Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a popular food ingredient in Asia, particularly the East and the South East region. It is made by coagulating the soy milk and pressing the curds into soft and white blocks. A famous inclusion in most Asian dishes, tofu is known to have several health benefits.
Tofu is rich in vitamins and minerals. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, bean curd contains vitamin B, which is essential for proper impulse transmission in the body’s nervous system. It also has minerals like calcium, copper, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and zinc, which are important in bone health, oxygenation, neuromuscular coordination, gastrointestinal health, and wound healing. To add, tofu also have omega-3 fats, which are good for the heart and the blood vessels.
Tofu helps provide estrogen, the hormone responsible for the appearance of female sex characteristics. According to BBC Good Food, tofu contains the phytoestrogens isoflavones, which are chemical groups found in plant foods like the aforementioned. As per the publication, these chemicals possess the same structure to estrogen; thus, it is assumed that they also have the same activities as the female hormone. It is added that they naturally attach to estrogen receptor sites in the cells, which includes the breast cells, and help reduce the risk of having breast cancer.
With the isoflavones’ estrogen receptor binding capacity, many women choose to add foods rich in soya in their diet as they approach menopause, a stage in a woman’s life when the body’s natural estrogen production declines.
Diabetes and Cardiovascular Health
Tofu can help prevent diabetes and heart diseases. According to Authority Nutrition, a study involving post-menopausal women found that intake of 100 mg of soy isoflavones per day decreased blood sugar levels by 15 percent and insulin levels by 23 percent. Also, diabetic post-menopausal women who had 30 g of isolated soy protein as supplement had lowered fasting insulin levels by 8.1 percent and insulin resistance by 6.5 percent. In terms of cardiovascular health indicators, the findings revealed decreased low-density lipoproteins or bad cholesterol by 7.1 percent and overall cholesterol levels by 4.1 percent.
Tofu can be added to or made into various meal recipes, such as Tofu Parmigiana. According to Eating Well, the ingredients include 14-ounce package firm or extra-firm water-packed tofu, one-fourth plain dry breadcrumbs, one teaspoon of Italian seasoning, one-fourth teaspoon of garlic powder, one-fourth teaspoon salt, two teaspoons and a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil, one small onion (chopped), eight ounce white mushrooms (thinly sliced), one-fourth cup of Parmesan cheese, three-fourth cup marinara sauce, one-half cup shredded mozzarella cheese, and two tablespoons chopped fresh basil.
To prepare, the breadcrumbs and the Italian seasoning are combined in a shallow dish. Next, the tofu is cut lengthwise into four steaks and is pat dry. Then, garlic powder and salt are sprinkled to the tofu sides before putting to the breadcrumb mixture. Once done, two teaspoons of oil are heated in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Next, onions are added and cooked while stirring for about three minutes, until they start to brown. Then, mushrooms are added and cooked for four minutes, until they release their juices and become brown in color. After that, the resulting mixture is transferred to the bowl.
The remaining tablespoon of oil is added to the pan. Then, the tofu steaks are added and cooked for three minutes until they are browned on one side. After that, they are turned over and are sprinkled with Parmesan. Next, the mushroom mixture is spooned over the tofu and the marinara is poured over the mushrooms. After that, the mozzarella is scattered on top. Then, the food is covered and cooked until the sauce is hot and the cheese is melted. Finally, the dish is sprinkled with basil before serving.
Overall, tofu has various health benefits. Adding it to the meal recipes will promote the health and wellness of a person and his family.