Tofu Nutrition and How To Eat ItApr 04, 2022
Is Tofu Good For You?
We hear a lot about soy and soy products like tofu, some good and some bad. So are you supposed to eat it? Yes! Unprocessed and minimally processed soy and soy products like soybeans, tempeh, edamame, soy milk and tofu can and should be part of a health-boosting plant-based diet (unless you have a soy allergy). Their consumption brings many benefits, improving current health and reducing future disease risk. Read more about the benefits of soy in my article What Is Tofu Made of and Is It Safe To Eat?
Soybeans are a high-quality complete plant protein source (meaning they contain all 9 essential amino acids needed by our bodies), and come packed with many nutrients. Not surprisingly then, tofu is a nutrient-dense protein-rich food source. For example, a half-cup of tofu (124g) gives you 94 calories, 10 grams of protein, over 6 grams of iron, 120 milligrams of phosphorus, 150 milligrams of potassium, as well as other nutrients like fiber, magnesium, choline and folate.
Note that if calcium sulfate is used as a salt coagulant in the production process, the resulting tofu will also have a higher calcium content. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central Database, just a quarter block of firm tofu (81g) prepared with calcium sulfate already provides you a whopping 553 milligrams of calcium, which is nearly double that in a cup (240mL) of cow’s milk. The best part is that the bioavailability of the calcium is also similar between calcium-sulfate set tofu and cow’s milk, meaning that it is similarly well absorbed into our bodies. That’s good news, isn’t it?
Tofu is such a great source of calories, protein and other nutrients not just for adults, but also for young children too. Its relatively soft texture is especially suited for older babies learning to eat solids.
How To Eat Tofu
I LOVE tofu! Ok, I may be biased because I grew up eating it, but I also just love the fact that it’s nutrient-packed and is so versatile in the plant-based kitchen. You can really use tofu in so many ways to make tasty plant-based dishes!
Tofu can be bought plain or flavored with spices, fermented or dried, and can be baked, grilled or fried. You can easily add tofu to soups, stir-fries, noodles, burritos, make tofu scramble or even vegetable tofu skewers with them! On hot days you can even eat silken or soft tofu cold, with just a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil drizzled over it. For soups, you can use any type of tofu, but the best tofu for stir-fry dishes is extra firm or firm tofu as it won’t fall apart as easily in the pan.
For those new to soy, I would recommend beginning by adding in 1-2 servings of soy a day, then you can gradually increase this to 3-5 servings a day of soy as desired. An example of a serving of soy is 1 cup of soy milk, or a 1/2 cup of tofu, tempeh, soybeans or soy meats.
At this point, you may be wondering where to buy tofu. Most grocery stores will carry some fresh tofu in the refrigerated plant-based or vegan section of the store. You may also be able to find shelf-stable packaged tofu in the “Asian” or “Ethnic” sections of the store. Asian grocery stores usually carry a larger selection of tofu as it is a commonly used ingredient in many Asian cuisines.
If you’re not eating tofu already, I hope this has inspired you to try it out and incorporate it into your plant-based meals!
(Source: Tofu, Raw, Firm, Prepared with Calcium Sulfate. U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172475/nutrients. Accessed March 12, 2022.)
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