Some of the health benefits of tofu for kids and pregnant women are that it is high in protein, low in calories, it helps in losing weight, it is high in iron, it has antioxidative properties, it is a good source of unsaturated fats and it can prevent cancer.
Another name for tofu is bean curd, because it is made from coagulated soy milk. First, we must understand a little bit about soy milk. Soy milk is generally produced by wet grinding soy bean seeds soaked in water or by adding water to full-fat soy flour. This method originated in Asian countries, especially in China and extends up to Japan. The milk thus obtained is used for making tofu. Tofu is made by coagulation of soy milk. Even the making of tofu is can be dated back to more than 2000 years in China during the Han dynasty. Slowly, it spread to other Asian countries including Korea and Japan in the first century AD.
Why is tofu a main interest these days?
Tofu is gaining good amount of popularity in the West mainly due to its substitution for milk. Strict vegan people can consume soy milk and tofu and still maintain good health. One of the biggest advantages of tofu is that it has fewer calories and high amount of protein in comparison to milk.
Source: Boston Magazine
Are there any varieties of tofu available?
Yes, there are mainly three varieties of tofu available. The amount of water extracted from soy milk determines the structure and texture of tofu. And likewise, there are different types of tofu available.
These include soft tofu, firm tofu, extra firm tofu, dried tofu threads, fermented tofu, pickled tofu, stinky tofu, fried tofu, frozen tofu, koya-dofu, etc. Tofu preparation also results in byproducts which include tofu skin, okara (soy-pulp), etc.
Health benefits of tofu for kids and pregnant women
Here are some of the health benefits of tofu for kids and pregnant women
Very low in calories: As mentioned earlier, tofu has very low amount of calories. This makes it ideal for people who want to consume the protein and not calories. This can be good protein supplement for pregnant women who’d need as much of protein.
Is high in protein: Tofu, just like cottage cheese has high amount of protein. In fact, the protein content in 100g of tofu is 47g. This is dried-frozen tofu. As we all know that protein is the most important ingredient of food and it is much needed for growing up children, pregnant women and nursing mothers. For vegans, tofu can be the Holy Grail of protein-food.
It is high in iron: Tofu has good amount of iron in it, making it a better food supplement for pregnant women who need iron for producing hemoglobin, myoglobin, callogen and other enzymes and it can also strengthen the immune system. During pregnancy, there is an increase in blood to upto 50% in the body and thus the body needs a good source of iron for the above mentioned activities.
It is high in calcium: Another mineral that is much needed for not only pregnant women but also for children is calcium. As we all know, calcium is indispensable for good bone growth in the body. Pregnant women need calcium because the fetus needs calcium for developing bone, teeth, healthy heart, nerves and muscles and calcium can help in achieving it. Tofu can act as a good source of calcium apart from milk and cheese.
Is rich in antioxidants: As tofu is a plant product, it being a good source of antioxidants might not come as a surprise. One study has found that the antioxidants present in tofu can act as or initiate the same kind of response for hypertensive medications. This can be helpful for people who suffering from the risk of developing hypertension. Apart from this benefit, the antioxidative effect can reduce oxidative stress in others.
Is rich in flavonoids and isoflavonoids: Tofu is a good source of Isoflavones and isoflavanoids. These also act as good antioxidative agents. One study showed the free radical scavenging of the isoflavones and isoflavonoids present in tofu. As mentioned in our earlier articles, antioxidants are good for health because they keep free radical scavenging in the body at minimum.
Can help in preventing cancer: Tofu and its predecessor soy are known to contain a biocompound known as genistein. From various studies it has been noted that women who consume food which has genistein, particularly tofu or soy have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. This can be a good news for women whose main concern in the recent times is developing breast cancer and/ or cervical cancer.
Can help in reducing weight: Consuming tofu regularly can help in reducing weight. One study has showed that soy-based diet can reduce body fat and also reduce serum cholesterol levels. This was compared to traditional low-calorie diet and the study also showed that it is much effective than traditional low-calorie diet.
Is a good source of polyunsaturated fats: Though the content of fat is lower in tofu in general, the amount of good fat ie (polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats) in dried-frozen tofu is at a moderate level. Consuming polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats can always be a good because these fats are healthy fats.
Nutrition in Tofu (Dried-frozen)
According to the National Nutrient Database from the USDA, the nutrition found in tofu include
|Nutrition||Per 100g||Nutrition||Per 100g|
|Water||5.78 g||Energy||480 kcal|
|Protein||47.9 g||Total Lipid||30 g|
|Fiber||7.2 g||Carbohydrates||14 g|
|Calcium||364 mg||Iron||9.7 g|
|Magnesium||59 mg||Phosphorus||483 mg|
|Potassium||20 mg||Sodium||6 mg|
|Zinc||4.9 g||Copper||1.1 mg|
|Vitamin C||0.7 mg||Thiamin||0.49 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.31 mg||Niacin||1.1 mg|
|Pantothenic Acid||0.4 mg||Vitamin B6||0.28 mg|
|Folate||92 ug||Vitamin A||518 IU|
Risks associated with Soy and its products
Soy allergy: Soy allergy is the biggest hamper and biggest threat for anyone who wants to consume soy and soy based products like soy milk or tofu. In most cases, mild symptoms can be hives or itching, itchy eyes, dry throat, rashes, nausea, diarrhea, difficulty in breathing, etc. And in extreme cases, soy allergy can lead to anaphylactic shock and death. If your family has a history of allergies, please consult your physician or pediatrician for a solution. Look for telltale signs first. This can help you in determining whether or not to continue with soy and soy based products for your kids.
Effects of phytic acid: Phytic acid is a biocompound found in soy and its products. One property of phytic acid is that it can bind itself to minerals. This is good in one way that it can block toxic heavy metals such as mercury and lead, but it can also block essential elements that your body needs. Particularly if you’re pregnant, then you’d need a good amount of mineral intake such as iron, copper, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, etc for healthy development of the fetus.
Dual nature of Genistein: The biocompound found in soy and tofu (genistein) is known to have a dual nature, in the sense that it can act as both cancer-causing and cancer preventing biocompound. The peculiarity of this biocompound is being studied and researched. So, it is better to consume tofu and soy in moderation.
Though, tofu can offer numerous health benefits, yet it is advised to be little careful while consuming it because of the risks involved with it.