Tofu has been a staple in many diets for decades. It’s most known for being used in Chinese, American, and Japanese foods but you can find tofu recipes for any taste. It can be a viable substitute for meat in practically every dish. It’s not as flavorful as meat, but due to its unique tendency to absorb flavor from whatever you’re cooking, it’s capable of tasting like anything and that is what makes it so popular.
The debate has raged for years as to whether or not tofu is actually nutritional. Can it replace meat? Does it have adverse side effects? We’ll answer all those questions and more, below, by explaining the benefits of tofu.
The benefits of tofu
- Studies have shown that if you eat enough tofu, you can get the appropriate amount of protein, total fat, carbohydrates, and fiber. To get the same amount you must eat about twice as much tofu as you would meat, but tofu is lower in calories so it balances out.
- Tofu has less cholesterol, fewer triglycerides, and less low-density lipoprotein than meat. That means if you switch out meat for tofu on a regular basis, it can actually help you lower these numbers! This is great news for people who want to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure (hypertension), as well as help those who already suffer from those conditions.
- Studies conducted by the School of Radiation Medicine and Public Health at Soochow University in Suzhou have concluded that eating tofu (and soy foods in general) may help reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
- Tofu is known to be high in calcium. In fact, a four ounce serving of tofu contains about as much calcium as a full eight ounce glass of cow’s milk. Calcium is an essential nutrient for growing children. It’s also important for women who are at an increased risk for osteoporosis.
- It’s been widely documented that tofu contains isoflavones, which have a variety of health benefits. Examples include the ability to ease symptoms of menopause and potentially lower the risk of some cancers, most notably breast cancer.
- Tofu has been shown to be very filling. Including it regularly in your meals can help prevent accidental overeating. Since tofu is low in calories, that means you’ll be consuming fewer calories overall and that can help combat obesity and other weight-related issues.
- It contains no saturated fat. Saturated fat is one of the worst kinds of fat and can contribute to heart disease, hypertension, and other diseases. This helps increase the value of tofu for those who want to be more heart smart.
- Tofu is considered to be a “complete food” because it contains all eight essential amino acids that people need to live.
- It’s been shown that tofu has a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. According to WebMD, omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglycerides, lessen depression, decrease inflammation, and help alleviate rheumatoid arthritis.
- It also contains a decent amount of selenium. Selenium has antioxidant properties that help prevent cell death and reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
- Tofu has a good amount of iron, copper, and manganese. These nutrients work to help the body absorb each other and all three are essential for a healthy diet but can also help boost energy.
- Soybean foods in general are high in fiber. Fiber can help keep us regular in the bathroom, but fiber can also reduce the risk of stroke, control blood sugar, relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and lower the risk of hemorrhoids.
- It has been shown to help relieve some symptoms of endometriosis in some people. This is likely because of the isoflavones we mentioned earlier. Once in the body, they act like estrogen and one of the popular treatments for endometriosis is hormone therapy.
All things in moderation
Soybean products like tofu have a range of health benefits. However, like all things, you should definitely make sure to eat it in moderation! Too much tofu can overload your body with many of the nutrients it contains, which can be just has harmful as when you don’t get enough of them. So if you do decide to add tofu to your diet, make sure you keep things in perspective. Many health organizations recommend about 4 ounces of tofu per day if you plan on adding it to your diet.
Where can I find a recipe for tofu?
Good recipes for tofu are everywhere! It also helps that you can prepare tofu in so many different ways. You can slice it, crumble it, fry it, bake it, and sauté tofu. You can even do some creative recipes like blending tofu with chocolate to create a sort of chocolate mousse. There are literally thousands of recipes available that can fit anyone’s taste. The only thing left to do is find one you like and get started!
Featured photo credit: TheVWord.net via 1.bp.blogspot.com
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