Not many foods can boast a personal recommendation from one of America’s Founding Fathers. But tofu can…
See, tofu was first developed in China over 2,000 years ago, but it didn’t make it to American shores until much later. And it appears one Benjamin Franklin played a hand in introducing tofu.
Franklin sent a gift of mysterious produce from London, England, to his good friend John Bartram in January 1770. Franklin also sent a letter describing the Chinese beans (soybeans) he’d sent and basic instructions on how to turn them into a type of cheese he called Tau-fu!
He may not have known it at the time, but Franklin was doing Bartram more of a favor than he thought. Tofu provides a large amount of protein and iron! What’s more, there’s a surprising amount of calcium in tofu– that’s why tofu appears on our list of “Top Calcium-Rich Foods.”
Keep reading to discover exactly how much calcium is in tofu, a list of powerful health benefits, and some recipe ideas that will shake your preconception of tofu being boring!
Nutritional Information For Tofu
Tofu is made by cooking soybeans down to a liquid before adding nigari (a brine containing magnesium chloride, which is a by-product of extracting salt from seawater). The nigari acts as a coagulant and produces curds that are then pressed into blocks of tofu. A very similar process to making cheese!
That’s not where the similarities end between cheese and tofu either… they both provide a large amount of calcium.
So how much calcium is in tofu?
Well, it varies. See, traditional tofu contains 176 mg per 100 g. But some manufacturers add calcium to their tofu. This is commonly known as calcium-set tofu and can contain as much as 350 mg of calcium.
But perhaps the most astonishing fact about tofu is that it’s a complete protein. That means tofu provides all the essential amino acids your body can’t make by itself… a rare attribute for a plant-based protein! This makes tofu a particularly beneficial protein for people who follow a vegetarian diet.
What’s more, tofu provides a high amount of protein without high levels of fat and cholesterol like in many animal-based protein sources. Win-win!
Check out the table below for more nutritional information about tofu.
|Amount per 100 g
Tofu has a bit of a reputation for being bland and well… boring. Tofu doesn’t exactly have a strong, delicious flavor after all. But on the other hand, tofu’s bland nature is actually one of its greatest attributes.
Think of tofu as the chameleon of food. Because it’s rather bland, it’s able to take on the flavors of other ingredients. That means you can add tofu– and its abundance of nutrients– to a whole host of dishes!
And there’s more! Did you know there are several types of tofu? The main two are:
1. Silken Tofu – Silken tofu retains a lot more water than regular tofu when it’s made. For this reason, silken tofu is far more delicate and has a smooth, silky appearance.
How to use silken tofu:
Because of its creamy texture, silken tofu is an ideal dairy-free alternative base for sauces, salad dressings, smoothies, and even desserts!
Try using silken tofu in the base of your next cheesecake instead of milk, butter and eggs!
2. Regular Tofu – Regular tofu is the more traditional type of tofu. It’s often available in soft, firm, or extra firm varieties.
How to use regular tofu:
- Soft tofu is similar to silken tofu and is often used in a similar way.
- Firm tofu holds its form well and is perfect for a stir fry or miso soup. You can also use firm tofu to crumble over salads (a bit like ricotta cheese.)
- Extra firm tofu is the densest of all tofu types. This makes it a good choice if you want to use whole slices of tofu in a dish. Bear in mind though, the denser the tofu, the harder it is for it to take on the flavors of other ingredients.
Tofu Interactions and Precautions
For all its impressive nutrient content and potential uses, there is one thing to bear in mind with tofu.
As we’ve mentioned, tofu is made from soybeans. Now, soybeans are the most genetically modified crop in the world. In fact, 94% of soy acreage in the United States is genetically modified! And, as you may know, genetically modified organisms (GMO) are linked with potential health and environmental issues.
So when you’re buying tofu, we always advise you look for a product that’s organic— because organic means it’s also non-GMO!
Other Calcium-Rich Foods
Broccoli didn’t get the nickname, “The Crown Jewel of Nutrition” for nothing! It provides a healthy amount of calcium and delivers in the vitamin department too. Plus, broccoli provides a wealth of health benefits to boot. Mr. Bush has been missing out all along…
If you’d like to see more calcium-rich foods, click here to find some of the best on the planet.
Or if you want to discover more about one particular food, here are some of the most popular calcium-rich foods explained: