Over the course of the school year, our Registered Dietitians get some deep questions regarding nutrition and food from students like you. We’ve noticed a trend in what people are interested in knowing more about, so we thought we’d post our answers for everyone to enjoy. A student submitted the following question through our Ask-A-Dietitian platform. Read below for our answer!

One student asks…

Dear Dietitian,

Lately, all I have been eating is tofu. Today, I read that high tofu consumption can become unhealthy when it is not cooked properly. I am concerned that that may make me gain unnecessary weight. Is that true about tofu? How healthy is a diet of tofu and lots of vegetables?

Thank you for your question!

Tofu definitely has its place in a healthy, balanced diet. Tofu is a good source of high quality protein. This is because it has all of the essential amino acids that you also find in meat, milk and eggs, making tofu a great meat alternative. It also contains other nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Tofu is made from soybeans, which is a good source of isoflavones. Research shows that isoflavones may have a positive impact on heart health. All in all, tofu is a healthy addition to your diet.

Protein 

You mention that you eat a lot of tofu. The exact amount of tofu that is safe for consumption requires more research; however, two to three servings of tofu per day appears to be safe. One serving of tofu is 175 ml, 150g or ¾ cup. However, you mention that lately all you have been eating is tofu. Remember that it is still important to eat a variety of foods to have a balanced diet. You say that you eat a lot of tofu and vegetables, which are a healthy choice. However, consider trying out protein sources other than tofu for more variety. Some examples include:

  • ¾ cup cooked beans, peas or lentils
  • ¼ cup nuts or seeds
  • ½ cup cooked fish or poultry
  • 2 boiled eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of nut butters like peanut, almond or soy butter

Food Safety First!

It is unlikely that tofu will hurt you if it is not cooked. However, cooked tofu may be better for protein digestion and absorbing minerals than raw tofu. Cooking tofu also helps to reduce the risk of consuming harmful bacteria. To be on the safe side, it’s better to boil uncooked tofu for five minutes before eating it. Keep tofu in the refrigerator and use it by the best before date. If you buy tofu in a tub or tin, pour out the water every day, and replace it with cold water to keep the tofu fresh. It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple more days. If you notice any sour smell or taste, or if the liquid in the container is cloudy, this is a sign that the tofu has spoiled.

What About Weight? 

In regards to your concern about weight gain, if you are eating tofu no more than two to three times per day, it is unlikely that tofu will cause you to gain weight. A serving of soft or silken tofu contains about 85 calories. A serving of firm or extra firm tofu contains about 100 calories. This is fewer calories than a similar portion of meat such as chicken or beef. However, it is important to consider how you are cooking tofu. Baking tofu, boiling tofu, or stir-frying tofu in small amounts of oil are good ways to cook it without adding many calories. However, deep-frying tofu in a lot of oil can add calories and fat. To sum everything up for you, you are making a healthy choice by consuming tofu, but don’t forget to choose a variety of foods for the most nutrients!

Sources consulted:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5188409/

https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Soy/Health-Benefits-of-Soy.aspx

https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Vegetarian-and-Vegan-Diets/The-Scoop-on-Soy.aspx

https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Cooking-Food-Preparation/Everything-You-Need-to-Know-About-Tofu!.aspx

Monday, October 1, 2018 in ,
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