Friday, September 30, 2011

Tofu - Healthy and Delicious (if you make it so...)

I began eating a fair bit of tofu after reading David Servan-Schreiber's Anticancer book. I trust him, because his book is incredibly well researched and he walks the talk. Once I began experimenting with different ways to marinate the tofu I learned to really enjoy it as well. Tofu was discovered over 2000 years ago in China, were it was called doufu. Legend has it, that a cook added seaweed nigari to soy milk and caused it to curdle - voila! Today you can get tofu in various consistencies, from soft or silken to extra-firm. Tofu is very bland, which makes it incredibly versatile and therefore it's up to you to make it tasty. My downstairs neighbors gave me an excellent tip: cut the tofu in slabs, wrap it in a dry cloth and place some weight on it for 20 min to get the moisture out. This will make the tofu more absorbent, allowing it to take on more of the flavor of the marinade. Tofu can also be frozen in the original package, which will alter the consistency and appearance, making it more spongy and absorbent as well as a bit more yellow.
Tofu is an excellent source of protein, with virtually no saturated fats and relatively few calories. On top of that, tofu provides many health benefits. It can help lower LDL Cholesterol levels by as much as 35%-40% and helps other parts of your cardiovascular system run smoothly. For women going through menopause, soy can help alleviate some of the symptoms like hot flashes. Soy contains phytoestrogens, which are basically plant based hormones. In premenopausal women, whose estrogen levels are erratic, these phytoestrogens can dock onto estrogen receptors and act like very, very weak estrogens. When estrogen levels are high, they block out estrogen and when levels are low, they can provide just enough estrogen to reduce uncomfortable symptoms.
While there is an overwhelming amount of research that outlines the numerous health benefits of soy, there has also been some concerns. It seem clear at this point that eating soy is healthy, so long as you are not allergic or have a soy intolerance. The question is, how much is too much. I would suggest that eating everything soy, from soy milk, to soy yogurt, to tofu and soy cheese may be a bit much. But eating tofu on a regular basis is a great way to enjoy a more plant based diet. As a society, we are eating too much meat, and it's not just detrimental to our health but the environmental footprint of this enormous meat consumption is also wrecking havoc.

For more info on tofu, check out
And check out this link, where some of the concerns you may have regarding soy are addressed:

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