Close this search box.
True Self Care Logo

Is Tofu Good For Health? A Comprehensive Guide

Tofu is a popular food made from soybeans that has been consumed for centuries in many Asian cuisines. It is also a staple for many vegetarians and vegans, as it provides a good source of plant-based protein, calcium, iron, and other nutrients. But is tofu really good for your health? What are the benefits and risks of eating tofu regularly? How can you prepare tofu in delicious and creative ways? In this blog post, we will answer these questions and more, to help you decide whether tofu is a healthy choice for you.

What is tofu and how is it made?

Tofu is a product of soy milk, which is extracted from soaked and ground soybeans. The soy milk is then heated and coagulated with a mineral salt, such as calcium sulfate or magnesium chloride, to form curds. The curds are then pressed and shaped into blocks of varying firmness, from silken to extra-firm. Tofu can also be flavored with herbs, spices, sauces, or marinades, to enhance its taste and texture.

What are the nutritional facts of tofu?

Tofu is low in calories but high in protein and fat. It also contains all nine essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein that your body cannot make on its own. Tofu is also rich in minerals, such as calcium, manganese, copper, selenium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Depending on the type and amount of coagulant used, tofu can provide different amounts of these minerals. For example, calcium-set tofu has more calcium than magnesium-set tofu, while nigari-set tofu has more magnesium than calcium-set tofu.

Here is the nutritional information for a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of firm, calcium-set tofu:

  • Calories: 144
  • Protein: 17 grams
  • Carbs: 3 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams
  • Calcium: 53% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Manganese: 51% of the DV
  • Copper: 42% of the DV
  • Selenium: 32% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 18% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 15% of the DV
  • Iron: 15% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 14% of the DV
  • Zinc: 14% of the DV

As you can see, tofu is a nutrient-dense food that can help you meet your daily requirements for many vitamins and minerals.

What are the health benefits of tofu?

Tofu has been associated with several health benefits, such as:

  • Lowering cholesterol levels and improving heart health. Soy foods, such as tofu, have been shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol, which can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Soy foods also contain isoflavones, which are plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Isoflavones may help prevent blood clots, improve blood vessel function, and modulate hormone levels.
  • Reducing the risk of some cancers. Isoflavones may also have anticancer effects, by inhibiting the growth of tumor cells, inducing apoptosis (cell death), and regulating cell cycle. Some studies have suggested that soy foods may lower the risk of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers, especially when consumed at an early age or in moderate amounts. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings and to understand the mechanisms involved.
  • Alleviating menopausal symptoms. Isoflavones may also act as phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that can mimic or modulate the effects of estrogen in the body. Estrogen levels decline during menopause, which can cause hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and bone loss. Some studies have found that soy foods may help reduce the frequency and severity of these symptoms, by providing a natural source of estrogen . However, the results are not consistent and may depend on the individual’s metabolism, genetics, and gut bacteria.
  • Preventing osteoporosis. Tofu is a good source of calcium, which is essential for maintaining bone health and preventing osteoporosis. Calcium-set tofu can provide more than half of the daily recommended intake of calcium in one serving. Tofu also contains other bone-supporting nutrients, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin K. Isoflavones may also help preserve bone density, by stimulating bone formation and inhibiting bone resorption .

What are the potential risks of tofu?

Tofu is generally considered safe and healthy for most people, but there are some potential risks to be aware of, such as:

  • Allergic reactions. Some people may be allergic or intolerant to soy or its components, such as proteins, lectins, or oligosaccharides. Soy allergy can cause symptoms such as hives, itching, swelling, wheezing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or anaphylaxis. Soy intolerance can cause symptoms such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, or constipation. If you have a history of soy allergy or intolerance, you should avoid tofu and other soy products.
  • Thyroid problems. Soy foods contain goitrogens, which are substances that can interfere with the production and function of thyroid hormones. Goitrogens can cause goiter, which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism, which is a condition characterized by low levels of thyroid hormones. However, these effects are usually only seen in people who have an iodine deficiency, a preexisting thyroid disorder, or consume excessive amounts of soy foods . If you have a thyroid condition or take thyroid medication, you should consult your doctor before eating tofu or other soy products.
  • Gastrointestinal issues. Tofu contains phytic acid, which is a compound that can bind to minerals and reduce their absorption. Phytic acid can also inhibit the activity of digestive enzymes, such as amylase, protease, and lipase, which can impair the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. However, these effects are usually minor and can be reduced by soaking, sprouting, fermenting, or cooking soybeans before making tofu.
  • Hormonal imbalances. As mentioned earlier, isoflavones can act as phytoestrogens, which can affect the balance of hormones in the body. This may have beneficial effects for some people, such as postmenopausal women, but it may also have adverse effects for others, such as premenopausal women, children, or men. Some studies have suggested that high intake of soy foods may disrupt menstrual cycles, fertility, sexual development, or reproductive health . However, these findings are controversial and not conclusive, and more research is needed to determine the safe and optimal dose of soy foods for different populations.

How to choose and store tofu?

