The Science of Tofu


Tofu has taken the world by storm. It has been used in many different dishes, and new ways to cook it are always being explored. This cheese-like substance is a favorite for vegans and vegetarians and for a good reason. For many people, tofu is still unknown and untested food. Knowing the history and composition of this food can help explain why the tofu market is rapidly expanding.

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Where Did It Come From?

There are a few different theories around the origins and history of tofu. Tofu was first created in China about 2,000 years ago and was later introduced to Japan. It is also known as bean curd and is a loved traditional part of many dishes from East Asia and Southeast Asian. In the last 100 years, tofu has been introduced to the Western market. The growth and reception have been quite impressive.

How Is Tofu Made?

Tofu comes from soya beans. These are made into soy milk by grinding them in water and then filtering and boiling them. This milk is then coagulated or curdled by adding different types of substances. This step is the most crucial, and commonly use coagulants include salts and acids. The choice affects the texture and nature of the final product. After the coagulation process, the resulting curds can be pressed into the characteristic blocks that we know as tofu. The softness of these can be varied depending on what is required. The process shares many similarities with the cheesemaking process using dairy milk.

What is the Appeal and Nutritional Content of Tofu?

Tofu is a nutrient-rich and very versatile dish. It finds a place in both sweet and savory dishes and is being adapted into different types of cuisine. These days there are so many different tofu varieties, but they all have many similarities. There are also many by-products from the production of tofu.

In terms of nutritional content, tofu is very high in protein. As much as 10 percent of the firm varieties are protein. This is good news for those who do not eat meat. This high protein content is affected by the type of soya beans used in the production process. Tofu also contains all nine of the essential amino acids. About five percent of the weight of firm tofu is fat. Tofu is also mineral rich with a high content of calcium, iron, manganese, selenium and phosphorous as well as other minerals.

More and more being are looking to stay healthy. One of the best ways to do this is to watch what you eat. The vegan diet is gaining in appeal, and people are also looking at what kind of carbs, cholesterol, and fats they consume. Tofu is derived from soy protein, and this has been linked to helping lower levels of bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Another health benefit of tofu is the presence of phytoestrogens called isoflavones. These are similar in structure to the female hormone estrogen. Some studies are looking at their potential to lower the risk of breast cancer. Women can also benefit from this similarity by increasing their intake of soy products like tofu during menopause.

Getting Started

There are so many great benefits of taking tofu as an additional or supplemental source of protein. Because there are many different varieties these days, it’s important to get to know a bit more about these. The soft and firm types have different nutritional content because of the difference in concentration. They also stay fresh and keep for varying lengths of time. Tofu is high in oxalate, so it is recommended that those with a history of kidney stones limit their consumption of soy products.

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