Tofu has been a staple in Chinese cuisine for centuries. In recent years, it has also taken the Western world by storm. Due to its high protein and nutrient content, tofu is most commonly used as a meat substitute by vegans and vegetarians.
But, can you eat it on keto? If you’ve searched for the answer to this question before, you will know that it isn’t very simple. To learn more about tofu, and whether you can incorporate it into a keto diet, take a look at the info-packed article below.
We include everything you need to know, from how tofu is made to its specific nutrient content and everything in between. We’ve also included a handy FAQ section to ensure that all of your tofu and keto-related questions are answered.
What Is Tofu?
Tofu originated in China and has been around for centuries. In recent years, it has become particularly popular in the Western world. However, many people still don’t really know what Tofu is made from.
Well, it is actually rather simple. Tofu is made from soy milk that is condensed. It is then pressed to make solid blocks. The process of making tofu is quite similar to that of making cheese – except you use soy milk instead of cow’s milk.
To ensure that the tofu produced is able to keep its form, nigari is generally added to the miz. This is a mineral-rich coagulant that is the waste product that you get when salt is extracted from seawater.
Nutritional Information For Tofu
Tofu contains many nutrients. It is high in proteins and contains all of the essential amino acids that your body loves! It is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and good fats, and has a very low carb content.
For a more detailed description, take a look at the table below. It describes the nutrient content of a 3.5-ounce serving of firm tofu. The nutritional content of different types of tofu will differ, however, this is a good indication of the general situation.
|Calcium||53% of Daily Value|
|Manganese||42% of Daily Value|
|Copper||42% of Daily Value|
|Selenium||32% of Daily Value|
|Vitamin A||18% of Daily Value|
|Phosphorus||15% of Daily Value|
|Iron||15% of Daily Value|
|Magnesium||14% of Daily Value|
|Zinc||14% of Daily Value|
How Healthy Is Tofu?
Many people are often concerned about the health value of Tofu due to the fact that it is made from Soybeans. Soy products have had a controversial place in the health industry for a long time due to research producing mixed results.
However, despite these results, tofu is considered to be quite healthy. First, as you can see from the table above, it is very rich in protein. Additionally, as mentioned above, tofu contains all of the essential amino acids that we need.
Thanks to its low calorie and high nutrient content, tofu is thought to have a wide-ranging number of health benefits. For instance, it is understood that tofu has a cholesterol-lowering effect, which has been linked to reducing heart disease.
In fact, many experts believe that the combination of fiber, protein and other nutrients within tofu may have a number of benefits for the heart. One such reason for these benefits is that tofu has much less saturated fat than the animal products it is often substituted for.
Additionally, the consumption of tofu has been linked to a reduced risk of some cancers. Recent studies have suggested that women who consume soy-rich diets can be up to 16% less likely to die following a cancer diagnosis, than those who eat very little soy.
Further, another recent review of studies on tofu came to the conclusion that women who regularly eat tofu could be 32% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who don’t eat it often or at all.
There are a number of studies that have concluded that tofu and soy-rich foods can work to lower the risk of dying from cancers of the stomach, large intestine, lungs, and prostate. It has also been found that high intakes of soy can also reduce the risk of endometrial cancer.
Other potential benefits of consuming tofu are:
- Protects against Type II Diabetes
- Improves brain function
- Reduces menopausal symptoms
- Has antidepressant effects
- It makes the bones stronger
Should You Eat Tofu On A Keto Diet?
Considering the wide-ranging health benefits of tofu, you’re likely keen to find out whether it is acceptable to eat it whilst on the keto diet. Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t that simple.
Looking at the nutritional information above, you will have noticed that tofu is very low in calories and carbs. This means that it should fit fairly easily into your keto diet plan. That’s great news, right?
Well, the story doesn’t end there. Tofu is made from soy, which is a legume. Typically, legumes are not consumed on a keto diet, especially if you are following a strict keto diet. And, it is estimated that up to 94% of soybeans are genetically modified.
As such, whether you want to include tofu in your keto diet is largely up to you. If you are not concerned about GMO foods and the inclusion of legumes in your diet, feel free to add tofu to your diet. If you follow a strict keto diet, then you shouldn’t include tofu in your diet.
Keto-Friendly Tofu Recipes
If you’re not being too strict with your keto diet, and you fancy enjoying some delicious tofu, take a look at some of these keto-friendly tofu recipes. Just reading about them will make your mouth water.
If you’re a fan of sweet and spicy flavors, you will absolutely love this keto firecracker tofu recipe. The tofu is cooked perfectly, so that it is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and bursting with flavor!
This recipe is dairy-free, egg-free, gluten free, keto, and nut-free. However, it is definitely not flavor-free. This super healthy curry is absolutely bursting with wonderful flavors. Who said vegan and keto food had to be bland?
If you want something light and refreshing for a summer lunch, this keto crispy tofu salad is perfect. The tofu is perfectly cooked, the veggies add great texture, and the salad dressing is to die for! What more could you want?
There is no doubt that a keto diet can be hard to follow. If you’ve been craving something super-indulgent and crispy, you need to check out these crispy keto-fried tofu sticks. They are low-carb, vegan, gluten-free, and absolutely delicious!
If you’ve been craving a takeout, but are too committed to your diet to go through with it (well done!), we recommend trying out this keto teriyaki tofu recipe. It is easy to prepare, super tasty, and will leave you feeling better than any takeout would!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have some burning tofu or keto-related questions, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out our answers to the frequently asked questions below.
What Kind Of Tofu Is Keto-Friendly?
As mentioned above, tofu is technically not keto-friendly if you follow a strict diet because it is made from soybeans, which are legumes. However, if you aren’t following a super strict diet, tofu is a low-carb food that can work in a keto diet.
If this is the case, you need to be careful, as picking the right kind of tofu is necessary. Flavored tofu will often contain added sugar and carbs, so stick to classic firm tofu. Also, purchase an organic version if possible.
Why Is Soy Not Allowed In Keto?
The reason soy isn’t allowed in keto is that it is considered to be highly processed. Highly processed foods are big keto no-nos. However, some people who follow the keto diet are more relaxed with this rule than others.
Is Natto Keto-Friendly?
Natto is a traditional Japanese dish. It is made from fermented soybeans and has a notable texture that appears sticky and stringy. It is considered to be very healthy and nutritious food, but is it keto-friendly?
Well, like tofu, yes and no. If you are following a strict keto diet, soybeans are ruled out due to the fact that they are legumes. As such, you can’t eat natto if this is the case.
However, if you are more relaxed with the rules, you definitely can eat natto because it is low carb.
Following a keto diet can be a tricky thing to commit to, especially when there is confusing and conflicting information about whether a certain food is keto-friendly or not.
We hope that this article has helped to clear up the confusion surrounding tofu so that you can make the most informed diet-related decisions possible. Good luck!