Love it or hate it, it seems that tofu is the kind of food that sparks so much debate on whether or not it should be a permanent fixture on one’s diet. But there is no denying that tofu has some attributes that deem it to be healthy. As a great source of calcium and iron, tofu is also naturally gluten and cholesterol-free. It’s also one of the most low-calorie protein sources around. It’s no wonder vegans love it.
But is tofu all that good (or bad) as its made out to be? Are there benefits of regularly eating tofu? Here’s an idea on tofu and why you should be adding it to your diet.
An Ancient Technique
Originating from China tofu more than 2,000 years ago, this staple of Asian cuisine is made by coagulating condensed soy milk pressed into blocks similar to how cheese are made.
Tofu can be made by mixing either nigari (byproduct of making salt) or precipitated calcium which helps it form and keep its shape.
Most of the arguments in the “is tofu good or bad?” debate usually stems from the fact that most of the soybeans that makes tofu what it is, is usually grown in the US and genetically modified which comes to question tofu’s nutritional value. Making sure that you get non-GMO brands could make a huge difference in your opinion on that tofu debate.
Tofu by the numbers
To give you an idea of how good tofu can be to you and your diet, how about taking a look at the nutritional value per every 100 gram serving of tofu.
Calories : 76
Total Fat: 4.8 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Protein: 8 g
Carbohydrates: 2 g
Sodium: 7 mg
Potassium: 121 mg
Calcium: 35% of the RDI
Iron: 30% of the RDI
Magnesium: 7% of the RDI
Vitamin A: 1% of the RDI
All that nutrition packed in every 100 grams of tofu makes it nutrient dense, not to mention the fact that it’s low fat and low-carb and are packed with so much micronutrients,
So is it good?
Short answer is yes. But keep in mind that just like anything else in your diet taking it in moderation and finding the right balance is the secret to a healthy diet with tofu. Also keep in mind that tofu is not good for everybody and could make your health conditions worse so it’s extremely important that you ask a health professional before you seriously get into adding tofu to your diet.
Now that’s out of the way, here are some good and bad things about tofu being a part of your diet. We’ll give you a general idea about how tofu works in the body and then we’ll let you decide if it’s really worth having as part of your diet.
The bad: Anti-nutrients
Tofu is known to have anti-nutrient properties like any plant-based products out there; Some of these ant-nutrients are:
- Trypsin inhibitors: blocks the trypsin enzyme which helps the body digest protein better.
- Lectins: when improperly cooked or eaten in excess these proteins may cause nausea and bloating so be careful!
- Phytates: can inhibit the absorption of minerals essential to the body such as zinc, calcium and iron.
These aren’t cause for concern though as most of these anti-nutrients get deactivated or dies down when it’s cooked or soaked
The good: Isoflavones
These plant compounds called isoflavones are where all of the goodness and benefits of tofu comes from. They usually come in two types: genistein and daidzein which come at a whopping 24.7 mg per 100 g serving!
Isoflavones get a good rep because it’s attributed to multiple health benefits, and mainly functions as phytoestrogens which produces the same effects as estrogen but a little weaker.
The bad: It’s not for everyone
Although it’s generally okay to eat tofu regularly, you might want to hold back if you have kidney or gallbladder stones since tofu is rich in oxalates and which may worsen your condition.
Eating tofu regularly also isn’t good for people who have thyroid issues since it’s rich goitrogen content.
The good: it has a ton of benefits
As discussed earlier tofu is good for many reasons and aside from its nutritional value it is also linked to other health benefits, here’s some of them:
- May reduce the risk of heart diseases: recent studies have shown that eating tofu regularly can reduce blood vessel inflammation and reduce the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) in the body.
- May reduce the risk of diabetes: there have also been recent studies that linked soy isoflavones with the reducing of blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity
- May reduce the risk of cancer: Isoflavones have also been linked to preventing several types of cancers including breast and digestive cancers.
Tofu is incredibly healthy and should be a staple in your diet. Not only is it a great source of protein, but it is also packed with so much nutrition in just one serving.