Tofu is a staple food for many vegans and vegetarians. This is because tofu makes a wonderful substitute to animal products, not only because of its taste, but also because of its health benefits.
The list is long when it comes to enumerating all the advantages one can get from eating tofu but below tops the list.
#1. Rich in Isoflavones
Tofu contains a uniquely rich amount of isoflavone which is believed to render several health benefits. 100 grams of tofu, as an example, may contain 25 mg of isoflavones. Soy foods, like tofu, have gained popularity due to this element.
Because of its high isoflavone content, tofu is known to positively influence memory and brain functions, promote bone health and reduce the risk of bone loss especially among women under the early menopausal period and postmenopausal periods, respectively (1, 2).
Isoflavones are also attributed to healthier skin by significantly reducing wrinkles and improving skin elasticity. This is possible by taking 40 mg of soy isoflavone daily (3).
And in rare cases, isoflavone may help weight loss by ten pounds in a span of eight to fifty-two weeks (4).
#2. Good Source of Iron
Iron is a crucial element necessary among all living organisms. Its primary role is on the formation of hemoglobin and therefore the transport of oxygen within the body, that with the shortage of it, is going to result in anemia (5).
That is why getting enough iron is a challenge for most vegans and vegetarians. As we all know, iron is usually found on red meats, so it’s quite a concern for those who have diet restrictions.
However, many didn’t realize that iron also comes rich in various plant foods like tofu. Tofu contains a major amount of iron. In fact, a half-cup of tofu contains 6.65 mg of iron (6).
#3. Good Source of Protein
Protein is a necessary element needed by our body to build and maintain muscle, bones, and organs. Filling this need can be quite a challenge for vegans and vegetarians as many sources of protein come mostly from meat.
Fortunately, tofu comes as an excellent alternative to meat. In fact, tofu’s quality of protein is said to be higher than that of other plant proteins and is almost equivalent to animal protein (7). This means, you can use tofu in many vegan recipes.
It is also considered a complete protein because of the nine essential amino acids it contains, which the body cannot produce on its own (8).
A half-cup of tofu, for example, contains at least 10 grams of protein and only 2 grams of net carbs that you can effortlessly add to your dishes (9).
Since tofu is low in carbohydrate, you can eat tofu on keto diet, especially if you’re following a vegetarian or vegan keto meal plan and as long as you are not allergic to soy.
#4. Reduces Risk of Cancer
Tofu is also believed to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, like breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, and digestive system cancer, to name a few.
In fact, Asian women, who tend to naturally consume more soy than non-Asian women, were found out to have a reduced risk of breast cancer. This is much considerable for women who have started taking soy, like tofu, since childhood or early adolescents (10).
The same is true for men where it shows a 50 percent reduced risk in prostate cancer. It also shows that soy’s isoflavone helps prostate cancer patients’ rising levels of prostate-specific antigen to slow down (11, 12).
#5. Decreases Risk of Heart Diseases
When the body’s level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol increases, someone is exposed to the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). So to prevent such, a person is advised to lower down cholesterol (13).
One recommended way of reducing cholesterol in the body, and in turn, reduce the risk of heart disease is by consuming soy protein.
In fact, the US Food and Drug Administration recommends 25 grams of soy protein every day for cholesterol reduction; and because a half-cup of tofu contains at least 10 grams of soy protein, this threshold can be easily met (14).
#6. Lowers Blood Pressure
A high-protein diet is also known to lower blood pressure, and again, because tofu is a rich source of protein, this can be easily achieved (15).
The protein that comes from tofu has a hypotensive effect which is believed to lower systolic blood pressure. This is also attributed to a reduced risk of stroke and coronary heart disease (16).
#7. Reduces Risk of Diabetes
Perhaps, one of the reasons why people go vegan or vegetarian is because of dietary restrictions. This is true, for example, among people with diabetes.
People with diabetes are advised to go on a low-carb diet, and that means reducing their intake of carbohydrates (17). That’s why taking tofu can be very beneficial to them as tofu contains very few amounts of this micronutrient.
In fact, the carbohydrate in a soybean, for example, is primarily composed of oligosaccharides, which later becomes a prebiotic-a compound that promotes the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract (18, 19).
Now you know the health benefits of tofu, it’s time to buy some and start cooking. Tofu tastes a bit bland, so when cooking, you need to add some spices and seasoning to make it taste good, especially for dishes like stews and stir-fry.