Is Tofu Keto friendly? What’s nobody is talking about?
Is that the question on your mind today? Well, I am here to answer just that, but first, let us take a closer look at Tofu.
What is Tofu?
This very intriguing product is consumed in various parts of the world and loved by many vegans and Keto Dieters, but what is it?
Tofu is made up of dried Soybeans and is considered a vegetarian or keto diet which is substituted for meat.
This is not so however in Asia, as it is regarded as an independent food with a centuries-old tradition, making up an integral part of the cuisine from Japan to Indonesia.
As interesting as it sounds, it is rather neutral in taste. A Chinese native would beg to differ though on this description, as in China it is described as ‘the Tofu of thousands of tastes’ and has been a soy quark since antiquity.
No wonder this white, slippery delicacy got its name from the Chinese – ‘to’ meaning bean and ‘fu’ meaning clotting.
How is Tofu made?
The soybean from which Tofu is made is a legume that is cultivated in China for 5000 years. Considering it is a bean, it is very rich in protein – up to 50%.
The soybean is grown worldwide and mostly used to extract soya oil, which is an important ingredient in the food industry, especially used as roast oil, among other things.
Tofu is then produced by a biochemical process called denaturing. This occurs when a structural change takes place in the protein found in the soymilk.
The soymilk is extracted from the soybean, which is then fermented into cheese.
The process is likened to the production of cheese from cow’s milk, as the same method applies; and since this process is reminiscent of cheese production, it is commonly known as bean cheese.
Now let’s get to the process how it looks like:
The soybeans are boiled, pureed and then strained through a fine cloth. The protein is separated from the liquid component by scooping, heating or pressing.
It is then pressed together and finally, the clotting agents, namely; citric acid, magnesium chloride or calcium sulfate (“gypsum”) are washed off again.
After this final process, the Tofu is ready for consumption, after the quark is pressed into blocks.
The soymilk is also ready for human consumption after heating or boiling. This process destroys the toxic ingredients known as trypsin inhibitors.
The Soymilk being offered in supermarkets is no contender to this delicious and nutritious homemade soymilk, especially when it is lightly sweetened with sugar, though it is referred to as not being ‘real milk’, as this term is reserved only for cow’s milk.
You can find some very good soymilk preparation devices in the trade, which include cooking and pureeing at the same time. They can also be made with a pot, a purée stick and a gauze cloth.
Is Tofu Keto-friendly?
Now that we have established its origin and the process of its creation, we will then seek to answer your question. Is Tofu Keto-friendly? The health benefits to gain from Tofu most definitely prove that is it.
How many Vitamins and Carbs in Tofu?
Tofu consists of soybeans, just like tempeh (fermented, boiled soybean mass), soy paste, soy sauce, miso, soymilk and soy yogurt.
The legumes contain vitamin B, polyunsaturated fatty acids, fiber, calcium, folic acid, magnesium, iron, zinc and eight vital amino acids.
It also has biologically high-quality protein, no gram of cholesterol and only 72 calories per 100 grams.
Naturally, being so rich in nutrients, this staple is a favorite for vegetarians and vegans, as it meets their protein needs, which has between 12 to 14% and is an important building block for health, therefore it is highly recommended.
The protein in Tofu can be converted into the body’s protein, which is especially important for Keto Diet, as they must resort to non-animal protein sources.
With around 120 kilocalories per 100 grams, the keto-friendly Tofu is an excellent choice for weight loss.
In addition to B and E vitamins, Tofu also contains so-called phytoestrogens, which are structurally similar to human estrogen. Thus, the “Tofu-estrogen” can intervene in the hormone balance.
What sounds scary at first, according to research could have a preventive effect.
The risk of developing breast, ovarian and uterine cancers could be reduced by Tofu consumption, as the plant-based estrogen has a much weaker effect than human estrogen, suppressing the cell-growing activity of the body’s estrogen.
But it’s not that simple.
What are the Negative Effects of consuming too much Tofu?
The lower cancer rates in Asia cannot be attributed to the higher consumption of soya, as traditionally fermented products such as tempeh, miso or soy sauce are also consumed in Asia.
Fermentation significantly reduces the phytoestrogen content. The hook-on soy products are the so-called phytoestrogens or the isoflavones contained therein.
These are herbal ingredients that are similar to the female sex hormone estrogen and also have a similar effect on the body, which can be positive as well as negative.
For example, they alleviate menopause complaints. However, they also reduce the sperm count in men, affect thyroid function and are intended to promote the growth of cancer cells, especially breast cancer.
This is at least claimed by several studies with animal experiments. It is not yet clear whether this is relevant to humans.
How do Isoflavones activate processes in the Human Body?
