Health Food Trends: Tofu

What’s the Big Deal About Tofu?

When someone asks you to think of an alternative to meat and meat byproduct tofu is the first thing that comes to mind. This soy-based product has been popular in America for decades as a great source of protein from dieters, vegetarians, and vegans alike. But how much do we know about it? Is it really good for you, and if so, what can we benefit from it? The only way to know the truth is to look it up. So let’s dive in and find out how tofu came to be as well as how far it has come.

tofu

Origins

Tofu is a lot older than most people think. If someone from America didn’t know any better, they would swear it was a byproduct of the 60’s hippie craze. The truth is it has been a dietary staple for centuries in the Eastern part of the world.

Tofu, as we call it today, is the Japanese word for processed soymilk that is processed through salt from seawater and is pressed into large white blocks. Its processing technique is not that much different from making cheese and has been the staple of the Japanese diet for centuries. But that is not where Tofu came from.

The Japanese, before us, borrowed both the cooking technique and the word from another country of origin. Tofu is a derivative of the Chinese word “dofu” and the earliest signs of its creation have been dated far back from the Han Dynasty (220 BCE – CE 220). However, it wasn’t a main staple of the Chinese diet until much later in the Song dynasty (960CE–1279CE).  Back then, it was popular among the lower classes and could only be made and sold during the wintertime. Over time its popularity spread throughout Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia from either migrants who came from China or Japanese soldiers trying to gain territory over time.

It was first mentioned in America as “Chinese cheese” by Benjamin Franklin to John Bartram via letter in 1770. However, it was not well known or mainstream in America until the 20th century.  From there, the West was exposed to Eastern cuisine.

Types of Tofu

Because tofu is such a well-traveled food, over time there have been several different types that have been developed as a byproduct of cultural exchange and experimentation with ingredients.

tofu

There are types of tofu that differ in texture such as the firm tofu or the silken.  And, there are types of tofu that differ from the type of milk such as almond, chickpea, and peanut tofu. There is a website dedicated to classifying the different types of tofu that exist and have recipes. You should check them out if you are interested in experimenting with it.

 

Nutritional Benefits of Traditional Tofu

Since it is made from soybean curds, it naturally has a high amount of protein and a low amount of carbs. It has a good source of calcium since it comes from soymilk. And because it is derived from a bean, it also has a good source of iron.  Also, because it is made of soy, it has the same benefits that come from soy, mainly isoflavones
According to the lead scientists studying the nutrient “The consumption of soy products has many health benefits, including protection against breast cancer, prostate cancer, menopausal symptoms, heart disease and osteoporosis. Many of these health benefits of soy are derived from its isoflavones.”
There are about 177 calories in a single block, which isn’t too bad.
If you think you want to experiment with putting it in your daily diet, then go ahead. Just don’t overdo it and you should be fine. 

If you like this article, you can find some more here and here. If you want to contact nutritionist Bekah Dewitt, click here, then click on the pop-up!


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