LifestyleA protein-packed alternative to chicken that won't break the bank

A protein-packed alternative to chicken that won't break the bank

Why is it worth including tofu in the diet?
Why is it worth including tofu in the diet?
Images source: © Pixabay

7:47 PM EDT, November 3, 2023

Tofu, sometimes referred to as Asian cottage cheese, is commonly linked to vegan cuisine. This nutrient-dense product is derived from soy milk, which in turn is produced from ground and cooked soybeans. Tofu possesses many beneficial health properties that might appeal to even the most staunch meat enthusiasts, with seniors especially encouraged to add tofu to their diets.

The origin story of tofu is somewhat veiled in mystery. Its inception is the focus of many legends, one of which suggests it was invented in 164 BC by a Chinese man named Liu An. Another legend proposes it was stumbled upon accidentally, a byproduct of mixing soy milk with sea salt. Regardless of its historical genesis, tofu has since been recognized as a valuable component of a balanced diet, not only for vegetarians but for anyone seeking nutritious food alternatives.

Tofu: A powerhouse of nutrients and health benefits

Tofu is loaded with beneficial nutrients. Foremost among these is its status as a rich source of protein. It also boasts a good amount of calcium and phosphorus, as well as phytohormones which can potentially mitigate cancer risks, mitigate menopausal symptoms, and help regulate cholesterol levels. Tofu supplies our bodies with essentials like zinc, selenium, and B vitamins. An abundantly high isoflavone content is another unique attribute, noted for its heart benefits and blood vessel fortification.

When it comes to proteins specifically, tofu impressively contains nine essential amino acids. The soy protein in tofu is an excellent provider of exogenous amino acids and presents a beneficial amino acid profile. Consequently, tofu can serve as a stellar alternative to animal protein (100 grams of tofu contains 12 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat, and 3 grams of carbohydrates).

What does tofu taste like? Who should consider it, and who should be cautious?

One of tofu's most prominent features is its mild taste. This white soybean curd doesn't possess a distinctive flavor of its own - instead, it tends to absorb the flavor of other ingredients it's cooked with. This makes it a versatile addition to a myriad of dishes, be they spicy or sweet. Prepared correctly, it can mimic the tastes of fish, beef, or even game. Tofu proves to be a great supplement to many recipes, including salads and excels when fried, baked, or boiled.

Tofu can be an excellent substitute for chicken.
Tofu can be an excellent substitute for chicken.© Pixabay

Seniors in particular, who often grapple with waning appetite, can benefit from including tofu in their meals. However, some caution is advisable due to the potential for an allergic reaction from soy, the primary ingredient of tofu. In addition, people with kidney stones, gallstones, congenital hypothyroidism, or hypothyroidism should avoid including tofu in their diets.

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