Tofu is widely available in supermarkets, health food stores, and Asian markets. You can choose from different types of tofu, depending on your preference and cooking method. Here are some tips to help you choose and store tofu:

  • Check the label. Look for tofu that is made from organic, non-GMO soybeans, and that does not contain any additives, preservatives, or artificial flavors. Also, check the expiration date and avoid tofu that is past its shelf life or has signs of spoilage, such as mold, discoloration, or sour smell.
  • Choose the right firmness. Tofu comes in different levels of firmness, from silken to extra-firm. Silken tofu has a soft and creamy texture, and is best for blending, pureeing, or making desserts. Soft tofu has a slightly firmer texture, and is good for soups, stews, or scrambles. Medium tofu has a more solid texture, and is suitable for stir-frying, baking, or grilling. Firm and extra-firm tofu have the most dense and chewy texture, and are ideal for frying, roasting, or marinating.
  • Store it properly. Tofu can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to three months. If you buy tofu that is packaged in water, you should drain the water and replace it with fresh water every day, or transfer the tofu to an airtight container and cover it with water. If you buy tofu that is vacuum-sealed, you can keep it in its original package until you open it. If you freeze tofu, you should thaw it in the refrigerator before using it, and be aware that it may change its texture and become more porous and sponge-like.

How to prepare and cook tofu?

Tofu is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various dishes, from salads and sandwiches to curries and casseroles. Here are some tips to help you prepare and cook tofu:

  • Press it. Pressing tofu can help remove excess water and improve its texture and flavor. To press tofu, you can use a tofu press, or place the tofu between two plates or cutting boards, and weigh it down with something heavy, such as a book or a can. Press the tofu for 15 to 30 minutes and drain the water that comes out.
  • Marinate it. Marinating tofu can help infuse it with flavor and make it more delicious. To marinate tofu, you can use any sauce or dressing of your choice, such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, barbecue sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, or oil. Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces and place them in a shallow dish or a ziplock bag. Pour the marinade over the tofu and make sure it is well coated. Refrigerate the tofu for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight, and flip it occasionally to ensure even absorption.
  • Cook it. Cooking tofu can help improve its texture and taste, and make it more crispy and golden. You can cook tofu in different ways, such as frying, baking, grilling, or air-frying. To fry tofu, heat some oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the tofu pieces. Cook for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are browned and crisp on all sides. To bake tofu, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the tofu pieces in a single layer and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway, until they are golden and firm. To grill tofu, preheat the grill to high and lightly oil the grates. Place the tofu pieces on the grill and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until they have grill marks and charred edges. To air-fry tofu, preheat the air fryer to 180°C (350°F) and spray the basket with cooking spray. Place the tofu pieces in the basket and air-fry for 15 to 20 minutes, shaking occasionally, until they are crispy and dry.
  • Enjoy it. Tofu is a versatile ingredient that can be enjoyed in various dishes, from salads and sandwiches to curries and casseroles. You can also eat tofu as a snack, with some dipping sauce or seasoning. Some examples of delicious tofu recipes are:
    • Tofu scramble. Crumble some tofu and cook it with some oil, onion, garlic, turmeric, salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast, for a vegan alternative to scrambled eggs. You can also add some vegetables, cheese, or herbs, for extra flavor and nutrition.
    • Tofu salad. Cube some tofu and toss it with some lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, and your favorite dressing, for a simple and refreshing salad. You can also add some nuts, seeds, or dried fruits, for some crunch and sweetness.
    • Tofu curry. Cut some tofu into cubes and simmer it with some coconut milk, curry paste, onion, garlic, ginger, and vegetables, for a creamy and spicy curry. You can also add some lime juice, cilantro, or basil, for some freshness and aroma.
    • Tofu sandwich. Slice some tofu and layer it with some bread, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise, for a satisfying and filling sandwich. You can also add some mustard, ketchup, or relish, for some tang and zest.


Here are some frequently asked questions about tofu and its health effects:

  • Is tofu gluten-free? Yes, tofu is naturally gluten-free, as it is made from soybeans, which do not contain gluten. However, some tofu products may contain gluten, if they are flavored or processed with ingredients that contain gluten, such as wheat, barley, or rye. Therefore, if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you should check the label carefully and look for tofu that is certified gluten-free.
  • Is tofu keto-friendly? Yes, tofu can be keto-friendly, as it is low in carbs but high in protein and fat. However, tofu is not very high in fat, compared to other keto-friendly foods, such as cheese, butter, or nuts. Therefore, if you are following a keto diet, you should pair tofu with other high-fat foods, such as oils, sauces, or dressings, to increase your fat intake and meet your macros.
  • Is tofu good for weight loss? Yes, tofu can be good for weight loss, as it is low in calories but high in protein and fiber. Protein and fiber can help you feel full and satisfied, and reduce your appetite and calorie intake. Protein can also help you preserve your muscle mass and boost your metabolism, which can increase your calorie expenditure. Tofu can also help you lose weight by replacing higher-calorie foods, such as meat, cheese, or eggs, in your diet.
  • Is tofu bad for men? No, tofu is not bad for men, as long as it is consumed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. There is no conclusive evidence that tofu or other soy foods can lower testosterone levels, reduce sperm quality, or cause gynecomastia (enlarged breasts) in men. In fact, some studies have suggested that tofu or other soy foods may have beneficial effects for men, such as lowering the risk of prostate cancer, improving cardiovascular health, and enhancing erectile function.

I hope you found this blog post helpful and informative. If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading!

In This Post:

Editor`s Pick:
Stay In Touch

Never miss an important update. Be the first to receive our exclusive beauty tips straight into your inbox.