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Friday, May 24, 2013

Tofu - The Vegetarian Protein

Tofu has become the latest rage in western vegetarian cooking and is a good substitute for proteins for people who opt for vegetarian diets. It has become a household name in Asian countries too. It is not a natural growing substance but it is made by the coagulation of soya milk. The resulting curd is converted into blocks of Tofu and it is available in a wide variety. It can be kept frozen for around three to four months. A variety of dishes can be made incorporating Tofu. It is low in calories yet has high protein content and hence replaces the lean meats and other protein sources.
Tofu comes in a huge variety in the market. Broadly it can be categorised into three categories. Firm tofu has a higher amount of proteins, fats and calcium also. Moreover it is quite compact and firm and is available in cubes. Tofu also comes in a softer variety which can be easily blended to suit any recipe. Silken tofu is the third variety of tofu and as its name suggests, it has a creamy consistency. Silken tofu can be consumed as such also with sauces...
Tofu provides wholesome nutrition to people who eat it regularly. It is a rich source of protein and around 10% of tofu is made of proteins. This soya product is very cheap and is readily available hence it can be used as a good substitute for 'meat'.
Many people believe that tofu can be used as a substitute for meat. Vegetables do have carbohydrates and vitamins. They have often been seen to have dietary fibres and amino acids. But vegetables lack in proteins and hence Tofu can be used to provide the proteins for vegetarian people. Tofu should be eaten more often to get the needed proteins. It also provides fats, carbohydrates and fibre.
Generally tofu is easily digested and is also known to reduce the cholesterol levels in the blood along with triglycerides ad lipoproteins. Hence Tofu provides all essential nutrients and is beneficial in reducing cardio vascular diseases too. Tofu also contains Isoflavones which are also present in other soya products. Isoflavones are known to exhibit antioxidant effects and arrest aging effects. The intake of soya products prevents breast cancer and osteoporosis too. Hence tofu is a compact food which has several health benefits. However high consumption of tofu leads to dementia as is seen in old people but in younger ones it may have a role in protecting the brain. But on the whole eating tofu has not shown any adverse effects.
Cooking with Tofu is very easy as it can be stored in the refrigerator and used whenever needed. Moreover it is one of the most adaptable foods and it can be incorporated in almost any type of recipe. It can be marinated and kept and then, grilled, microwave or even cooked in a pan. Tofu is known for its chameleon like adapting properties.
Hence all in all Tofu is a complete food and is a rich source of proteins. No wonder it is sometimes known as the poor man's meat as it is easily available and cheap too but is also rich in proteins. It is no longer considered to be the bland food of Chinese but has gained a reputation as an essential food for vegan people.
KAVITA G

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