Few people even realize what tofu is, how versatile it is, nor what health benefits it can provide. Vegetarians and vegans have adopted tofu as their primary meat replacement or protein source, and for good reason.
Read on to learn what tofu is and why, despite the weird texture and unpopularity among non-vegetarians, this is a food that could really add a lot of value to your dietary regimen.
What is Tofu?
You may have seen those spongy, little cubes we know as tofu, but what is it exactly? Well, tofu, also known as bean curd, comes from soybeans. It is created from coagulated soy milk (which is made from soybeans) that is then pressed and cut into cubes. These cubes are used in a variety of dishes.
I am most familiar with using tofu as part of a stir-fried vegetable dish. When seasoned and mixed with other foods, tofu is delicious and takes on the flavor of the other foods. It essentially works as a filler food in this way, so that you are getting a good dose of protein that makes meals more filling without any animal products necessary.
What’s So Great About Tofu?
Aside from tofu’s versatility in cooking, it has lots of health benefits such as the following:
It is very low in calories and fat, but high in protein and iron. This means that you can eat tofu regularly without worrying about your waistline. The protein contributes to sustaining energy levels, improving brain function and mental sharpness, and keeping appetite under control. The iron content increases the production of red blood cells and improves blood circulation.
Tofu is also pretty inexpensive and available in abundance, so there’s no reason why the average Joe can’t start eating this healthy food. Whether or not you’re a vegetarian, tofu can replace a lot of the dishes you’d normally eat that require meat. For example, instead of topping your favorite salad with sliced turkey meat, use tofu instead; or instead of stir frying chicken with onions and bell peppers, try some tofu. It will surprise you how delicious it is in combination with other foods.
Tofu has cholesterol-lowering abilities as well, meaning that even your heart can benefit from it. It has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol, but doesn’t seem to affect good cholesterol in any way. Even that is enough to keep your blood flowing well to and from your heart and to prevent heart disease and stroke.
Tofu may help to lower one’s risk of developing prostate or breast cancer and improve brain function when eaten in moderation. The recommended daily amount is no more than about 4 or 5 ounces.
Excessive tofu consumption by the elderly has been linked to neurological problems, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and in general too much tofu may actually cause breast cancer in women.