What Is Tofu and Why Is It Considered to Be Healthy?
Tofu is a food component in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines. Tofu can be soft, firm, or extra firm. Tofu has a subtle flavor and can be used in savory and sweet dishes. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish. Tofu has a low calorie count and relatively large amounts of protein. It is high in iron, and it can have a high calcium or magnesium content, depending on the coagulants used in manufacturing (e.g. calcium chloride, calcium sulfate, magnesium sulfate).
Historians believe tofu was invented about 2,000 years ago in China. Over time, tofu’s popularity grew and it spread to other areas of Asia, such as Japan and Korea. Since tofu is high in protein and low in calories and fat, it’s often used as a meat substitute, which is why it’s especially popular among vegetarians and vegans. In Asia, though, it’s a popular ingredient that’s a part of a wide variety of dishes.
So what exactly is tofu? Since many people associate tofu with vegetarians and vegans, they often think it’s a vegetable, but it’s not. Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made from soybeans. To make tofu, soybeans are dried and then ground up with water to turn them into milk.
The milk is then curdled with coagulants, such as enzymes, salts, or acids. Finally, the liquid, known as whey, is drained and the curds are pressed into small blocks. The process is similar to how cheese is made from curdling and solidifying milk.
By itself, tofu may taste a bit bland and chewy. However, tofu fans will tell you that one of its great qualities is that it’s a bit like a sponge, soaking up and taking on the flavors of the other foods it’s cooked with. Tofu is also considered to be a very healthy food that’s packed with nutrients. For example, tofu contains a wide variety of important vitamins and minerals, including manganese, calcium, selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Some experts also believe tofu can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Due to its high concentration of isoflavones, tofu might also improve brain function and bone health.