|Tofu is bean curd, made by adding a mineral salt (usually, calcium sulfate) and water to a soybean mash. 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, it's the main way that soy foods are eaten in China, Japan and Korea.
Studies indicate that regular tofu consumption is associated with:
* reduced risk of heart disease
* lower levels of cholesterol
* improved bone density and reduced risk of fractures
* decrease in the incidence of breast cancer and lung cancer
In The Fat Resistance Diet, high protein foods tend to suppress appetite better than foods with less protein, but a study in healthy humans found that tofu produced greater satiety
than animal protein. The effect lasted for several hours and was not associated with a rebound increase in appetite when it ended.
The special health benefits of tofu have been attributed to two major components: isoflavones and amino acids. Isoflavones are a special group of bioflavonoids found more highly concentrated in soy than in any other food. They are:
* Potent antioxidants, like most other bioflavonoids. Antioxidants protect the cells in your body from damage to DNA and cell membranes. Regular consumption of tofu protects your blood vessels from the damaging effects of cholesterol by slowing the rate at which LDL-cholesterol is oxidized.
* Anti-inflammatory. Inflammation in the walls of blood vessels, caused by a chemical called "soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (sVCAM-1)", is a major cause of cardiovascular disease. Soy isoflavones specifically inhibit this type of inflammation.
* Anti-cancer. The isoflavones genistein and daidzein inhibit the growth of cancer cells. In Asia, higher consumption of tofu is associated with a decreased risk of lung cancer and breast cancer.
* Hormone modulators. Isoflavones have a structure somewhat similar to estrogen and modify the effects of estrogen in your body. It is believed that this hormone modulating effect accounts for the decreased risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis associated with
regular consumption of tofu.
Soy foods reduce levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood and can also reduce your blood pressure. Careful research has shown that the cholesterol-lowering effect of soy is due to the amino acid profile of soy protein. A unique fraction of soy protein
called "7S globulin" increases your liver's ability to remove dangerous LDL-cholesterol from your blood.
How often should you eat tofu? That depends upon your own individual health risks. If you have seriously elevated cholesterol or a strong family history of coronary heart disease, you night benefit from eating tofu every day, as part of The Fat Resistance Diet. If your main concern is prevention of cancer or general health, using tofu once or twice a week appears to produce optimum benefits.
These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug administration. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It should not be substituted for conventional therapy.
This article is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine or the provision of health care diagnosis or treatment, (iii) the creation of a physician--patient relationship, or (iv) an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any third party product or service by the sender or the sender's affiliates, agents, employees, or service providers. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your doctor promptly.