- What Is Tofu?
- Nutrition Facts
- Risks and Side Effects
- Healthy Substitutes
- Interesting Facts About Tofu
Tofu, also called bean curd, has gained popularity over the years, especially as a vegetarian- and vegan-approved source of protein. However, it’s also a highly controversial ingredient; while some praise it as a health-promoting superfood, others claim that soy products can halt thyroid hormone production and ramp up the risk of certain types of cancer.
So is tofu healthy? In this article, we’ll dive in and take a closer look at the potential tofu benefits and disadvantages to help you decide whether or not you’d like to add this plant-based protein into your diet.
What Is Tofu?
So what is tofu made of exactly? Tofu is an ingredient made by curdling soy milk (from soybeans) and then pressing the resulting curds into soft, white blocks. The process of making tofu is relatively similar to the way that cheese is made from milk.
The tofu nutrition facts are pretty impressive, packing a good amount of protein, manganese, calcium, selenium and phosphorus into each serving.
There are also many different types of tofu available based on the firmness and the amount of water pressed out of the tofu. Some of the most common varieties include:
- Soft/silken tofu
- Medium tofu
- Firm tofu
- Extra-firm tofu
- Super-firm tofu
Although less common, fermented varieties can also be found at some restaurants and specialty stores. For example, pickled tofu, also known as preserved tofu or fermented tofu, consists of dried tofu cubes that have been allowed to fully air-dry under hay and slowly ferment from aerial bacteria. Stinky tofu is another type of soft tofu fermented in a vegetable and fish brine.
Tofu is a great source of protein, along with other key micronutrients like manganese, calcium and selenium. Each serving is also low in tofu calories, with just 70 calories in 100 grams.
A 3.5-ounce serving of tofu contains the following nutrients:
- 70 calories
- 1.5 grams carbohydrate
- 8 grams protein
- 4 grams fat
- 1 gram dietary fiber
- 0.6 milligrams manganese (31 percent DV)
- 201 milligrams calcium (20 percent DV)
- 9.9 micrograms selenium (14 percent DV)
- 121 milligrams phosphorus (12 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligrams copper (11 percent DV)
- 1.6 milligrams iron (9 percent DV)
- 37 milligrams magnesium (9 percent DV)
- 0.8 milligrams zinc (6 percent DV)
- 19 micrograms folate (5 percent DV)
Tofu also contains a small amount of vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamine, potassium, and vitamin K.
Top 7 Health Benefits of Tofu
Rich in a variety of nutrients and health-promoting compounds, tofu protein has been associated with many potential benefits.
1. Promotes Heart Health
Heart disease is a major problem in the U.S., and around the world. Switching up your diet is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of heart problems, and research shows that soy products like tofu may be especially beneficial.
Soy isoflavones, which are a type of polyphenol found in tofu, have been shown to decrease markers of inflammation and improve blood flow, which could potentially help protect against stroke. Increased intake of isoflavones can also impact several risk factors for heart disease and may lead to reductions in insulin levels, body weight and belly fat.