Tofu | Bean Curd: Contributes To Overall Health And Wellbeing
Tofu is a food prepared by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into solid white blocks of varying softness. The making of tofu from soy milk is similar to the technique of making cheese from milk but complicated as the process depends on complex interactions. It can be silken, soft, firm, or extra firm. There are many varieties of tofu and also has a subtle flavor, so it can be used in savory and sweet dishes. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish and its flavors, and absorbs flavors well. It is sometimes treated as a meat substitute.
Tofu is also known as bean curd and has been used in the United States since at least 1840. It is rarely used outside of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and USA. As a traditional component of East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines, tofu has been consumed in China for over 2,000 years. A wide variety of types and flavors of tofu is available in both Western and Eastern markets. Despite the range of options, tofu products can be split into two main categories: 'fresh tofu', which is produced directly from soy milk, and 'processed tofu', which is produced from fresh tofu.
Tofu production also creates important by-products that are used in various cuisines. Nutritionally, it is low in calories, while containing a relatively large amount of protein. It is high in iron, and can have a high calcium or magnesium content depending on the coagulants (e.g. calcium chloride, calcium sulfate, magnesium sulfate) used in manufacturing. Tofu is relatively high in protein, about 10.7% for firm tofu and 5.3% for soft "silken" tofu, with about 5% and 2% fat, respectively, as a percentage of weight.
A diet that contains a variety of plant-based foods appears to contribute to overall health and wellbeing, and a lower risk of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It can enhance the skin and hair, boost energy, and help maintain a healthy weight. Research has linked tofu, with its high levels of isoflavones, to a lower risk of several age- and lifestyle-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, breast and prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, kidney function, osteoporosis, symptoms of menopause, liver damage and age-related brain diseases.