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Tofu, also known as bean curd, is food made from coagulated soy milk. Soy milk is obtained by soaking, grinding, boiling and straining dried soybeans. Pre-made soy milk can be used in the process of preparation, but most of the producers make their own milk. The milk is first coagulated and then pressed to form curds of soft white blocks. Tofu originates from China, but it is a common food product in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisinessuch as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese and others. The first recipe for tofu is discovered 2000 years ago in China, but this Asian food is nowadays available all over the world and in almost every local supermarket throughout the year.

Nutritional information on tofu

Tofu is most popular because of its high protein content. The nutritional information depends on the type, but on average there is about 10.7% of protein in firm tofu and 5.3% in soft "silken" tofu. One serving size of firm tofu has approximately 126 grams and about 88 calories. A large amount of calories in this food comes from the fat – as much as 47. Total fat counts for 8% of the whole serving and satisfies somewhere around 8% of daily recommendation for fats. This food is very rich in calcium, providing 25% of recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this mineral. In addition, tofu is a good source of selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus, copper, iron and magnesium.

Health benefits of tofu

Tofu is rich in soy protein that has a significant impact on lowering total cholesterol levels, lowering triglyceride levels, reducing the tendency of platelets to form blood clots and possibly even raising levels of good cholesterol. Soy foods are also helpful in lessening the symptoms of menopause. Components in soymilk can dock at estrogen receptors and act like very weak estrogens. These compounds can help to maintain hormonal balance and block the estrogen when the levels are too high. The same way, they can fill in for estrogen when the levels are low.

Tofu is rich in iron and provides 34% of the RDA for this important mineral, in just one serving. Iron is important for hemoglobin synthesis and supply of the living tissues with oxygen. A serving of tofu provides 11% of the RDA for copper. This is another important mineral involved in hemoglobin synthesis.

The portion of tofu will provide 14.4% of the RDA for selenium, an antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory mineral, able to reduce the levels of damaging free radicals in the body and prevent many serious diseases.

Tofu is made from soybeans, and a large percentage of the commercially grown soy comes from the genetically modified seeds. To get the maximum health benefits from tofu, one should always choose organic products. In many cases, these foods are labeled as “GMO-free” or “Organic”.

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