Tofu has been around for decades but hasn’t always had the best of reps when it comes to your diet. There are many who view it has something that tastes dull and dry, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Tofu can be highly delicious, if it’s cooked well.
While vegans will use tofu on a regular basis, it’s something that you should add to your diet even if you’re a meat eater. This is one of those dishes that will offer a range of health benefits that you just can’t say no to.
What Is Tofu?
Before you look at the reasons to start adding tofu to your diet, you’ll want to know what it is and how it’s made. Also known as bean curd, it’s created by pressing soy milk that’s been coagulated. This turns the soy milk into white blocks, which can then be used in place of meat.
While it’s been popular in the western world for a few decades, it’s been popular oriental food for much longer. It’s one of those dishes that offers health benefits that it’s popular in natural medicine and is completely organic. Because of the use of soy, it’s a complete protein and one of the only complete proteins vegetarians and vegans will eat.
Now it’s time to look at the benefits of adding tofu into your diet. Here are nine reasons to start eating it today.
It’s aProtein Powerhouse
The first, and possibly the biggest, benefit of adding tofu to the diet is due to the protein. As mentioned, soy is a complete protein. It’s made up of all the nine essential amino acids. Barely anything other than meat and dairy offer this benefit.
Protein is essential in the body. There’s a common belief that you can only get it from animal products, but clearly that’s not the case. The problem is most vegans and vegetarians don’t get enough of it—especially complete proteins.
With the right amount of protein, your muscles and bones will build stronger. The protein helps to support all the tendons and ligaments, every tissue in the body. Amino acids also help to support the organs and cell development, reducing the risk of many health problems and diseases.
By switching from red meat to tofu for your protein, you will benefit in other ways. Red meat has been linked to high cholesterol levels and heart disease. Tofu hasn’t, which means you can get your protein without the downsides.
Keep the Cholesterol Levels Down
Since we’ve mentioned cholesterol levels, it’s worth looking at the tofu benefits. By switching from red meat to tofu, you are instantly reducing your cholesterol levels. This is because, unlike red meat, tofu has very little cholesterol. It doesn’t coagulate in the arteries.
There are two types of cholesterol levels in the body: good and bad. The former is found in many lean options, but those are harder to come by with red meat. Bad cholesterol causes a friction layer in the arteries, making it much harder for the blood to flow properly. The western diet has proven problematic for bad cholesterol levels, leading to obesity, heart disease risk and stroke risk.
Tofu helps to absorb the cooking oils, too. This means the cooking oil will pass through your body better, rather than building up and causing health problems. You further help to reduce your cholesterol levels because of this.
You will also get adequate amounts of linoleic acid and lecithin. Both helps to eliminate cholesterol from the body, which means you don’t just reduce the amount you put in, but you get rid of amounts that were already there!
Help to Treat Anemia
There have been links to tofu and anemia treatment. Anemia is when the red blood cell count is down, which leads to problems with oxygenated blood passing around the body. Symptoms can include fatigue and a low heart rate. While iron tablets can be offered, many dieticians in the past have recommended an increase in eating red meat for the natural iron sources.
This isn’t necessary when tofu is involved. Chinese studies have shown that tofu can have all the nutrients that help to reduce the risk of anemia.
The benefit is improved if you follow a healthy and balanced diet. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, are packed with extra iron. This is great news for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, as there’s no need to eat animal products for iron levels. However, you will want to discuss your iron intake with your doctor to ensure your levels are healthy.
Help to Support Your Weight Loss Efforts
If you’re trying to lose weight, you can gain benefits from eating tofu. There are a few reasons for this and one of those is linked to the linoleic acid and lecithin. Both are known for regulating the metabolism, which can help to ensure you continue to burn calories at your normal and a healthy rate.
When you make switches to your diet and reduce your calorie intake, you can sometimes see a drop in your metabolic rate. Tofu helps to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Another reason for the weight loss support is the amount of protein in it. Protein takes longer to break down, which can help to make you feel fuller for longer. There’s less of a need to eat throughout the day.
And there’s the benefit of a lower calorie intake. While full of protein, tofu is a whole food that is low in calories. You can eat portions the size of your usual meat portions with a lower number of calories. There’s no need to feel like you’re on a diet, while you maintain your blood lipids and burn more calories than you consume.
Treat Your Gout Problems
There are many studies currently looking into gout. Once known as the rich-man’s disease, it’s now increasing in numbers. This is likely due to the increase of red meat. Tofu could be one of the ways to treat the condition, at least according to some recent studies.
The complete proteins in tofu can lead to more removal of uric acid in the body. This helps to get the levels back to a normal rate in those who already have gout.
