Protein-rich, plant-based and other advantages
Tofu, a soya product, is rich in high-quality vegetable proteins. Proteins are made up of amino acids. Our body also makes proteins and the amino acids needed for this process are called essential amino acids. These can be found in animal protein sources such as meat, fish, shellfish and eggs, but also in soy products like tofu. However, vitamin B12, found in animal products, is not found in soy products.
Amount of protein
The amount of protein contained by tofu depends on its firmness. The less water– so the firmer the texture – the more protein the tofu contains. Here we show how much protein is contained in 85 grams of tofu:
Silken 4 - 5 g
Regular 6 - 8 g
Firm 8 - 9 g
Extra-firm 9 - 10 g
Super-firm > 14 g
Nutrients per 100 grams of firm tofu
Proteins: 8 g
Total fats: 4 g
of which Unsaturated fats: 3 g
of which Saturated fats: 1 g
Carbohydrates: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 12 mg
Contains: Vitamin K, vitamin B, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, niacin, folic acid and pantothenic acid
Plus minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, copper, manganese and selenium
Low in fat
Firm tofu, the most common type of tofu, contains only 4 grams of fat per 100 grams, 3 grams of which are unsaturated fats. Since tofu contains few saturated fats, there is no danger for your cholesterol levels, unlike eating meat.
Tofu is rich in iron, potassium and magnesium, as well as calcium when a calcium phosphate is used as a coagulant.
Tofu has a low glycaemic index (GI), meaning that it will not make your blood sugar shoot upas long as you are not using a lot of sugar in the marinade.
Suitable for vegans
Tofu is a 100% plant-based product and therefore suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets. The enzyme used to coagulate soymilk is not derived from animals.
Tofu is gluten-free as long as the marinade used does not contain gluten. Some soy sauces, for example, contain wheat.
Tofu is 100% plant-based and lactose-free.
Natural tofu does not contain salt, but pre-seasoned tofu often does. Those on low-salt diets must be careful with marinades; traditional sauces like soy sauce and ketjap manis contain salt.
Tofu can be consumed when following a low-FODMAP diet as it is made from soya milk and not soybeans. The fibres that are difficult for the bowels to digest which are found in soybeans (and for example in tempeh) are not in tofu.
Good for athletes
Tofu is perfect for (pro-)athletes as it rich in protein, low in calories and contains few saturated fats.
No vitamin B12
While many animal products contain vitamin B12, soy products, including tofu, do not.
Those who follow a raw-food diet cannot eat tofu. Tofu requires heat processing (at temperatures above the permitted limit of 37 °C), making it unacceptable for strict raw-food diets.
Tempeh versus tahoe
Tempeh is made from crushed and fermented soybeans while tofu is made from curdled soya milk. Tempeh is much firmer and drier, and has a very distinct flavour. Tofu is much softer in texture and neutral in taste, making it more versatile in the kitchen. Those who follow the low-FODMAP diet can eat tofu but not tempeh as tempeh contains the entire soybean, and so all the fibres.
Unfortunately, those who are allergic to soy cannot eat tofu. For more information, visit FoodAllergy.org
Sustainability and tofu
Most soy that is grown is harvested as animal feed. Unfortunately, this is very inefficient as 5 kilograms of vegetable animal feed is required for 1 kilogram of meat. It’s much more sustainable for us to eat soy products than to use them as animal feed. In addition, production for plant-based products, like that of soybeans, uses much less energy, water, land and resources than farming cattle.
Tofu: Attack on the rainforests?
The soy that is harvested for animal feed is grown in tropical rainforests. Soy meant for human consumption is grown in the US, Canada, China and Europe. There are no forests or jungles cut down for the production of this kind of soy.
Organic tofu = GMO free
Organic tofu is made from organic soy and since genetic modification is forbidden in organic agriculture, organic tofu is always free of GMO.