Tofu was discovered accidentally by a Chinese Cook and now it is one of the best sources of protein and another healthy nutrient. It was brought to western nations by the 1960s. It is prepared by curdling fresh soya milk, solidifying it, and then cooling it. It has a neutral flavor naturally but can be cooked in various ways to make it crispy and crunchy for a better taste. Tofu is a major ingredient in Thai and Chinese food. It is also good at absorbing spices. Vegetarians cannot eat meat and poultry, hence, they lack protein in their diet. Tofu can easily substitute the meat and poultry, therefore, it can provide vegans with the appropriate amount of protein. Non-vegetarians can eat it by mixing up with other proteins like egg, poultry, fish, etc. not to get an overload with any one thing.
Essential Nutrients in Tofu
Tofu is the best vegetarian source that includes most of the ingredients that should be included in a healthy and balanced diet, these are:
- Minerals (Like Manganese, Selenium and Phosphorous)
- Vitamin B1
- Amino acids
The best thing is, it does not contain saturated fat and cholesterol.
Types of Tofu
There are two main types of Tofu. Both types include the same ingredients but there is a slight difference in their processing and cannot substitute each other in a recipe.
- Silken Tofu – It is also known as Soft tofu, because of its soft consistency. It falls apart more easily.
- Regular Tofu – It is also called as bean curd and is available in soft, firm and extra-firm varieties. It has more nutritional value than the silken tofu.
The above-mentioned types of tofu are further classified and available in the market as:
- Block Tofu
- Soft Block Tofu
- Medium Block Tofu
- Firm Block Tofu
- Extra-Firm Block Tofu
- Silken Tofu
- Soft Silken Tofu
- Firm Silken Tofu
- Extra-firm Silken Tofu
- Fresh Silken/Custard Tofu
- Dry/Gan/Five-Spice Tofu
- Smoked Tofu
- Aburaage and Inari
Most Common Methods of Consuming Tofu
There are many ways to include Tofu in your diet. They are:
- Eating Raw
- In a salad with other ingredients like Bell Pepper, pineapple, etc.
- Salt-Soaking and Draining
- Frying with veggies or soy sauce or both.
- Bread it and Pan-fry with oil like a cutlet
- Substitute for mayonnaise, sour cream or cream cheese in a recipe.
- Can replace milk or yogurt in a smoothie.
Health Benefits of Tofu
Tofu is considered one of the most important food items for improving the health of a person. Some of the most experienced and proven health benefits of Tofu are described below:
1. Lowers down Bad Cholesterol Levels (LDL)
Tofu contains Isoflavones, also known as the cholesterol fighters, thus, lowers down the amount of Low-Density Lipoprotein (LPL), commonly known as Bad Cholesterol. It also maintains the appropriate amount of High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL).
2. Reduces the risk of Breast Cancer
Reduction of estrogens in the system may lead to health disorders like breast cancer and osteoporosis. Tofu contains the phytoestrogens also called isoflavones, which have a similar shape like the female hormone oestrogen and therefore can perform the actions similar to that. In this way, it prevents breast cancer, reduces the risk of death and reoccurrence of breast cancer as well.
3. Eases the Menopause
Tofu, being rich in estrogen, is beneficial to ease the menopause. Women on the pre-menopausal and menopausal stages can have great benefits from it. During menopause, women experience hormonal imbalances due to the reduction of estrogen in their system. The estrogen in tofu helps in balancing the hormonal levels.
4. Prevents the Heart Diseases
Too much cholesterol and fats increase the risk of getting cardiovascular or heart diseases. Being low in cholesterol and fats, and containing Omega 3 and saponins, Tofu helps to prevent heart diseases and keeps your heart healthy. Tofu is made up of soy, one of those legumes that are have proven effects in lowering the risk of heart diseases.
5. Helps in Losing Weight
Tofu helps you lose weight without eliminating essential nutrients in our body. It reduces hunger cravings and let the person stay full, longer than those who don’t consume tofu.
6. Prevents Digestive System and Prostate Cancer
The isoflavones, included in Tofu are very effective in fighting off prostate cancer. It has powerful anti-oxidants, which help in the prevention of various other types of cancers also like cancer of the digestive system.
7. Diminishes the risk of Diabetes
People with Type 2 diabetes mostly experience kidney disease, leading to discharge of an excessive amount of protein in the urine. Including Tofu in their diet helps in reducing the amount of protein discharge and treating diabetes.
8. Makes the Bones Healthier
Tofu is rich in calcium and Omega 3, that both are needed to make our bones stronger. They also prevent our bones from getting brittle and weak. Eating Tofu hampers you to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Hence, all the varieties of Tofu, methods to consume it, and its main health benefits are explained clearly. So, include Tofu in your diet and reduce the risk of getting dangerous diseases.