Tofu, also referred to as bean curd, is a soft cheese-like food obtained by coagulating soy milk, which is used extensively in Thai and Chinese cuisines.
A low-fat and high protein food, tofu is often considered as the vegetarian equivalent of meat.
Tofu was invented around 200 B.C. in China when a Chinese cook accidentally curdled soy milk by adding nigari seaweed to it.
This versatile ingredient significantly boosts the nutritional value of soups, sandwiches, wraps with its blend of calcium, iron, protein and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Health Benefits of TofuTofu, dried-frozen (koyadofu)
packs in a solid nutritional punch boasting of a gamut of health benefits – weight loss, healthy skin, stable sugar levels and lowered risk of cancer.
- Aids in Weight Loss
Since tofu is derived from a plant origin, it is zero cholesterol. A high protein and low carbohydrate and fat-containing food, tofu provides satiety which keeps hunger pangs and overeating at bay. A 100 gram serving of extra firm tofu provides 91 calories, 10 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates and 6 grams fat.
- Lowers Cancer Risk
Tofu is a rich source of selenium which functions as a powerful antioxidant against cancer-causing free radicals, particularly colon, prostate and breast cancer.
The high lignin content in tofu lowers the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women.
Tofu contains isoflavones like genistein and daidzein, which lower the risk of cancer, particularly prostate cancer by lowering inflammation and inhibiting activation of proteins which promote cancer cell growth. Additionally, the fiber content in tofu reduces the risk of colon cancer.
- Eases Menopausal Symptoms
During menopause, production of progesterone increases and production of estrogen decreases, which results in hot flashes. Being a rich source of phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen), tofu mimics the action of estrogen hormone and helps reduce hormonal fluctuations.
Since tofu is relatively a low-calorie food, it also helps prevent weight gain in menopausal women. A 100 grams serving of tofu provides 175 mg calcium, which plays an important role in lowering the risk of osteoporosis and maintaining bone density in menopausal women.
- Body Building
Tofu boosts nitric oxide levels, which increases blood flow to muscles as well as boosts growth hormone levels. Tofu contains all the essential amino acids which our body cannot produce, and thus makes it a perfect post-workout meal for vegans and vegetarians, especially in post weight-lifting sessions. Contrary to popular belief, consumption of tofu doesn’t lower testosterone levels in men.
- Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Tofu contains soy
saponins which function as antioxidants and help lower lipid
peroxidation in blood vessels which reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.
They also reduce absorption of cholesterol from the GI tract, and
increase excretion of bile acids.
Additionally, tofu contains
glycinin and conglycinin, two peptides which inhibit
angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and help lower blood pressure. These
peptides also function as antioxidants protecting blood vessels from
oxidative and inflammatory damage.
Tofu also contains a
negligible amount of saturated fat (1 gram saturated fat per 100 grams
serving) which decreases the risk of cardiovascular problems. Being a
source of Omega 3 fatty acids, tofu helps lower the levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL).
- Helps Maintain Healthy Skin
Tofu brims with the goodness of nutrients that promote healthy skin – Omega 3, protein, calcium, selenium.Omega 3 fats facilitate proper blood circulation giving the skin a healthy glow, whereas selenium preserves the elasticity of skin and combats free radicals, which accelerate the aging process.
- Anti-diabetic Food
Since tofu is a good source of protein, fiber and contains very small amounts of carbohydrates, it is a must-include for diabetics. Both fiber and proteins help maintain stable blood sugar levels and regulate insulin production.
Tofu RecipeThai Curry Vegetable and Tofu SoupIngredients
- 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 14 ounces coconut milk
- Salt for taste
- ½ pound thinly sliced mushrooms
- 4 ounces green beans
- 2 carrots, sliced crosswise
- 14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into cubes
- 4 ounces green peas
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- Asian chili garlic sauce, for serving
- In a pan, add Thai curry paste and ginger. Mix in vegetable broth, coconut milk, and salt and bring to a boil.
- Add mushrooms, green beans, and carrots and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Stir in tofu and green peas and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add lime juice and basil leaves. Garnish with chili garlic sauce. Serve hot.