Tofu is one of the healthiest, most nutritious food in the word. Though it is of Chinese origin, and is often associated with vegetarian diets, it can be used in a variety of recipes. Silken (or soft) tofu can be mashed or pureed into a custard-consistency and used in desserts and dressings. Firm tofu can be grilled, baked or sautéed. It’s really easy to sneak into your diet—and many reasons to try. It’s cheap, it’s delicious, it’s nutritious, and is very low in calories. Plus, regular intake of tofu can help control a variety of health problems. Read on, and discover the many benefits of eating tofu.
1. Tofu can lower your cholesterol levels.
Tofu is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower your levels of bad cholesterol and even improve your blood’s ability to clot properly. In fact, one serving of tofu is enough to give you 15% of the daily recommended amount of omega-3.
Many doctors actually recommend substituting tofu for red meat, which are high in fat. This is particularly important for people who are already overweight or are at risk for heart disease. In fact, research shows that eating tofu regularly can lower your levels of bad cholesterol (or trigylceride) by as much as 30%.
2. Tofu can make your baby smarter.
Pregnant women are encouraged to take omega-3 fatty acids because these help develop the baby’s brain structures and can prevent neural tube defects. However, typical sources of omega-3 (fatty fish like tuna and salmon) may contain small levels of mercury, which has been associated with birth defects. Given this, tofu is the best source of this brain-building nutrient.
3. Tofu can help control the effects of menopause.
Tofu contains isoflavones, which behave very much like estrogen once in the body. This is particularly helpful for women who are undergoing the hormonal fluctuations during menopause and peri-menopause. It also helps avoid the health risks associated with the drop in hormone levels, such as osteoporosis and breast cancer.
4. Tofu can help prevent prostate cancer.
Recent research shows that isoflavones can also be beneficial for men. These compounds seem to boost the health of the prostate gland, preventing englargement and slowing down the rate of cancer growth.
Tofu is also rich in anti-oxidants like manganese, copper and selenium, which protect your DNA and lower your chances of developing cancerous cells.
5. Tofu is a good energy food.
If you’ve got an active lifestyle, or are looking for a way to stay energetic and alert during a particularly hectic work week, don’t reach for a granola bar—load up on tofu. One four-ounce serving of tofu contains a third of your recommended daily intake of iron (which helps beat fatigue, and helps transport and release oxygen to your whole body). It’s also rich in protein (which builds muscles), so it’s perfect for people who are exercising or for growing kids.
6. Tofu strengthens your bones.
Tofu, which is made from soy milk, is rich in calcium. A single four-ounce serving delivers 10% of your daily calcium requirements, and contains significantly less fat than milk and cheese. Calcium is important in preventing osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies also show that people who have high levels of calcium have a tendency to lose weight faster! Which brings us to the next benefit…
7. Tofu helps you lose weight.
A single serving of tofu contains only 70 calories, despite being such a rich source of nutrients! Its neutral taste and texture make it the perfect substitute for meat. It can also be used to make vegetable dishes or shakes more filling. Tofu is also low in fat and low in sodium, so you get all the ‘good stuff’ while skipping on the ‘bad stuff.’