The highly nutritious, protein-rich tofu is commonly called ‘the cheese of Asia’ and is prepared by curdling soybean milk. It is usually off-white in color and forms an important constituent in the cultural cuisines of many Asian countries, like China and Japan. Though the food is of Chinese origin, certain parts of East Asia and Southeast Asia use tofu to prepare a variety of dishes. Tofu was introduced in Japan during the 8th century and was originally referred to as ‘okabe’. It was only during the 15th century that the food became popular as ‘tofu’. The food has high amounts of iron and proteins and is relatively low in calorie content. It also has high amounts of calcium and magnesium levels. Also, tofu contains certain soy isoflavones, which can actually mimic natural human estrogens, causing certain beneficial effects in human body. To know more about the health benefits of consuming tofu, read the pointers given below.
Health Benefits Of Eating Tofu
- Tofu has high amounts of the trace mineral selenium which is very important for the proper functioning of the antioxidant system. A good antioxidant system helps reduce the level of free radicals (harmful) in the body. Due to its powerful antioxidant actions, selenium helps prevent the occurrence of colon cancer - by protecting colon cells from cancer causing toxins, reduces asthma and also aids in the prevention of certain heart diseases and arthritic symptoms.
- Studies have indicated that a mere 4 ounces of tofu each day provides around 14.45 of the daily beneficial fat requirement. This beneficial fat or Omega-3-fatty acid helps control erratic heart rhythms, reduces clotting of blood inside arteries and improves the ratio of good HDL to bad LDL.
- A good source of iron, tofu helps in the process of energy production. The iron present in tofu is mainly used as a part of hemoglobin and helps in the transport and release of oxygen throughout the body.
- The copper present in tofu helps in reducing the painful symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Along with manganese, copper also aids the production of an oxidative enzyme called superoxide dismutase. This enzyme is very important in the removal of certain free radicals produced within the mitochondria.
- Tofu contains certain phytoestrogens, like isoflavones, genistein and diadzein, which are very helpful in alleviating the side effects associated with menopause, like hot flashes, and postmenopausal osteoporosis.
- The calcium present in tofu helps reduce the rate of bone loss associated with menopause. The mineral is also very useful in arthritic conditions, which result in considerable amount of bone loss from the body.
- Recent studies have also indicated that regular intake of soy protein helps reduce total cholesterol levels in the body. Thus, it is seen that tofu is very beneficial for people suffering from atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease.
- Tofu contains considerable amount of the naturally occurring substance called oxalate. The presence of high amounts of this substance causes its crystallization, resulting in certain health problems. Hence, people suffering from existing or untreated health problems should avoid the consumption of high amounts of tofu. Oxalates also interfere in the absorption of calcium from the body.
- Certain allergic reactions may occur as a result of consumption of tofu. Such reactions may be immediate and specific or delayed and general. In such cases, it is always advisable to seek the help of a healthcare practitioner.
- For making a tofu aoli dip, mix together soft tofu, garlic and lemon juice.
- You can also scramble soft tofu together with some vegetables and spice turmeric, to produce a yellow-egg like effect.
- In the food processor, blend soft tofu with your favorite fruits and serve as a dessert to your friends and family.