Tofu Nutrition Facts
Tofu, also called bean curd, is an Asian food made from soybeans. For years, tofu was considered a healthy food in the United States. Proponents of tofu (and soy in general) said that it was a low-fat, low-cholesterol, high-protein, high-calcium alternative to meat. And that’s true. But does that make it good for you?
Should You Care?
First, let me suggest a reason why you should care about this, even if you’ve never eaten a tofu burger in your life and never plan to. You should care because tofu and soy are ubiquitous in the American diet. They add soy to everything. Most processed foods that you buy at the grocery store probably have some soy in them, including a quarter of all infant formulas. Apparently, schools are even adding it to their burgers!
The Reason Why…
The reason for this is because the FDA is advocating soy as a heart-healthy alternative to red meat. But this is based on faulty logic, in my view. For one thing, I am not a believer in the lipid hypothesis. If you don’t know what that is, it’s the vilification of fat and cholesterol as the causes of heart disease. Some research will reveal that this idea is based on some faulty data, including the infamous “six countries study,” which misrepresented the health effects of fat intake. Suffice it to say that you can’t necessarily trust a large government agency to make your nutrition choices for you. I’m not saying they’re evil or anything like that, but keep in mind the reality of the situation. There are billions of dollars to be made in the food industry, and agencies like the FDA and the AHA are subject to a whole lot of lobbyists. Don’t write them off completely, but educate yourself so that you can be responsible for making your own choices.
With that in mind, let’s delve deeper into the details. One serving of tofu will net you about 90 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 10 grams of protein. It’s a decent source of the following minerals: iron, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, selenium, calcium, and manganese. Its omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is 200 mg to 2,000 mg (this is an unhealthy, inflammatory ratio; most modern diets are far too high in omega-6s and far too low in omega-3s).
But There’s More…
If we look a little deeper, though, we’ll find that soy has compounds called isoflavones. These are plant compounds that mimic human estrogen. Yeah, you read that right: eating tofu is like eating estrogen. It’s been linked to lowered testosterone, which is a hormone that encourages muscle and fat burning. These compounds have also been linked to reduced fertility in women, premature puberty, and abnormal development in fetus and children.
Does that sound like something you want your baby drinking?
Now, the verdict is still out on a lot of these theories. Many people still say that moderate consumption of soy is fine. But as far as I’m concerned, simply reducing how much of an unhealthy food you eat is no substitute for eating healthier foods. My recommendation is to avoid tofu and all soy products. There are healthier and more natural alternatives, like organic meat products (you can find extremely lean varieties if you don’t want the fat). I just feel that eating soy is taking a chance, especially if it’s a child. And it seems like a silly chance to take.