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TOFU THE SUPER FOOD: Varieties, Nutritional Content and Health Benefits

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Tofu has become more popular than ever because it is gluten-free, lactose-free, great for vegetarians and healthy for those of us that realize it is best to eat less animal products. Whether you’re mixing it with chilis, sesame seeds and salad dressings or you just want it steamed, tofu is a versatile ingredient with a unique taste and a handful of extraordinary health benefits.

Varieties of Tofu

Tofu is made from the curds of soybean milk, plus coagulants such as calcium or magnesium and is made in the similar process to that cheese-making. In your local market, you’ll probably notice that there is a wide variety of quick-served tofu available. There are those that are marinated, sweetened and those that are pre-cooked. Primarily though, there are only two main kinds of tofu – the regular and the silken.

  • Regular Tofu. Known as the Chinese-style tofu, regular tofu is best for any dishes. It comes in different textures – from soft to firm to extra-firm. Firm to extra firm tofu is dense and solid. They work best in stir fries and in any dish where you want the tofu to retain its shape. Soft tofu, on the other hand, is jello-like and is perfect for soups and shakes. I suggest to clients to enjoy tofu as a mid-afternoon snack that can be dipped into any sauce in your refrigerator. It is great to throw into a soup for extra protein.
  • Silken Tofu. Like regular tofu, silken tofu also has soft, firm and extra-firm textures. This Japanese-style tofu is usually packed in shelf boxes and has a longer shelf life even without refrigeration. Silken tofu is commonly used to create a soft and creamy texture such as salad dressings as well as in puddings and purees.

Many of my clients enjoying making protein shakes with tofu. Especially those clients that cannot tolerate milk, tofu becomes a great substitute for milk in their shakes. You can throw any type of fruit in and yogurt as well to make it even more smooth and frothy.

Nutrients in Tofu

When it comes to protein, vitamins and minerals, tofu is super. Tofu is considerably low in calories, cholesterol and fat. That’s why doctors and nutritionists alike recommend it as part of diet plans especially for those with heart disease. Below are the essential minerals and nutrients for a half cup serving of tofu:

MINERALS AND NUTRIENTS

CONTENT

 

Calories

88 g

Protein

10 g

Fat

5 g

Carbohydrates

2 g

Cholesterol

0 g

Calcium

253 mg

Phos

152 mg

Magnesium

46.6

Sodium

15.1 mg

Iron

2 mg

Health Benefits of Tofu

The truth is: There’s so much more to tofu than enhancing food flavors and taste. Here’s why:

Tofu Health Benefit #1

Promotes a Healthy Heart. If you’re trying to avoid heart problems and other cardio-vascular illnesses, then start making tofu as part of your diet. Studies suggest that regular intake of soy protein lowers cholesterol levels as much as 30%. Blood clots, diabetic heart disease and atherosclerosis are greatly reduced through consumption of soy-based food, like tofu.

Tofu Health Benefit #2

Prostate Health. Compared with the United States, prostate cancer incidence in Asia are much lower, which researches point the difference mainly to the high content of soy in Asian diet.

Tofu Health Benefit #3

Smooth Menopause. Soy products such as tofu, as medical researches show, help lessen hot flashes, insomnia, mood irritability and other side effects of menopause.

Tofu Health Benefit #4

Weight Loss. Tofu makes you feel full and allows you to eat less. So don’t worry about not getting enough protein by not eating red meat, tofu can be a very good alternative.

Although there are individuals who don’t like the taste of soy whether plain or flavored, developing a taste for it and adding it gradually to your diet will not only make you appreciate the taste, but will allow you to enjoy countless nutritional benefits as well. So eat tofu, savor the joy of soy and stay healthy!