Tofu is a block of bean curd prepared by coagulating the soy milk. With great protein in it (about 42%) tofu is considered as a meat replacement for vegetarians and a main source of protein for vegan diet. Tofu with a faint nutty taste is a major ingredient in Asian cuisines like Thai and Chinese. While its nutritional benefits are majorly talked about, the inconclusive research about its anti-nutritional properties is much debated.
Main nutritional benefits of Tofu
- Tofu is a rich source of vegetarian protein (100 grams of Tofu provides 8 grams of protein). The soy protein in the tofu helps in lowering the blood cholesterol (specifically LDL). Tofu has eight essential amino acids (elements that build proteins), which gives it a great nutritional value.
- Tofu has vitamin B, iron, calcium, manganese, selenium and phosphorus which are required for good health.
- Tofu has alpha-linoelic acid which is later converted by our body to omega-3 fatty acids which keeps the heart healthy.
- Tofu is also researched to have cancer-fighting properties.
Isoflavones in Tofu
- Tofu has a much debated “isoflavones” which mimic the hormone oestrogen produced in human body. Though isoflavone is a plant hormone, researchers have not proved beyond doubt that this plant hormone does not completely affect human body.
- Some research have shown that there might be delay in periods due to its excessive consumption
- Tofu is found useful for menopausal women since isoflavone acts as a weak form of oestrogen and helps balance its deficit during the phase of menopause and keeps other side effects of hormonal imbalance in control, including hot flushes.
- Some research have proven that the individual’s genetic factors influence the effect of tofu on body.
Since the research is still inconclusive, the question still remains- how much tofu is safe to eat? And the answer being, about 80 grams per serving, once or twice a week. Like overeating any single ingredient has certain disadvantages, eating tofu too much does not help in acquiring the overall nutrition that the body requires. Mix it up with loads of veggies, cereals, pulses, millets, fruits and other ingredients to decrease the load of tofu alone on the body. Swapping down red meat with tofu is found beneficial worldwide due to its property of reducing the bad fats in the body.
Use it like cheese or paneer to make your daily recipes flavourful and great. Tofu can be marinated since it takes up flavours while marination and hence can be used in stir-fries, saucy preparations. Include tofu in casseroles and in recipes which call for mayo or sour cream as well. Here are a few recipes to use tofu in various ways, tacos, soups, gravy dishes, baos, paratha, noodles, rice dishes, patty are few ways of including tofu in your diet.