Tofu is a vegetarian food made from soy beans. It is created by curdling soy milk, in a process that is similar to making cheese from milk. Tofu comes in a variety of textures, from soft or silken, which resembles the firmness of scrambled eggs, to extra firm, which holds its shape when cooked. The creamy texture and neutral flavor of tofu makes it extremely versatile, so you can use it in savory or sweet dishes. Then nutritional profile for tofu varies according to type and brand, but raw, regular tofu prepared with calcium sulfate offers a number of vitamins and minerals.
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Calcium, Iron and Phosphorus
Tofu is a non-dairy source of the bone-building mineral calcium. One-half cup of raw, regular tofu prepared prepared with calcium sulfate provides 43 percent of the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Raw, regular tofu also offers 37 percent of the RDA for iron, essential for proper red-blood cell function. A 1/2-cup serving of tofu also contains 12 percent of the RDA for phosphorus which also supports healthy bones and teeth. Tofu without calcium sulfate contains less of these minerals. For example, silken tofu provides just 3 percent of the RDA for calcium, 4 percent for iron and 5 percent for phosphorus and extra firm provides 16 percent for calcium, 9 percent for iron and 12 percent for phosphorus.
Potassium and Magnesium
Tofu is a source of potassium, with 1/2 cup of most versions tofu providing 3 to 4 percent of the RDA. Potassium helps regulate your body’s mineral and fluid balance, giving you energy, enabling proper muscle contraction and preventing irregularities in blood pressure. Tofu also offers 6 to 9 percent of the RDA for magnesium, a mineral critical to the production of enzymes that promote energy and the absorption of nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.
Raw, regular tofu contains 12 percent of the RDA for copper, 7 percent for zinc, 38 percent for manganese and 16 percent for selenium per 1/2 cup of the raw regular variety. Your body only needs small amount of these minerals, but they are critical for immunity, blood vessel and nerve health and strong bones. Most varieties of tofu offer similar concentrations of these minerals.
The B vitamins consist of eight essential nutrients that help you metabolize food into energy. Tofu contains 7 percent of the RDA for thiamin, 4 percent for riboflavin, 3 percent for vitamin B6, 5 percent for folate and 1 percent for niacin and pantothenic acid, per 1/2 cup. The B vitamins also support other essential body functions, such as red blood cell production, heart and muscle functioning and growth.
A 1/2-cup serving of raw, regular tofu provides 2 to 4 percent of the RDA for vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential to vision health. Some varieties of tofu, specifically silken and extra firm, provide no vitamin A.