However, the studies haven’t shown any benefits for those who don’t have gout yet. That doesn’t mean there aren’t long term benefits though, and there are certainly many other health reasons to start adding it to your diet.
Helps to Support Your Heart Health
Do you remember all that about keeping your cholesterol levels down? Well, tofu can help your heart in more ways than that. For one, it will help to boost your metabolic rate, so you lose weight and put less strain on your heart. But there is another important benefit.
Tofu is very low in fat, especially saturated fat. While your body needs some fat, the fat only needs to make up around 10% of your daily calorie intake. That really isn’t that much!
Too much saturated fat clogs the arteries and increases the risk of heart disease, along with other health problems. Because tofu has no saturated fat and little in the way of any fat, your arteries remain clear and protected. Your blood can flow much better and that helps your heart remain strong and supportive of the whole body.
You’ll Have Stronger Bones
Did you know that tofu is a good source of calcium? This is something often overlooked, but extremely important. There are many misconceptions about getting calcium into your diet. Vegans are viewed as being unhealthy because they don’t use dairy products for calcium, but with the right vegetables and some tofu that doesn’t have to be the case!
Calcium is needed for the bones. With the protein, the calcium helps to keep bones strong, repair breaks and ensure the density remains healthy throughout your life. The bone cells naturally die, but they need to repair too. Without the calcium, this can’t happen properly.
Women are at high risk of developing a condition called osteoporosis. This is when the bone density is extremely low and can lead to an increased risk of fractures.
You can’t just get calcium. You will also need vitamin D to help your body absorb and use the calcium. However, you still need to get calcium through your diet to support your bones (and your teeth!).
Improve Your Circulation
Your blood gets around the body due to the iron. Remember how tofu is good to help reduce the risk of anemia? Well, it’s all linked to this iron levels. The iron is essential for keeping the oxygenated blood circulating around the body. This helps to ensure your organs get all the oxygenated blood they need.
On top of that, the blood also needs the iron to transport gas around the body. This gas aids in generating energy, which will help to boost your metabolism and reduce the feeling of fatigue.
Your organs get all the support they need. This helps to ensure you live a healthier lifestyle and your heart remains strong.
Reduce the Risk of Cancer
It seems nowadays that everything you do or eat can cause cancer. Well, that’s not the case when it comes to tofu. In fact, this meat substitute can help to reduce the risk of cancer in both men and women. This is all thanks to the isoflavones.
The isoflavones can help to support the health of the cells, preventing abnormal cells from growing. This is especially the case for endometrial cancer, especially in women who have been through menopause. Isoflavones have also shown benefits in reducing the risk of breast cancer, which is another problematic cancer especially after menopause.
Those who already have cancer have also seen some health benefits due to cancer. Patients with lung cancer have shown some significant improvements in lifespan through studies.
In fact, isoflavones are helpful to manage menopause symptoms in women. This is just a bonus reason to add tofu to your diet.
Getting the Right Type of Tofu
Now you know you need to add tofu to your diet, it’s time to look for the best type of tofu to use. There are five types of tofu that you can buy in the grocery store and all of them have their own pros and cons. Most of the types differ in fat content, which means the prices increase.
Silken tofu is one that most recipes will suggest getting. It’s a creamy, soft option that is high in water. This can be great for weight loss and for those with some dietary conditions. It’s routinely use for smoothies and desserts to help create a creamy texture without any of the animal products. This is also a popular replacement for eggs in recipes.
Seasoned tofu is as it sounds: it’s been seasoned. There are all types of flavors that can be used, with teriyaki and barbecue as the most popular options.
Smoked tofu is usually smoked over tea leaves, although beechwood can also be routinely used. It has a deeper flavor and is often used raw. It can be delicious in salads or as an appetizer.
Fermented tofu is often creamy, but it is also pickled. This can be great for those who want something to create a delicious dip for their vegetables. It’s also often added to porridge or rice to create something unique and delicious.
Regular tofu is the most commonly bought option and routinely used when it comes to making roasts, meat-less meatloaves and more. You can get it in soft, medium, firm or extra firm forms, with the latter being the best for a meat substitute and is delicious when crumbled to create your meat-less dishes. Soft tofu is popular in soups and stews.
The type of tofu you want will depend on the type of dish you’re making.
Add Tofu to Your Dishes Today
Don’t delay in getting the benefits of tofu in your diet. Even if you’re a meat-eater, this is something you want to try. There’s nothing wrong with having one a day week where you don’t consume any meat. If you can, cut down on animal products in total and enjoy far more health benefits moving forwards.
You will want to use tofu as part of a healthy and balanced diet to get all the benefits mentioned above. However, it makes a powerful meat substitute, with many recipe ideas to help find you new and interesting ways to go meat-less.