet foods and deserts.
Nutritionally, tofu is low in calories, while containing a relatively large amount of protein. It is high in iron, and can contain high levels of calcium.
Is Tofu Healthy?
Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. Tofu also contains iron, calcium, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1. On top of that it also contains isoflavones such as phytoestrogens. Isoflavones may help to protect against some cancers, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
One of the biggest benefits of eating soy, which tofu is made from, is that it can replace foods that would definitely be bad for you. "If we are talking about soy in its whole form such as edamame, tofu and whole soy milk, then it is healthier than meat in the sense that soy provides an excellent source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals — without the cholesterol and saturated fat found in meat," says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDE.
There are different types of tofu and they don't all contain the same amount of nutrients, but 100g of tofu roughly contains:
35% rda calcium
30% rda iron
7% rda magnesium
These values are based on an adult, for kids the rda, or recommended daily allowance will be different. For example, an adult needs roughly 1000mg each day, however a 10 year old would need around 1300mg a day to support all of the growing that they do. Tofu can really help to give your body the good things that it needs to be healthy.
But People Say That Tofu Is Bad
Many people, the media, some doctors and people that make money from selling meat, say that eating soya products like tofu or drinking soy milk can make you ill by messing with your hormones. But there isn't any proof that says that eating tofu makes you ill. What has been found is that eating a really large amount of tofu can affect the way that your body works in a negative way. But, if you eat loads of carrots you turn orange, eating too many bananas can make you constipated, these aren't s reasons to not eat carrots or bananas, just don't eat loads of them and it's a same with tofu. If you eat a portion of tofu every day for months there will be changes to your body but eating a portion a few times a week isn't a problem and will make you healthier. Some studies have found that eating tofu has helped people recover from certain types of cancer, another found that eating soy protein, which tofu is made from, made other foods more digestible, that the body was able to get more goodness from foods. This is great news as tofu is rarely eaten alone, it is used in salads, stir fries, it can be baked and eaten with rice and beans and, while tasting great, it also means that everything else that you eat will be even healthier, boosting your health, strength and energy.