Tofu, or bean curd, is a popular food derived from soya. It is made by adding a mineral salt (usually, calcium sulphate) and water to a soybean mash.
In fact, it is made by curdling fresh soya milk, pressing it into a solid block and then cooling it â€“ in much the same way that traditional dairy cheese is made by curdling and solidifying milk. The liquid (whey) is discarded, and the curds are pressed to form a cohesive bond.
The mineral salt makes the protein and fiber in the soy mash turn thick and smooth. Depending upon the amount of water it contains, tofu may vary in consistency. Tofu is rich in calcium and is an inexpensive source of protein, making it a good vegetarian substitute for meat or dairy products.
Plain tofu has almost no taste, but it readily absorbs the flavor of herbs and spices added when you prepare a meal. Tofu is a versatile food and an important part of East Asian cuisines. In fact, itâ€™s the main way that soy foods are eaten in China, Japan and Korea.
1. Beauty Benefits of Tofu
Protein creates skin cells. These cells are replenished in a four week cycle which continuously replaces old cells with new cells. Consequently, people must constantly replenish protein. However, when animal protein is ingested, fats that include saturated fatty acids are also absorbed into the system. This results in the secretion of excess fats through the skin, causing the pores to open wide. In order to maintain a smooth complexion, it is considered beneficial to take vegetable proteins such as those contained in typical soybean products such as tofu.
Additionally, constipation, another ailment frequently seen in women, also causes skin problems, so it is important to ingest fiber to invigorate intestinal activity. Okara, the by-product of tofu, retains all the dietary fiber, so eating tofu together with okara is ideal for healthy skin.
2. Tofu Benefits During Menstruation
Tofu is also an ideal food during menstruation. The calcium and B vitamins contained in tofu help to soothe the nerves, and a stable mentality helps to resolve irritability. Some women also experience stiff shoulders and coldness in the hands and feet during menstruation. Eating â€œyu-dofuâ€ (boiled tofu) will warm up the body and alleviate the coldness while the unsaturated fatty acid in the tofu will lower cholesterol and improve circulation.
3. Tofu Benefits During Pregnancy
Tofu can be beneficial for women suffering a loss of appetite during pregnancy due to morning sickness. Protein is an essential nutrient for the development of the unborn child, the placenta, and for sustaining and increasing amniotic fluid.
4. Tofu Benefits During Menopause
Women seeking relief from menopause symptoms and to minimize risk for osteoporosis and other post-menopause-related health conditions often turn to tofu and other soy products. A review of previously published research that appeared in the July 2011 issue of the journal â€œMenopauseâ€ found soy isoflavones may offer modest relief from menopause symptoms, though studies have produced mixed results.
5. Tofu for Cardiovascular Health
Tofu provides protein with little of the saturated fat and none of the moral indigestion that comes with meat. Moreover, in the past decade, research has emerged suggesting that scarfing down soy may also play an active role in extending our lives. In 1999, soy protein earned a highly coveted FDA-allowed health claim: Diets that include 25 gramsâ€”about a pound of tofuâ€”a day may reduce the risk of heart disease. Add to this the number of studies showing that soy protein might also help protect against prostate cancer.
6. Tofu for Circulatory Health
Proteins in tofu offer cholesterol-lowering and blood-thinning benefits, according to Towson University. A study published in the April 2012 issue of â€œCurrent Pharmaceutical Biotechnologyâ€ found that phytoestrogen compounds in soy foods, such as tofu, reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, the bad form of cholesterol. Isoflavones also decrease elevated blood pressure and prevent blood clot and arterial plaque formation by improving function of the inner linings of blood vessels. However, noted researchers, the potential health benefits you derive from eating tofu depend on your bodyâ€™s ability to convert the isoflavone daidzein into its active form, called equol, a process that relies on a certain population of intestinal bacteria and may only occur in one out of three people.
7. Tofu for preventing Breast Cancer
Eating soy foods during adolescence and pre-adolescence may help prevent breast cancer later in life, according to a review study published in the November 2012 â€œJournal of Adolescent Healthâ€. A retrospective study of soy consumption in 15,600 Japanese women found that those who consumed moderate to high levels of soy foods had lower rates of breast cancer after menopause; however, soy consumption didnâ€™t affect cancer rates in pre-menopausal women. Tofu might increase malignancy of existing breast cancer in some women, according to a study published in the December 2012 â€œJournal of Biological Chemistryâ€. In the tissue culture study, equol promoted growth and reproduction of human breast cancer cells. These preliminary results indicate that women whose digestive systems are capable of converting the isoflavone daidzein to equol might need to avoid tofu and other soy products if they develop breast cancer.