Tofu Nutrition: Health Benefits of Tofu and Soy Proteins

Tofu provides us many health benefits. This highly nutritious food was originated in China and there it is known as doufu. Tofu is also known as the cheese of Asia or bean curd. It’s an important part of the East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine especially in Japan and China. Today tofu is popular all over the world because of its nutrition and health benefits. Tofu comes with different verities and basically there are main three types of tofu are available in the market. These are – Silken tofu, Tub tofu and Brick tofu. We’ll go into the details of these three types of tofu but before that let’s find out what tofu really is and why it is so nutritious and healthy.

What is Tofu? Tofu Nutrition and Health Benefits of Eating Tofu

Tofu is made from the curds of soybean milk. The scientific name for soybean, from which tofu is made, is Glycine max. The plant of soybean or Glycine max belongs to the family of Fabaceae and the genus of Glycine. As mentioned above tofu is the product of soybean milk; it is an off white color food, usually comes rectangular blocks. Tofu for its nutritional value and health benefits has become a staple food in many Asian countries such as Japan, China, Thailand and Vietnam. Although tofu is quite bland in taste but it has the ability to absorb the flavours of surrounding ingredients and that certainly enhances the taste of tofu.

Tofu Nutrition Facts

Tofu is a strong source of protein or soy protein. It can be a good substitute for meat and vegans can definitely absorb good amounts protein from tofu. It is one of the most important health foods for vegans and vegetarians. Tofu also contains very high amounts of calcium, manganese and iron. Other nutrients in tofu are including Omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, magnesium, phosphorous and copper. Tofu is extremely rich in phytochemicals or Isoflavones as well. In addition, tofu is a great source of tryptophan- which is an essential amino acid in our diet and a precursor of niacin.

This strong nutritional profile suggests that tofu is a wonderful health food and regular consumption of tofu can give us many important health benefits.

Tofu is easily available in local supermarkets throughout the year. But before you buy tofu you should know the types of tofu. There are three major type of tofu- Silken tofu, Tub tofu and Brick tofu or the firmer tofu.

Silken tofu- It is smoother, often used in desserts or spreads and usually comes in a tetra pack.
Tub tofu- This is another type of tofu and probably the most common one. It comes in tub with little bit of water. Like Silken tofu it’s also a soft tofu.
Brick tofu- Brick tofu is very firm but still easy to break up. It’s also the easiest to slice or cube without everything falling apart.

Health Benefits of Tofu

Here are the major health benefits of eating tofu...

Cardiovascular Benefits: The soy protein in tofu is very good in the reduction of LDL or bad cholesterol levels. Research showed that consumption of soy protein can reduce LDL by 30%. It is also an excellent nutrient to reduce triglyceride levels. Soy protein is helpful to reduce blood clots as well. According to the research soy protein can raise the levels of good cholesterol or HDL. These excellent benefits certainly reduce the chances of atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. In addition, omega 3 fatty acids in tofu improve the ratio of LDL and HDL cholesterol levels. Omega 3 fatty acids also help to reduce the inflammation and prevent clogging of arteries. So, we can see that protein rich tofu provides excellent heart health benefits.

Anti-Cancer Benefits: Manganese and selenium are known for antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are extremely important for the protection of the cells from the free radicals. Free radical damage may lead to cancer. By protecting the cells from free radical damage antioxidants prevent the development of cancer. Selenium plays an important role in the prevention of colon cancer by protecting colon cells from cancer-causing toxins.

Menopause: Tofu contains an estrogen called phytoestrogens; it also contains two isoflavones - genistein and diadzein. In the premenopausal condition, often women’s estrogen levels either rise very high or drop very low or below normal. Consumption of soy protein rich food like tofu helps to maintain the estrogen balance; because phytoestrogens in soy controls this fluctuation by blocking or filling the estrogen depending on the condition of the estrogen levels. At the time of menopause when women's production of natural estrogen drops, isoflavones boost the estrogenic activity and thus, prevent and reduce the hot flashes. Soy isoflavones is also responsible for reducing the chances of developing postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Diabetic Kidney Disease: Although some medical professionals think that diabetics should avoid proteins all together because proteins can increase the chance of kidney disease, but others feel that soy protein can actually help diabetics. Diabetics release abnormal amounts of proteins in their urine called albumin. Research showed that soy protein can reduce the albumin released in the urine. In this way soy protein can reduce the chances of diabetes-related kidney disease.

Weight Loss: Tofu protein provides weight loss health benefits as well. Tofu is low in calorie and high in protein. High protein foods make one fuller for a longer period of time. So, it can be added into weight loss diet very easily.

Other Health Benefits: Iron and copper rich tofu is a very good energy food. Iron and copper both are very important nutrients for energy production. Iron is essential to energy production and copper is responsible for hemoglobin synthesis. That means without copper, iron cannot be properly utilized in red blood cells. Being a source of iron and copper, tofu provides help in energy production. Also, tofu is a good source of calcium and it helps to protect against bone loss, bone weakness, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.

Those are the excellent health benefits of tofu. You can add tofu into your regular diet very easily. Remember, Silken tofu is the lowest in fat content. 



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