Being a vegetarian, a lot of times I end up hearing this statement; “how do you fulfill your protein need, do you understand that how important it is for your health to have an adequate intake of protein in your diet?” Most of the time, it is assumed that if you are not eating meat your body must be starving for protein but honestly, the situation is not that bad. There are more than one options to satiate our body’s protein need and one such option is Tofu. Also, known as bean curd, this humble looking food item has numerous positive health benefits and is an excellent source of protein, iron, and calcium; it contains all the essential 8 amino acids and is a reliable source of magnesium, copper, and zinc. Not only that it is gluten-free and is low in calories as well.
Mostly, people align Tofu with Asian (Thai or Chinese) cooking but owing to numerous health benefits it offers, usage of tofu is now spread across the globe. It comes in varied consistencies firm, soft, silken and can be utilized in pretty much any part of your food course starting from a starter, main course to a desert.
Coming to the health benefits of Tofu, this is one food item which is 100% organic and does not contain any form of animal product in it and is a useful source of protein, making it a perfect option for both vegetarians and vegans to contribute towards their protein needs. Along with protein and other essential nutrients, it also contains a high level of isoflavones which help in reducing bad Cholesterols levels. It is also believed to have a lower level of saturated fatty acids and elevated level of unsaturated fatty acids which again is helpful in reducing the LDL levels and overall helping in reducing your chances of being impacted with cardiovascular disease. It is important to know that while Tofu helps in reducing the bad cholesterol levels it is not essentially helpful in increasing the HDL or good cholesterols levels. It is equally helpful for people who are trying to reduce or maintain weight due to its low-calorie nature.
There have been many speculations about consumption of Tofu post the breast cancer diagnoses. Such confusions were raised due to the presence of isoflavones in soy which typically has a similar chemical structure to female hormone estrogens. A higher level of estrogens may increase the risk of breast cancer however many scientific studies have proved that isoflavone present in tofu has antioxidant properties which may reduce your chances of breast cancer. Women going through menopause may also get benefitted by including Tofu in their diet due to the presence of Phytoestrogen. On the onset of menopause, our body’s ability to produce estrogen reduces/ stops; with the help of Phytoestrogen present in Tofu/ Soya; estrogen levels may increase slightly and help in providing relief from symptoms such as hot flushes.
Along with protein, Tofu is a rich source of Calcium and helps tremendously for maintaining strong bone health. Steady and regular intake of Tofu decreases the chances of osteoporosis due to weak or brittle bones. It is equally helpful in improving blood circulation in our body due to a high content of iron in it. Studies also indicate that people who have a regular intake of tofu in adequate quantity have lesser chances of anemia. Since it’s the rich combination of protein, calcium, iron, minerals, and antioxidants it helps built our overall immune system. Few of the more visible manifestation of Tofu benefits are youthful, supple skin and strong, lustrous hair. Tofu being the rich source of protein provides the essential nourishment to our skin and hair.
So, next time if anyone asks you about your protein intake with that pitiful look, offer them a serving of stir-fried Tofu and let them keep guessing about it. You have a super nutrient, power pack food in the form of Tofu with you which will not only fulfil the protein requirement but provides an abundance of other health benefits too.