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Tofu: the Vegan Superfood that Fights Cancer and Helps Weight Loss?

Natto — Natto is a fermented soy superfood that’s been shown in scientific studies to have great health benefits, including reducing blood pressure. Natto is also an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Additionally, the good bacteria Bacillus subtilis in natto creates an enzyme called nattokinase, which produces vitamin K2.

Tempeh — Tempeh is another type of soy protein that is made from fermented soybeans. The main difference between tempeh vs tofu is the fermentation process, which can help significantly ramp up the benefits. It also uses the whole soybean, giving it a higher content of protein and certain vitamins and minerals.

Tempeh is is known to reduce cholesterol, increase bone density, reduce menopausal symptoms and promote muscle recovery. In addition to these amazing benefits, tempeh is loaded with protein and contains high levels of B vitamins.

Legumes — Legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas are great options if you’re looking to bump up the amount of plant-based protein in your diet. In addition to supplying a double dose of protein and fiber, legumes are also generally rich in other important nutrients, including magnesium, iron, manganese, folate and thiamine.

Interesting Facts About Tofu

Tofu has been around for centuries. The making of tofu was first recorded during the Han Dynasty (between 206 B.C. and 220 A.D.) about 2,000 years ago. Some say it was discovered by a Chinese cook who accidentally curdled soy milk when he added nigari seaweed.

It took hundreds of years before Japan got in on the action and coined the term “tofu.” Its creation and consumption continued to advance throughout Asia over the years, corresponding with the spread of Buddhism as it is a common source of protein in the vegetarian diet.

Tofu didn’t make its way to the U.S. until 1765 when a man named Samuel Bowen, a well-traveled sailor, settled near Savannah and planted soybeans for his employer at the time. Soybeans became a commercial crop in the U.S. in the 1920s, but were actually used for hay and green manure. Widespread of soybean products began during World War II when the soybean crop replaced imported fats and oils that were being blocked by disrupted trade routes due to the war.

In recent years, soy consumption has skyrocketed, and annual soy food sales in the U.S.increased from $1 billion to $4.5 billion between 1996–2013.

Final Thoughts

  • Tofu is a food that is made by curdling soy milk from soybeans and pressing the curds into soft white blocks.
  • Besides being high in protein, tofu is also a good source of manganese, calcium, selenium and phosphorus.
  • Potential health benefits of tofu include better blood sugar control, improved heart health, enhanced bone strength, increased weight loss and protection against certain types of cancer.
  • On the other hand, most soy is sourced from GMO crops, highly allergenic and contains goitrogens and antinutrients. Some may also choose to avoid soy due to concerns about hormone-sensitive cancers and brain function.
  • Regardless of whether or not you choose to include tofu in your diet, there are plenty of other healthy plant-based protein options available as well, including tempeh, natto and legumes.

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Written by Rachel Wilson

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