About fifteen hundred years ago the Japanese imported many aspects of Chinese culture : the writing system, political institutions, and perhaps most important, Buddhism.
Buddhist priests were expected to eat only vegetables, and tofu (bean curd), made from the soybean, was a very important food in their diet. When Buddhism was introduced from China, tofu was also brought to Japan.
Here are some key points about tofu. More detail is in the main article.
- Tofu is an important source of protein for many vegetarians and vegans.
- It may help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
- It may offer relief for certain symptoms of menopause.
- One block of tofu contains 177 calories.
The health benefits of tofu
Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all eight essential amino acids. It is also an excellent source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese, selenium and phosphorous.
In addition, tofu is a good source of magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1.
Tofu is an excellent food from a nutritional and health perspective. It is thought to provide the same sort of protection against cancer and heart disease as soya beans.
A diet that contains a variety of plant-based foods appears to contribute to overall health and wellbeing, and a lower risk of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Tofu Contains Many Nutrients
Tofu is high in protein, and contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. It also contains fats, carbs and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.
One 3.5-oz (100-gram) serving of tofu contains:
- Protein : 8 grams.
- Carbs : 2 grams.
- Fiber : 1 gram.
- Fat : 4 grams.
- Manganese : 31% of the RDI.
- Calcium : 20% of the RDI.
- Selenium : 14% of the RDI.
- Phosphorus : 12% of the RDI.
- Copper : 11% of the RDI.
- Magnesium : 9% of the RDI.
- Iron : 9% of the RDI.
- Zinc : 6% of the RDI.
This comes with only 70 total calories, which makes tofu a highly nutrient-dense food.
Is eating tofu good for weight loss?
Eating tofu, which is made from soybeans, may help you lose excess body weight if you consume it as part of a reduced-calorie diet. Tofu is commonly eaten by people following vegetarian diets.
It can enhance the skin and hair, boost energy, and help maintain a healthy weight.
Tofu developed in different ways in China and Japan
While the Chinese often changed the taste of tofu by mixing it with strongly-flavored vegetables or meat, the Japanese preferred to eat it using only a simple sauce.
Even now, traditional Japanese cooking preserves the original delicacy of tofu, though the way it is served may change from season to season. In summer, for example, it is simply served cold, while in winter it is often eaten as part of a hot dish.
The tofu which is popular among Westerners
The soybean was introduced to the West in the eighteenth century, but little interest was taken in it ; only scientists recognized its high food value. During the Second World War, when meat was in short supply, the U.S. government encouraged the American people to eat soybean products.
However, they never became very popular and, after the war, interest in them dropped off as the supply of meat became plentiful again.
In recent years, people in the West have become increasingly aware of the dangers of eating too much animal fat, and as a result, they have turned more and more to soybean products. This is mainly because the soybean provides almost the same food value as meat, and in addition is a lot more healthful.
Much of the margarine, salad oil, and cooking oil in daily use is now produced from soybean oil. Tofu, a representative soybean product and originally one of the main foods in the diet of Chinese priests, is considered to be one of the healthiest foods available to man.
The tofu which is effective for diseases
Research has linked tofu, with its high levels of isoflavones, to a lower risk of several age- and lifestyle-related diseases.
1. Cardiovascular disease《Read more》
Soy isoflavines have been found to help reduce levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol, although it does not seem to increase HDL or “good” cholesterol levels.
Studies have indicated that daily consumption of soy may decrease markers for cardiovascular disease risk, including weight, body mass index (BMI), and total cholesterol.
Consuming tofu as an alternative to animal protein can help lower levels of LDL cholesterol. This, in turn, decreases the risk of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
2. Breast and prostate cancer《Read more》
Scientists expect genistein to have anticancer effects. Several clinical and experimental investigations have suggested that genistein, the predominant isoflavone in soy, has antioxidant properties that may inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
In the past, confusion has arisen about the safety of consuming soy after a breast cancer diagnosis. This is because isoflavones have a chemical structure similar to that of estrogen, and high levels of estrogen can increase the risk of breast cancer.
However, consuming moderate amounts, or less than two servings a day, of whole soy foods, does not appear to affect tumor growth or the risk of developing breast cancer.
Instead, there is growing evidence that regular soy intake may decrease breast cancer recurrence. However, the evidence is not yet strong enough to recommend soy to all breast cancer survivors.
3. Type 2 diabetes《Read more》
People with type 2 diabetes often experience kidney disease, causing the body to excrete an excessive amount of protein in the urine.
Evidence from one study has indicated that those who consumed only soy protein in their diet excreted less protein than those who only consumed animal protein.
The researchers propose that this could benefit patients with type 2 diabetes.
4. Kidney function《Read more》
Protein, and particularly soy protein, may enhance renal function, and it could have benefits for people who are undergoing dialysis or kidney transplantation.
5. Osteoporosis《Read more》
Soy isoflavones may help reduce bone loss and increase bone mineral density, especially after menopause. They have also been reported to reduce some other symptoms of menopause.
6. Symptoms of menopause《Read more》
Some research has suggested that consuming soy products may help relieve symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes.
7. Liver damage《Read more》
One study in rats has suggested that any type of tofu that has been curdled with various coagulants may help prevent liver damage caused by free radicals.
8. Age-related brain diseases《Read more》
In regions where people consume more soy, there is a lower incidence of age-related mental disorders. One research group found that treatment with soy isoflavones was linked to better performance in nonverbal memory, verbal fluency and other functions.
Soy products may help people with Alzheimer’s due to their lecithin content, which helps the body produce the phospholipids phosphatidic acid (PA) and phosphatidylserine (PS). PA and PS play an important role in the functioning of neurones.