Health & Wellness, Nutrition

What You Need to Know About Tofu (+ 5 Tofu Health Benefits)

While it tends to get a bad rap due to its soy base, there are actually many tofu health benefits you may not be aware of. From fighting undesirable menopause symptoms to boosting your memory, tofu actually packs a lot of power for your health.

Let’s take a few minutes and discuss what tofu is and all of the health benefits it offers. Then, we’ll review a few easy recipes that feature tofu—including my all-time favorite tofu recipe that I just know you’ll love!

 

All About Tofu

If you’ve ever considered adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet, you’ve likely heard of tofu. And with good reason: Simply put, tofu is a great plant-based source of protein.

Skeptical? I get it—as I mentioned above, tofu gets a bad rap because it’s made from soy. In fact, tofu is made from soymilk curds, which are pressed into the blocks we’re familiar with.

And while tofu comes in varying textures, its flavor profile is typically pretty neutral. As a result, tofu can be incorporated into many different dishes—from salads to wraps to curry more!

Unfortunately, there have been many news stories regarding the detrimental health effects of soy. In fact, people often cite that tofu has too much impact on your estrogen levels.

But, with any situation, the entire health picture must be considered. And whether or not you’re eating whole versus processed soy is a big part of that picture.

If you eat a diet rich in whole plant-based foods (including whole soy) and low in processed, inflammatory foods, soy likely won’t cause an unwanted estrogenic impact. And, in that case, non-GMO, organic tofu can actually offer many health benefits.

Why? Well, you may be surprised to learn is that tofu actually contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs. It’s also rich in iron, calcium, and several other vitamins and minerals.

Additionally, tofu is a great plant-based meat alternative due to its high protein count. In fact, 100 grams of tofu contains an astounding 10.13 grams of protein. [1] That’s about the same as one and a half eggs. [2]

Personally, I like to add tofu to dishes on days I need a little extra protein in my diet. I’ll share a few of my favorite recipes below, but let’s first take a closer look at the top tofu health benefits you should be aware of.

5 Tofu Health Benefits

Here are five of the top tofu health benefits you should know about.

1. May help relieve menopause symptoms

One of the first tofu health benefits you should know about is its impact on menopause symptoms. It’s actually one of the more studied benefits of soy consumption.

Some of the most prominent symptoms of menopause are hot flashes, insomnia, fatigue, and muscle and joint stiffness. [3]

Interestingly, studies have shown that soy consumption can go a long way in helping to relieve those symptoms, largely due to the fact that soy contains phytoestrogens (hormones in plants that function as estrogen in the body).

In fact, many studies have reported that taking 30 mg of soy isoflavones each day was found to reduce hot flashes by up to 50 percent! [4]

Meanwhile, a 2018 study revealed that taking a high-dose of soy lecithin each day not only increased energy but also lowered blood pressure in middle-aged women who previously reported experiencing fatigue. [5]

2. Supports heart health

You may be surprised to learn that one of the tofu health benefits to get excited about is that it can help to fight cardiovascular disease.

First, consuming soy in place of more heart-damaging saturated fats, such as red meat, protect your heart by reducing the amount of those foods in your diet. Second, soy has its own heart health benefits.

According to a 2019 meta-analysis of 46 studies, consuming soy consistently lowered total cholesterol as well as low‐density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. [6]

Because high cholesterol levels are known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers shared that it was reasonable to conclude that soy helps to promote heart health.

3. Boosts memory and overall cognitive function

Amazingly, tofu health benefits also extend to supporting brain health. In fact, numerous studies have shown that eating soy is linked to improved cognitive function in women over age 65. [7]

Additionally, a 2010 animal study revealed that consuming soy could not only improve memory but also reverse memory deficits. The researchers went so far as to say that soybean consumption has the potential to aid in the management of Alzheimer’s disease. [8]

Meanwhile, another study on 28 young women revealed that soy supplementation during menses helped to improve the participants working memory as well as verbal memory. [9]

4. May help lower risk of breast cancer

When it comes to tofu health benefits, one of the more exciting is the fact that it’s been shown to potentially help lower the risk of breast cancer when combined with a whole food, plant focused diet.

One review confirmed that higher consumption of soy-based foods (more than 20 mg of isoflavones per day) was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. Meanwhile, the lowest consumption carried a higher risk. [10]

Interestingly, another study published in 2010 revealed that among women with breast cancer, those who ate more soy-based foods had a significantly decreased risk of both death and recurrence of cancer. [11]

5. Helps lower risk of type 2 diabetes

Finally, one of the major tofu health benefits worth reviewing is the fact that it’s been shown to help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And with the rise of diabetes in our country, this is one benefit to get excited about!

According to a 2018 meta-analysis, soy intake significantly reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes—by up to 77 percent! Additionally, consuming soy isoflavones was found to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by an astounding 88 percent! [12]

 

Tofu health benefits - Dr. Pingel

 

As you can see, tofu health benefits are vast and plentiful. But if you don’t regularly eat this protein-packed food, you may not know where to start. Keep reading for some of my favorite tofu recipes.

The Top Tofu-Based Recipes You Should Try

If you’re interested in eating more tofu and looking for a place to start, try my vegan shish kebabs. They contain tofu along with a variety of nutrient-packed vegetables and an incredibly tasty marinade you’re sure to love!

Meanwhile, this Thai Red Curry Tofu Recipe is quick, easy, and oh so flavorful! It’s perfect for a night when you’re feeling like serving something a little special but don’t have a ton of time to spend in the kitchen.

And, finally, these Spicy Garlic Tofu Bites are absolutely incredible. I like to serve them with broccoli over brown rice and topped with sesame seeds. Just make sure to cut back on the sriracha if you don’t like super spicy food!

 

Key Takeaways

  • While it tends to get a bad rap due to its soy base, there are actually many tofu health benefits you may not be aware of.
  • Tofu is made from soymilk curds, which are pressed into the blocks. When choosing tofu, always select the non-GMO, organic versions.
  • Tofu contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs and is a great plant-based meat alternative due to its high protein count. It’s also rich in iron, calcium, and several other vitamins and minerals.
  • Some of the major tofu health benefits include: helping to relieve menopause symptoms, supporting heart health, boosting memory, lowering breast cancer risk, and lowering type 2 diabetes risk.
  • Because tofu has a naturally neutral flavor profile, it’s versatile enough to include in many dishes, such as kebabs, salads, curry, and more!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.