BENEFITS High in protein Low in saturated fats Good source of calcium and phytoestrogens, and a useful source of vitamin E May help to protect against some forms of cancer and heart diseaseDRAWBACKS
High in protein
Low in saturated fats
Good source of calcium and phytoestrogens, and a useful source of vitamin E
May help to protect against some forms of cancer and heart disease
Soya is a common food allergen
Known as the 'cheese of Asia', soft creamy coloured tofu is made by grinding cooked soya beans to produce a milk that is then solidified with a mineral coagulant (calcium sulphate). Tofu is high in protein, very low in saturated fats, and cholesterol-free. A 100g (3 1/2 oz) serving of steamed tofu contains about 73 calories.
Tofu is naturally bland and can therefore be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. There are two basic types: silken tofu, which is soft and suitable for making dressings, sauces and dairy-free products such as ice cream or cheesecake, and firm tofu, which is more solid and can be marinated to give it some flavour. Firm tofu can be stir-fried, grilled, scrambled, pickled, smoked, baked and even barbecued. Steamed tofu is a good source of calcium (from the calcium sulphate used to make it) and a useful source of manganese and vitamin E. It also contains phosphorus and iron, and is therefore useful as part of a balanced vegetarian diet. Tofu can be substituted for meat in many recipes.
Soya beans and soya-bean products such as tofu and soya sauce are also being examined for their possible role in helping to protect against cancer (particularly breast cancer), osteoporosis and menopausal symptoms. Their protective qualities come from the hormone-like activity of phytoestrogens present in these foods. Soya beans and their products also help to lower blood cholesterol thereby protecting against cardiovascular disease. There is also evidence that soya products are protective against prostate cancer.
Because the soya bean's fibre is removed during manufacturing, tofu is very easy to digest. However, it will absorb about 15 per cent of the fat used for frying. Soya is also known to be one of the more common food allergens.
When buying fresh tofu, smell it first to make sure that it is not sour. Packaged tofu will have a freshness date stamped on the wrapping. Rinse the tofu and store it in the refrigerator in fresh cold water. Change the water daily and use within three to four days.