What is tofu and it’s amazing health benefits for women. Tofu is an excellent plant based source of protein but exactly how can it benefit women’s health, in particular menopausal women and women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), for example. What is tofu, how much tofu do you need to eat and what ways can you eat it? Here are some suggestions.

Table of contents

What is tofu?

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a plant based protein made from dried soy beans that are soaked in water, crushed and then boiled. The mixture is then separated into solid pulp and soy “milk” similar to how cheese is made.

Tofu is available in an extra soft silken form, similar to cream or yoghurt or a more firm block. You can purchase firm tofu in many different levels of firmness depending on how much liquid has been pressed out of it.

It is also available in a dried form which doesn’t require refrigeration.

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a problem with hormones that affects women during their childbearing years (ages 15 to 44). Between 2.2 and 26.7 percent of women in this age group have PCOS.

Via Healthline

One of the best ways to treat PCOS includes changes to your diet, exercise and weight loss. Weight loss of just 5 to 10% of your overall body weight can help improve your systems. Because of the nutrient rich benefits of tofu, it is an excellent protein substitute while also being low in calories and has many other health benefits including assisting with improving the symptoms of PCOS.

What are the health benefits of tofu?

Tofu is a plant based protein used in many Asian cuisines and is a suitable alternative protein replacement for a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Vegetarian buddha bowl with tofu

Besides being high in protein and containing all of the essential amino acids your body needs, it also contains good fats, carbohydrates and fiber plus a wide range of essential minerals.

Some of the minerals contained in tofu include manganese, calcium, selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, iron and zinc. All beneficial to treat the symptoms relating to PCOS.

Tofu has the following health benefits.

Contains isoflavones for fertility & PCOS

According to a study by Science Daily of women who have PCOS, isoflavones have been known to improve their metabolic and cardiovascular health by consuming soy isoflavones which are found in tofu.

Isoflavones are a class of phytoestrogens, plant-derived compounds with estrogenic activity. Soybeans and soy products are the richest sources of isoflavones in the human diet. 

Via Oregon State University

Some research has indicated that regular intake of small amounts of soy can actually improve female fertility and metabolic aspects of PCOS. Isoflavones have also been shown to positively influence the menstrual cycle and blood estrogen levels.

Reduced risk of heart disease

Tofu may decrease the risk of heart disease as it has been found that the isoflavones found in soy can reduce blood vessel inflammation and improve elasticity.

Having 50 grams of soy protein per day can improve blood fats and lower the risk of heart disease by an estimated 10%.

In postmenopausal women, high soy isoflavone intake can be linked to heart protective measures, including improvements to body mass index, waist circumference, fasting insulin, and “good” HDL cholesterol.

Relieves menopausal symptoms

Eating tofu can relieve symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, prevention of breast cancer, reduction in bone turnover and reducing the risk for osteoporosis, and prevention of heart disease.

In 1998, the FDA issued a food claim stating that “diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.” 

Reduced risk of some cancers

Research indicates that women who eat soy products at least once a week have a 48–56% lower risk of breast cancer.

Reduced risk of Diabetes

The isoflavones found in soy products like tofu may boost blood sugar control. In one study of healthy postmenopausal women, 100 mg of soy isoflavones per day reduced blood sugar levels by 15% and insulin levels by 23%.

Other health benefits

Eating tofu has been known to increase other health benefits such as bone health, brain function, skin elasticity and weight loss.

How much do you need to eat?

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that 25 grams of soy protein per day will reduce blood cholesterol levels by about 12 percent.

There are a variety of different types of soy protein, and in particular, tofu available which can be used to substitute meal in nearly all recipes. Unprocessed soy products like tofu, natto, tempeh, miso, soy sauce, edamame and soy nuts will provide the health benefits mentioned above.

Don’t be confused with processed soy products as they offer no health benefits. Always check the labels on all soy products you buy.

About 3 ounces of water packed firm tofu will yield approximately 6 to 13 grams of soy protein or 3 ounces of silken tofu will yield around 6 grams soy protein. Including tofu in a couple meals per day will provide a daily allowance of 25 grams of the recommended amount of protein.

How do I eat tofu?

Tofu is quite flavorless so you can use it in any dish and will take on the flavor of the dish. The texture of the firm variety can be quite rubbery but when you consider the health benefits and the addition of other accompaniments to the dish you’re cooking plus the flavors you use, you will learn to really enjoy eating it.

You can treat the firm tofu the same way you would any kind of meat. It will also absorb the flavors of spices, rubs, marinades and sauces to enhance the flavor. The softer silken variety is better used for blending into sauces, creams, smoothies, baking, mayo and dressings, or in soup like you would cream or yoghurt.

Check out this selection of recipes for eating both the firm variety and soft variety of tofu.

Conclusion

Tofu is an excellent source of plant based protein that has been known to have many benefits to women’s health including PCOS. Including just 3 ounces of tofu per day to your diet will count towards a quarter of the estimated amount of soy protein required to reduce blood cholesterol levels by 12% as determined by the FDA.

There are many ways to eat it including substituting the firmer tofu in meals you would normally eat meat or substituting silken tofu in recipes that call for cream or yoghurt. You really should give tofu a try for better health.

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