What are the properties and characteristics of tofu? In this article, we will specifically analyze the benefits and contraindications of this food. Tofu has risen to prominence as a food for its many benefits. Moreover, it is used more and more by those who want to eat food similar to cheese but with ingredients not of animal origin, and therefore we are talking about vegans and vegetarians. It is a food of Chinese origin that is very popular in the East (as well as in China and Japan, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, and Cambodia), and in recent years, it has also made its way onto the local table.
What Is Tofu?
It is a food that derives from the curdling of soy milk and its block pressing, made a bit like cheese is made, often used in Italy as a substitute for this food. Tofu exists in different textures: the hardest one – pressed longer to remove the liquid – and the softer one, richer in juice. Having made this brief presentation, let’s see the benefits, properties, and contradictions of excellent and versatile food even in the kitchen, given the many recipes that can be created thanks to tofu.
Tofu: The Properties
What are the properties of tofu? Let’s start with its nutrients. It is a significant protein food of 100 that does not contain cholesterol and boasts a low percentage of saturated fats compared to ordinary cheese. Rich in potassium and low in sodium, tofu is an excellent substitute for cheese in this sense too. It also contains many mineral salts such as phosphorus, iron and calcium. The caloric intake is relatively low ( 76 kcal per 100 g of product), and for this reason, it is food often present in diets to lose weight. Or product nutrients are:
- Proteins: 37%;
- Fats: 52.9% (mainly good, unsaturated fats);
- Carbohydrates: 10.1%.
Tofu is also rich in vitamins, in particular A, B and C and rich in omega -3 and omega-6, the famous fats that are very good for the functioning of the human body. Nutritionally speaking, another great advantage of this cheese is the presence of large quantities of essential amino acids such as lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and cysteine. Compared to the standard cheese, tofu is much more digestible given its vegetable origins and lactose-free, therefore suitable for consumption even by those allergic to lactose. Being also gluten-free, lactose can also be eaten by celiac disease.
Tofu And Benefits
What are the benefits of this nutrient-rich food, tofu? And what, on the other hand, are the contraindications of excessive intake? Speaking of benefits, there is a significant content of antioxidant flavonoids, essential for fighting free radicals. Starting from this, we see a list of beneficial properties of tofu :
- Low-calorie and low-sodium: as already highlighted, tofu contains little sodium and few calories, which makes it a perfect food for overweight people suffering from metabolic syndrome or those who are hypertensive;
- Hypocholesterolemic: tofu contains lecithin, as well as all soy derivatives, which reduces blood cholesterol levels and rebalances plasma lipid concentrations;
- Estrogenic activity: tofu contains isoflavones, polyphenolic compounds that produce effects similar to estrogens helpful in reducing many of the ailments related to menopause;
- Hypoglycemic: tofu has a shallow glycemic index and can be safely eaten even by people with diabetes.
Tofu: Contraindications And Side Effects
But does tofu have any contraindications considering all its benefits? Let’s immediately talk about how tofu can not act as a substitute for meat despite its high protein value. The reasons are found in the lack of essential vitamins such as B12 and D and the lower percentage of proteins. Beyond this, however, tofu has no particular contraindications or side effects. The best choice you can make is organic or directly homemade tofu with organic soybeans and organic soy milk.
Doing so avoids the risk that the chosen product contains soy, which is usually not intended for human consumption but is used to produce feed for farm animals. The only people for whom tofu consumption is not suitable are those allergic to soy. Some doctors advise against its consumption in the presence of thyroid dysfunction, while others argue that it can be consumed without problems after a certain amount of time has passed since the last intake of the thyroid drug.
Making Tofu At Home: Necessary Ingredients
Considering that it is good to prefer homemade tofu with carefully chosen staples, how do you prepare tofu? A traditional recipe involves using two essential ingredients to give life to this food, yellow soybeans and nigari or magnesium chloride (but lemon juice can also be used). This substance is considered the best rennet for making tofu; natural nigari does not include the addition of synthetic substances and is made with what remains once the salt has been extracted from seawater.
It is produced by drying in the sun. Where can you find the essential ingredients to make tofu a home? Yellow soybeans, on the other hand, must be purchased in natural products outlets that also deal with food to be of organic origin. Now let’s see the ingredients to obtain a tofu stick of about 250 grams:
- 7.5 grams of nigari;
- 250 gr of organic yellow soy;
- 2.5 l of water plus the water needed to soak the soybeans;
- kombu seaweed.
Before preparing tofu, the soy needs to soak in a bowl filled with water for at least 24 hours. Please make sure the bowl is at least three times the size of the soybeans it contains. They should be left to soak with a piece of kombu seaweed – which is used to make the tofu even more digestible – remembering to change the water at least once 12 hours have passed. Soybeans are left to soak, increase volume, and take on an oval shape.