In a world where eating meat isn’t the healthiest nor the most sustainable option right now, tofu is a nutritious and flavor-packed alternative for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Produced from the pressed curd of soybeans, it generally starts out as a little white block that resembles cheese.
If you don’t like the taste of tofu on its own, there are plenty of recipes that make it taste just like meat. In fact, it’s a staple food that’s eaten daily in Asia. It’s an incredibly versatile form of protein that might help you live longer, which is why you should include it in your diet ASAP. Here are all the fascinating ways that tofu can help you be healthier.
1. An antioxidant powerhouse
Tofu is essentially a superfood – that means that it contains several antioxidant phytochemicals that are highly anti-inflammatory. This is ideal for anyone with chronic pain, arthritis or other inflammation-based issues.
2. It’s a complete source of protein
It’s hard for vegetarians to get their fill of protein, which meat is naturally high in. Fortunately, tofu is a complete source of protein meaning that its amino acid profile is balanced. It also has a good amount of magnesium, iron, copper and other important minerals that your body craves.
3. May alleviate menopause symptoms
The isoflavones in tofu mimic estrogen in the body, which can alleviate some symptoms of peri-menopause like irritability and hot flashes. It may not be beneficial to women with a history of breast cancer, however.
4. Can help manage blood sugar and heart health
According to some studies, tofu can help reduce fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance — that can even encourage better cholesterol levels while lowering “bad” cholesterol. Isoflavones in tofu are a compound that help clear clogged arteries. Additionally, plant estrogen helps your endothelium function better. Your endothelium is the tissue that lines your blood vessels and the inside of your heart.
5. Can fight osteoporosis
We often lose bone mass as we get older – especially after women go through menopause. But tofu is rich in Vitamin D and Calcium, which are both essential to maintaining bone health and density. The plant estrogens in tofu also help encourage a healthier bone mass
6. It can increase immunity
Looking to strengthen your immune system? Have a stir-fry night and add in some tofu! Due to the high levels of zinc in soybeans, tofu can boost your immunity. This mineral regulates the cells in our body and kills germs before they have a chance to make us sick. Since zinc mostly comes from meat intake, this is a great option for vegetarians and vegans who don’t take a zinc supplement.
7. It doesn’t contain saturated fats
meat is certainly filling, but it often contains high levels of saturated fat. This can lead to heart disease down the line. Tofu, on the other hand, doesn’t contain saturated fat and hence is a more heart-healthy choice. Unlike meats, it’s also very filling which can help prevent accidental overeating and weight gain.
8. High in fiber
Fiber is one of the most important things you can consume – it keeps your gut healthy and also keeps you bowel movements regular. Little do people know, but fiber can also help reduce the risk of strokes while regulating blood sugar. It can also relieve IBS symptoms and reduce your chances of getting hemorrhoids. Lucky for you, tofu is high in fiber.
9. Can improve anemia
Due to the levels of non-heme iron found in soybeans, tofu is a great choice for anemic individuals and those looking for a solution to their iron deficiency. For those who don’t get their iron from meat, this news can be lifesaving.
10. It might help repair skin
This is one of those unexpected health benefits of tofu. Every day, UV lights and bacteria damage our skin, but consuming tofu can help reduce that damage. Based on certain studies, soybeans may boost the protection of collagen and reduce inflammation, which helps keep skin safe from UV. Still, you should double down with some sunscreen just to be sure.
Remember…moderation is key
Tofu can be a healthy dietary addition for many lifestyles, but it can provide an excess of nutrients as well as an excess of estrogen in the body. If you decide to eat it daily, try not to exceed four ounces per day. People with estrogen-sensitive breast cancer should limit their intake since the photo-chemicals in tofu can mimic human estrogen – if you’re not sure that it’s right for you, talk to your doctor beforehand.