It is well evident that the popularity of veganism is rising exponentially all around the world these days. People are realizing the health benefits that plant foods can offer and are hence switching to a vegan diet. Some people even switch to veganism due to ethical and environmental reasons. Vegan beginners often have issues in coping with their new lifestyle. They may find it very hard to eat meals without any meat. However, there are several plant-based alternatives for meat that have similar taste, texture, and nutritional content as that of meat. One such vegan meat substitute is tofu.
What Is Tofu?
Tofu is a plant-based meat substitute that is made from condensed soy milk. After condensation, it is pressured into sturdy white blocks. This process is very similar to that of the making of cheese. Tofu first originated in China and then became popular all around the world as people began to look for vegan meat substitutes.
It is believed that tofu was first made by accident when a Chinese cook mixed fresh soy milk with nigari, which is the solution that remains after salt is extracted from seawater. Tofu is rich in several healthy nutrients, which makes it a perfect plant-based substitute for meat. This vegan meat substitute is very abundant in essential amino acids and protein.
Just 100 grams serving of tofu contains a gram of fiber, 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of fat, and 2 grams of carbs. Tofu also contains essential minerals like manganese, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium, etc. When compared to other plant-based foods, the calorie count in tofu is very low. Just 70 calories in 100 gram serving of tofu.
One drawback of tofu is that it contains antinutrients such as phytates and trypsin inhibitors that can decrease the ability of your body to absorb the essential nutrients. For reducing the antinutrients in tofu, the manufacturers soak the soybeans in water or cook them. The fermentation process also helps eliminate some of the antinutrients in soybeans.
One of the major benefits of tofu is that it contains isoflavones, a natural plant compound. This compound can act as phytoestrogens. That means it will get attached to the estrogen receptors present in your body and trigger them. 20.2-24.7 mg of isoflavones are present in just 3.5 ounces of tofu.
Health Benefits Of Eating Tofu
One of the reasons why health experts are recommending adding tofu to your vegan meal is that it offers a wide range of health benefits. A few of the important ones are:
Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease
Few studies looked into the effect of tofu on your heart health. It proved that the consumption of legumes can help in improving your heart health. Since tofu is made from soybean, it can also help in improving your heart health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
The isoflavones present in tofu can reduce the inflammation in the blood vessels and improve their elasticity, which will improve the blood flow through the blood vessels. This helps with minimizing the risk of experiencing a stroke. The protein present in tofu will help in managing the levels of blood fat and lower the risk of heart disease.
Eating tofu is very beneficial for postmenopausal women because of the presence of isoflavone in it. This plant compound can improve your body mass index and control the levels of LDL cholesterol and insulin in your body. Saponin, another compound present in tofu, also has several protective effects that will improve your heart health.
Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
Studies have revealed that eating soy products once a weak could reduce the risk of breast cancer by around 55%. This effect of soy products mainly come from the presence of isoflavones, which can influence the blood estrogen levels and the menstrual cycle. A 2-year study on postmenopausal women showed that eating 2 servings of soy daily could reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Recent studies are showing that consuming tofu in high amounts will lower the risk of developing stomach cancer in men by 61 %. Another study looked at the effects of consuming tofu on stomach cancer in women and showed that it could decrease the risk by 59 %. Several studies also show that eating soy products regularly could reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Reduce The Risk Of Diabetes
Recent test-tube studies are showing that the isoflavones present in soy products are very helpful in controlling blood sugar levels. One study that was conducted on menopausal women showed that consuming 100 mg of isoflavones daily helped in reducing the blood sugar levels by 15 %.
Other Benefits Of Tofu
The high amount of isoflavones in tofu helps in improving your bone health and brain function. Scientific studies are also showing evidence for the ability of isoflavones to promote weight loss and improve skin elasticity.