We have some great recipes on our website that contain tofu. But everything in moderation. Why? You might wonder.
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Is Tofu healthy or unhealthy?
There are not many people out there who don’t know what tofu is. But did you know that tofu is made from soy beans? And soy bean is a vegetable. Which makes tofu a great meat substitute for vegetarians an vegans. Soy bean products are available in various forms. The form you find in the store, is depended on how the soy bean is processed. There are fermented and unfermented soy bean products.
Let’s talk you through what that means!
Fermented Soy Bean Products
- Tamari and Soy sauce (contain gluten. Gluten free is available.)
In fermentation, food is converted by bacteria, yeasts or fungi. This means that the food is ‘pre-digested’, as it were, and therefore it is better absorbed. Fermented soy bean products helps regroup the ‘friendly’ bacteria in the colon that neutralize the ‘unfriendly’ bacteria and ensures a better general intake of food and nutrients.
Unfermented Soy Bean Products
- Soy milk
- Protein shakes / powder
- Meat substitutes
In contrast to the fermented products, these products contain a lot of anti-nutrients. Especially the dust phytic acid. This substance binds a lot of minerals and trace elements, which makes it no longer absorbable to our body. Highly heated soy bean products (like in powders / shakes) contain a lot of aluminum and can cause early dementia. It is also challenging on the environment.
Soy Bean Products and our Earth
More than 90% of all soy beans that are grown, are intended for the animal feed industry. In the meantime, we are growing around 170 million hectares of crops. And we produce around 200 million tons of soy bean products per year! Did you know that it takes five times less vegetable material to produce meat substitutes than it takes to produce meat? Moreover, meat substitutes that are produced from soy beans are more sustainable than regular cattle feed soy.
Possible Health Benefits
Some research suggests that including soy bean products in a diet could bring a range of potential health benefits, including heart health and reduction of obesity
Researchers conducted an analysis of studies to look at the effect of soy bean products on cholesterol levels. They found that consuming soy bean products significantly reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is also known as “bad cholesterol”, because of its link to fatty build-ups in the arteries
Soy bean product intake also significantly increased HDL cholesterol. This type is also known as “good cholesterol”, because it helps remove bad cholesterol from the arteries.
People with high cholesterol levels had more significant decreases in their LDL cholesterol than people with healthy cholesterol levels. Less-processed soy bean products, such as soy milk, soy beans, and soy nuts, were more effective than soy protein extracts or supplements.
Reduction of Obesity
Soy isoflavones are naturally occurring compounds that have similar properties to estrogen. Estrogen levels naturally decline as women age, which increases their risk for certain health conditions.
The researchers concluded that overall, soy isoflavone supplementation resulted in a significant decrease in body weight.
Caution: Soy bean products contains Phytoestrogens
Even though it seems a healthy option in a vegetarian and vegan diet. Soy bean products contains phytoestrogens, which may disrupt the hormonal balance in both men and women with all it’s effects.
Phytoestrogens are a group of substances that produce plants and which, like the female hormone, have estrogen affinity for the estrogen receptor. If men get too much of this, they get too many ‘female hormones’. This negatively effects the prostate. But too much is not good for women either. As a result, the hormones will get out of balance and that can cause other health problems.
When you buy your soy bean products, make sure it’s organic! Non-organic soy bean products are almost guaranteed to be genetically-modified and sprayed with tons of toxic chemicals.
Make up your Own Mind!
I can not tell you what to do, except to use your own common sense, do your research and make up your own mind.
And in the end, of course, the rule applies, always eat something in moderation. Do not eat too many meat substitutes made from soy bean products. If you like a meat substitute, there are many tasty vegan burgers available made from quinoa, oats and vegetables. If you are concerned that you are not getting enough protein you can always add beans, lentils and green leafy vegetables. The choice has also grown in plant-based milk varieties, like cashew milk, almond milk, oats milk, coconut milk and rice milk.
If you want to think more green, more sustainable and be environmentally conscious, there are lots of options there too. You can choose organic & whole food products, which we do here, to choose to make everything from scratch and to choose for products with less sugars!