The Truth About Tofu

Staff Writer
The Truth About Tofu

Tofu is widely regarded as a healthy, low-fat protein, and as a core component of Asian cooking for 2,000 years, it seems like a time-tested item. But is tofu bad for you? Well... that depends. While the majority of tofu-related research is positive, there are some risks for certain people when it comes to soy consumption.

True or False: Tofu can make certain health conditions worse.
True (for certain people). Tofu is made from soybeans, which also contain moderate amounts of a natural substance called purine. According to the National Institutes of Health, if you have gout, consuming large amounts of purines can make this condition worse, so you should minimize your intake of soy products. There are some common mild side effects associated with eating tofu and other soy products; these include stomach aches, constipation, and diarrhea.

True or False: Tofu consumption is linked to breast cancer.
True... but it’s not what you might think. A study of breast cancer survivors found that those who consumed more tofu and other soy products had a lower risk of dying or having a recurrence of cancer.

True or False: Tofu is an unhealthy protein.
False. The fat content of tofu ranges by variety, with extra firm usually having the highest amount of fat per serving, but there are also light versions available with as little as one and a half grams of fat per serving. And, with nine grams per serving, tofu is a protein powerhouse. Plus it’s a good source of calcium, iron, and vitamin B. Even fried tofu isn't so bad — a one-ounce serving has 77 calories and less than six grams of fat.

True or False: Tofu consumption can speed mental deterioration and aging.
Maybe. A decades-old study of middle-aged Japanese-American men linked midlife tofu consumption to cognitive impairment and brain atrophy later in life. However, several other studies have shown that tofu consumption is beneficial to cognitive function.