Tofu: What is it? Should you eat it?

tofu bean curd vegan protein sourceEver tried coagulated bean curd? If you’ve had tofu, the answer is yes.

Tofu can be bought or made silken, soft, firm or extra firm. With its subtle flavor, it can be used in a variety of diverse dishes from sweet to savory, and will flavor based on the marinade used.

A half-cup serving of tofu contains 94 calories, composed of 10g protein, 5g fat, and 2g carbohydrates.

Benefits of adding tofu to the vegetarian diet include:

  • Vegan source of complete dietary protein, providing all of the essential amino acids needed in the diet
  • Low fat
  • Low carb
  • High in iron
  • Naturally gluten-free
  • High in calcium (providing up to 44% of recommended daily value) and magnesium (up to 9% of recommended daily value)
  • Rich in omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid
  • Contains small amounts of other vitamins including vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folate, choline, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium
  • Phytoestrogens in soy foods are linked to a decreased risk for osteoporosis
  • Consumption as part of a plant based diet contributes to decrease in cardiovascular disease, breast and prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, and age related brain diseases
  • Tasty addition to salads, soups, and dinner dishes

As I mentioned, tofu is made of beans: SOY BEANS, to be exact. There are so many differing views around the dangers of soy that these are worth addressing.

Concerns of adding tofu (and other soy products) include:

  • If non-organic (not verified by the non-GMO project) tofu/soy products are purchased, there is a HIGH likelihood of GMO consumption. Eat ORGANIC, NON-GMO Project Verified only, if possible!
  • Concerns about hormonal interactions due to phytoestrogens and their potential to disrupt endocrine function, influence infertility or risk of breast cancer (in contrast with theory above)
  • High Phytic Acid, which reduces assimilation of some vitamins and minerals
  • Potential for allergic reaction to soy, especially for those allergic to legumes
  • Soy foods increase your body’s vitamin D requirement
  • May contribute to B12 deficiency, especially in vegans
  • Effects of chemical and high temperature processing

Personally, I do choose to consume tofu; however, I do not consume it overly often (nor more than once per week). I also opt for organic, non-GMO project verified soy products whenever possible. These are available at Whole Foods, or the organic section in my local Kroger.

Do your own research and decide if you want to include tofu in your own diet.

Happy learning!

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