Tofu is a great meat-free source of protein, which could be a great addition to your diet.
It’s hugely popular in the vegan and vegetarian community, so we wanted to give you the lowdown
Tofu is a meat-free, dairy-free high protein food that is ideal for vegans and vegetarians.
Otherwise known as bean curd, it is a byproduct of food from soymilk curd and is usually pressed into white blocks when served. It can be soft, firm, or extra firm.
As with many soya foods, tofu is of Chinese origin.
Historically it's said that it was discovered by accident around 2000 years ago by a Chinese cook who accidentally curdled soy milk when adding nigari seaweed.
It wasn’t until the 1960s and an interest in healthy eating saw tofu introduced to Western nations.
Since then, there has been a lot of research has been carried out into the benefits that soya and tofu can have on your health.
Tofu is made from ground soybeans and water that are heated with minerals such as calcium or magnesium salt to formulate a gooey texture.
The remaining curds are then pressed into a block, which are then eaten or sold as tofu.
There is a number of different types of tofu are available, each type is dependant on how you are using it.
Regular tofu is pressed and has a spongy texture and comes in several varieties distinguished by how much water is pressed out.
There are four main types of fresh tofu, however many more are available.
Soft tofu has the least amount of water pressed out, while super-firm has a low moisture content and a dense texture.
One of the best things about tofu is that it's quite versatile. Some people eat it raw, which has quite a sour flavour.
However, the consistency of tofu makes it excellent at absorbing flavours, which is part of the attraction.
When prepared properly, tofu can be savoury, sweet, crunchy, or soft, so it can be used in various dishes.
Its mildly sweet and creamy texture makes it an excellent addition to desserts.
Tofu is very good for you, being low in fat and high in protein yet free from dairy, eggs, or any animal protein.
It contains all eight of the essential amino acids and is a good source of iron and calcium, plus magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, manganese, and phosphorous.
These nutrients are particularly important for people following a vegetarian or vegan diet, or pregnant women who may be running low in this nutrient.
Tofu is high in protein and contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. It also provides fats, carbs, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.
As it derives from soyabeans, tofu is meant to share many of the same nutritional qualities as soya
As it’s made entirely from soyabeans, tofu is a low calorie, nutrient-dense food.
However, that can be dependent on ingredients, so it's always worth checking the packaging when buying.
Soyabeans contain isoflavones, which are a natural plant compound and are associated with a range of benefits.
They have an estrogen-like effect and can help support your blood vessels.1
But the benefits of tofu don’t stop there. There’s are few potential benefits to adding tofu to your diet.
Research suggests that a daily dose of 80 mg of soy isoflavones may reduce bone loss.2
Soy isoflavones may have a positive effect on nonverbal brain functionality, particularly in women over 65.3
Isoflavones in tofu can also keep your skin healthy. It could have a positive effect on the amount of moisture your skin produces and lessen the amount of oil.4
When eaten as part of a healthy, balanced diet, tofu can be a great addition due to its high protein content.5
You’ll find tofu in a wide range of East Asian and Southeast Asian dishes, where it is used as a versatile and adaptable source of vegetarian protein which takes on the flavours of other ingredients.
As with most protein sources, it is low in sugar and also low in fibre.
So, combine it with vegetables, leafy greens, pulses, beans, or rice for a complete nutritional profile.
This recipe uses tofu in place of eggs for a nutritious, low fat, high protein meal you can enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or a light supper.
Heat the oil in a heavy pan and saute the vegetables until soft
Add the crumbled tofu and cook until slightly brown
Add the spices towards the end of cooking
Add the spinach leaves and remove from the heat, allowing the spinach to wilt
Serve on toast, on a bagel or with a side of avocado
For a quick and easy weekday dinner, try Mr Organic Tofu Pasta sauce which is packed with vegetables and healthy protein.
For more healthy recipes, make sure you check out our Health Hub.
Last updated: 25 August 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.