As mentioned previously, Isoflavones are similar in structure to human estrogen hormones, as they can bind to the same receptors in the body.
This can lead to processes that are otherwise activated by estrogens in body regions where these receptors are pronounced. For example, breast growth.
However, isoflavones are only similar to estrogens and are not identical to them, as their binding to the receptor is significantly weaker.
In addition, the phytohormones can have a blocking effect in addition to an activating one. In this case, they will inhibit the effect on the body’s estrogen.
The success of the isoflavones depends on the receptor type as well as on the number of receptors in the respective tissues and the concentration of the body’s estrogen.
It is therefore recommended that women should not consume excessive soy products. Girls under the age of 12 are even discouraged from eating soy products as the high content of phytic acid in Tofu can be critical.
Studies indicate that phytates inhibit the uptake of essential nutrients such as iron and zinc.
The simultaneous consumption of animal foods reduces the phytate effect and this is the reason Asians have always eaten Tofu with meat or fish soup.
What is the recommended consumption of Tofu?
The Cancer Information Service recommends that patients consume a maximum of two portions of soya per day; that is 85 grams of Tofu, plus one-quarter of a liter of soymilk.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has evaluated more than 50 independent studies on the issue and recommends that healthy people eat no more than 25 g of soy protein per day.
This corresponds to approximately 300 g of Tofu or 800 ml of soymilk.
For adults, it is recommended not to take more than 1 mg per kilogram of body weight per day on isoflavones. For example, a woman who weighs 60 kilos would not take more than 60 mg per day.
For comparison, Tofu contains between 150-500 mg of isoflavones per kilogram, depending on the type of production. One soy drink contains between 80-350 mg per kilogram.
Due to the many contradictory studies, there is no clear statement about the maximum daily amount from which negative effects can occur.
After research in rats, the authors of a 2006 study calculate a maximum value of 50 mg per kilogram of body weight per day for adults.
Adults who remain below this amount of isoflavones do not have statistically negative effects. For a woman of 60 kilos, it would be a maximum of 3000 mg isoflavone per day.
What are the different types of Tofu?
The most famous Tofu varieties depend on the liquid content, as a distinction is made between the different types of Tofu. Each has different types of preparation or dishes. These are:
- Silk Tofu: These are smooth, supple and for many still an insider tip. The creamy Tofu is especially suitable for the preparation of desserts, sauces and dips.
- Asian Tofu: Its continuum is firm. Although it is drained, it has high moisture content. It is particularly suitable for frying, as it is comparable in strength to meat.
- Western Tofu: This Tofu has the lowest moisture content and is therefore also called dry Tofu. It has the consistency of cooked meat when cutting it crumbles slightly.
- “Stinking Tofu”: This fermented form of soy cheese is mainly served in special restaurants and street food in China. The special marinade makes the Tofu a traditional and popular dish.
Can I give my baby soy products?
Some mothers breastfeed their babies with soy substitute milk for fear of lactose intolerance or milk allergies.
However, this is not recommended, by both Scientists and Adolescent Doctors. US researchers have observed changes in the development of the uterus and vaginal tissue in female babies fed with soy products.
Young boys show a change in breast bastion. It is not clear however whether these changes will continue as the children are older.
A study from January 2019 showed that women who were fed substitute milk from soy as a child were more likely to struggle with particularly painful periods in their teens.
However, this study is a retrospective survey. In adulthood, therefore, women were asked about their experiences in retrospect.
Due to this study structure, one cannot speak of a clear cause-and-effect relationship, because the influence of other factors on menstrual pain cannot be excluded.
Several animal studies have also shown that soy products and isoflavones can have effects on fertility. Experts advise, for precautionary reasons, to avoid soy products in babies as far as possible.
Tips to remember:
- Do not make soymilk or keto-friendly Tofu a regular part of your keto diet, but instead, add gluten-free tamari sauce and edamame beans to get more variety in your keto diet plan.
- Do not only look at the carbohydrate count in food but find out how these foods will affect your body, mind and health in the long term.
- The intake of isoflavones in the context of a normal soya diet at normal intakes may be regarded as safe in the light of current scientific knowledge.
- Natural, industrially not heavily processed organic soya products should be consumed in moderation and are safe (unless there is an allergy or, for example, thyroid disease). They are not healthier than meat consumption from today’s mass animal husbandry.
- When buying a soya product, it is important to pay keen attention to the origin, the production process and above all, the quality. Soy products should be preferred in organic quality from the region. It is even better to grow soya yourself as you are guaranteed a 100% unprocessed food that can be integrated into a healthy diet. This is the solution to ensure that you increase your well-being and stay healthy for a lifetime.