Other than black beans and lentils, tofu has to be one of the top plant-based sources vegans and vegetarians eat to get their daily fill of protein. With so many different kinds of tofu, which one offers the most protein and which is the best for weight loss? And most importantly, is tofu safe to eat?
What's the Connection With Soy Products and Breast Cancer?
NYC-based registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Rachel Stahl, MS, CDN, told POPSUGAR that although many women may be worried about eating soy products and their relation to breast cancer, "Based on the quality of evidence that exists today, no definitive conclusions can be drawn regarding negative effects of eating soy products in regards to breast cancer risk. Some studies even suggest that eating soy may have protective effects." In a review of several studies on soy intake and the risk of breast cancer incidence, it was found that higher soy intake actually reduced breast cancer risk in both pre- and postmenopausal Asian women.
"Instead of singling in on soy," Rachel said, "people should consider lifestyle factors that may raise breast cancer risk such as excess alcohol use, eating a diet high in trans and saturated fat, and physical inactivity."
How Much Soy Is Safe to Eat?
Rachel said moderation is key (as with everything!) and that "eating whole, unrefined soy products several times a week is fine." This could come in different forms such as tofu, miso, soy milk, edamame, and tempeh. Rachel added that consumption of whole soy should be part of a balanced diet, one that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, low- or nonfat dairy, and lean protein.
Are There Soy Products You Should Avoid?
Rachel also warns that not all soy products are the same. "It's important to limit highly processed forms of soy including soy protein concentrates or isolates, hydrolyzed or textured vegetable protein, hydrogenated soybean oil, and soy products like soy cheese and ice cream, as these often contain unhealthy additives." Make sure to read nutrition labels to understand exactly what you are eating.
Which Tofu Is the Best For Weight Loss?
Now that we know eating soy products like tofu a few times a week is safe and we know that eating enough protein is key to feeling satiated to help with weight loss and to build and maintain muscle, you want to choose the tofu that offers the most protein per serving. Rachel said that, generally, the firmer the tofu, the higher it is in protein. As you can see from the chart below, the superfirm wins over the silken.
|3 oz. (about 1/5 package)||Calories||Total Fat (g)||Carbs (g)||Fiber (g)||Protein (mg)||Calcium (%)||Iron (%)|
|Silken tofu (91 grams)||45||2||1||0||4||8||4|
|Firm tofu (85 grams)||70||3.5||2||>1||8||10||6|
|Extrafirm tofu (85 grams)||80||4||3||1||9||6||8|
|Superfirm tofu (85 grams)||100||5||3||2||11||20||8|
|Trader Joe's High-Protein Super Firm Tofu (91 grams)||140||8||3||0||15||4||15|
How Do I Eat Tofu?
Tofu is extremely versatile and can be used in a variety of ways. Make a tofu scramble instead of using eggs, or add crumbled tofu into chili or soup. Try baking tofu in the oven, or marinate cubes to add to salads. You can also add tofu to a food processor with basil, salt, and garlic powder to make the filling for vegan lasagna or stuffed shells.
Did you also know you can use tofu to make desserts like chocolate mousse and cheesecake? You can also blend tofu into a smoothie — it makes a supercreamy, milkshake-like texture. What a delicious way to get your fill of plant-based protein!
Here are some tofu recipes you can try:
- Roasted tofu, cauliflower, and broccoli one-pan meal
- Sweet potato, tofu, and avocado breakfast bowl
- Chocolate-mousse-filled strawberries
- Chocolate milkshake smoothie
- Maple-cumin tofu with farro
- Vegan lasagna