Is Tofu Good for Your Health?

Medically Reviewed on 10/12/2021
what is tofu
Tofu is a good source of protein for vegan and vegetarian diets, and it’s gluten-free, low in calories, and cholesterol-free.

Tofu, originated in China, is a vegan and vegetarian food product prepared by coagulating condensed soy milk that is pressed into solid, white blocks, in a process similar to that of creating cheese, to create soy bean curds.

Vegan and vegetarian tofu is:

  • naturally gluten-free,
  • low in calories,
  • free from cholesterol, and
  • a good source of protein, iron, and calcium.

Tofu contains isoflavones that are polyphenolic compounds that may have both estrogen-agonist and estrogen-antagonist properties. These have antioxidant properties and might help protect against certain cancers, coronary illnesses, and osteoporosis. Nonetheless, overconsumption may likewise cause a few ill effects.

Nutrient content in tofu

One block of firm tofu, weighing 122 grams contains:

Table. The nutrient content in one block of tofu (122 grams)
Nutrient Amount
Calories 177
Carbohydrate 5.36 g
Fat 12.19 g
Protein 15.57 g
Calcium 421 mg
Magnesium 65 mg
Iron 3.35
Phosophorus 282 mg
Potassium 178 mg
Zinc 2 mg
Folate 27 mcg

4 health benefits of tofu

Some of the health benefits of vegan and vegetarian tofu include:

  1. May reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
    • Studies have discovered that soy isoflavones help reduce low-density lipoprotein or "bad" cholesterol levels.
    • Researchers have additionally found that soy isoflavones can decrease blood vessel inflammation and increase their elasticity.
  2. Reduces the risk of cancer
    • Genistein, the predominant isoflavone in soy, has antioxidant properties that might help inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
    • Isoflavones, which have additionally been shown to impact the menstrual cycle and blood estrogen levels, assist with decreasing the risk of breast cancer.
    • Tofu has been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and certain gastrointestinal cancer too.
  3. May reduce the risk of diabetes 
    • Research suggests that soy isoflavones may help boost sugar control. Tofu provides protein necessary for overall health.
    • Individuals with type II diabetes have an increased risk of kidney diseases, making the body excrete an increased amount of protein in the urine. Tofu consumption may help regulate blood cholesterol levels that are often deranged in people with diabetes.
  4. Other potential benefits
    • Bone well-being: Scientific information suggests that 80 mg of soy isoflavones each day might reduce bone loss, particularly in early menopause.
    • Brain health: Soy isoflavones may impact memory and brain function, particularly for women aged older than 65 years. 
    • Menopause side effects: Soy isoflavones may help reduce menopause symptoms.
    • Skin elasticity: Taking 40 mg of soy isoflavones each day may help decrease wrinkles and improve skin elasticity.
    • Weight reduction: Taking soy isoflavones may help lose weight. Research shows that people who consumed soy for 8 to 52 weeks lost 10 pounds more of body weight than those who did not consume soy at all.

What are the possible risks of consuming tofu?

Soybean food varieties can be a good alternative to meat items, but there is some discussion about the potential risks it may cause, such as:

  • Some doctors advise people with poor thyroid function to stay away from tofu because of its goitrogen content.
  • Soy isoflavones may disturb the development of reproductive organs in infants.
  • Some studies have suggested that high soy consumption could lead to a higher risk of breast cancer.
  • High soy consumption leads to overproduction of phytoestrogen, which might have a feminizing impact and could lead to complications, such as gynecomastia (breast development in men), or affect fertility.


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Medically Reviewed on 10/12/2021
Eze NM, Okwume UG, Eseadi C, et al. Acceptability and consumption of tofu as a meat Alternative Among Secondary School Boarders in Enugu State, Nigeria: Implications for Nutritional Counseling and Education. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(45):e13155.

Messina M. Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature. Nutrients. 2016;8(12):754.

Pal M, Devrani M, Ayele Y. Tofu: A Popular Food with High Nutritional and Health Benefits. Research Gate.