Coach Ali Cody here!
If you want to lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease, improve the look of your skin, lower your blood pressure, or strengthen your bones; then you may want to learn to love tofu too! I have been eating plant based food for about 6 years, yet I have snubbed my nose at tofu time and time again. Why? Because I just didn’t like the texture. Can you relate?
Recently, I have discovered ALL of the incredible health benefits of soy and why we should have 3 servings a day and I knew I had to become friends with tofu. Fortunately the texture issue is easy to resolve, but let’s go through the “why” and then we’ll get to the “how”.
What is tofu and why is it so healthy? According to Healthline.com, “Tofu is a food made of condensed soy milk that is pressed into solid white blocks in a process quite similar to cheese making.” The health benefits of soy run deep and part of the reason is that it is a rare plant based “complete protein” containing all nine essential amino acids.
I am focused specifically on tofu since it is a Zero-BITE food on the Better Balance plan. As a side note, so is edamame which is a great healthy snack! This takes me to the 3 servings a day. There is soy protein in my morning plant protein shake (Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal Replacement), and then if I have tofu for lunch and edamame as a snack I’ve met my requirements.
You see there were studies done on the benefit of soy which my mentor, Dr. Michael Greger goes into the details of at www.nutritionfacts.org. Bottom line, they found that with consumption of over 5 servings of soy the health benefits we’ll be discussing below leveled out, and 0-2 servings a day showed no benefits whatsoever. This brings us to our sweet spot of 3 servings.
But why? Here are just 8 of the many health benefits according to WebMD.com:
- Good Fat: Most of the fat in soy is polyunsaturated, including omega-6 and the all-important omega-3 fats. Other protein sources like beef and pork have a ton of saturated fat, which can increase your risk of heart disease. Swapping out your meat dishes with soy products like tofu (or tempeh) will reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Zero Cholesterol: Like all vegetables & grains, soy foods are naturally cholesterol-free. A number of studies seem to suggest that simply adding soy protein to your diet can help lower your LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol by 4%-6%.
- High Fiber: Soybeans have 10 grams of fiber per cup, compared to 0 grams for animal proteins like steak, chicken, and fish. The high fiber in soy may even lower the cholesterol you get from other foods.
- High in Iron: A cup of soybeans has about 9 mg of iron, which helps your blood deliver oxygen throughout your body. As a reference, men need around 9 mg of iron a day and women need 18 mg.
- Lower Blood Pressure: Soy packs a ton of protein but few carbs, a mix that seems to help bring your blood pressure down. Also, soy helps lower systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 2-5 points. This could cut your odds of a stroke by as much as 14%.
- Stronger Bones: Women can lose a lot of bone mass after menopause. This makes your bones more brittle and more likely to break. Doctors often prescribe estrogen, but soy contains a plant chemical called isoflavones, which mimics the effects of estrogen (in only positive ways). Research shows that isoflavones help to strengthen bones in post-menopausal women.
- Breast Cancer Protection: Soy seems to help protect against breast cancer in women. Scientists think the phytonutrient isoflavone is the reason that soy helps to shrink cancer tumors.
- Prostate Cancer Protection: In Asia, where people eat much more soy, men are less likely to get prostate cancer… and their chances for the disease drop the more soy they eat. Scientists think that same nutrient, the isoflavones, is the reason for slowing or stopping tumor growth in the prostate.
So, now you understand why soy is so important! If you’re on the Better Balance plan then you’ll definitely want to take advantage of this Zero-BITE food!
If you have issue (like me) with the texture of tofu, then simply sauté it stove top (with some delicious Zero-BITE veggies) until it browns a bit… then it will be much firmer and a bit crisp. One more tip; look for an organic, Non-GMO brand of tofu!
Bon Appetit! Happy Tracking!