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Tofu: Good or Bad?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I've been trying to research this, but have found much conflicting information. On the one hand, it is purported to be a low cal nutritional powerhouse. On the other, it's full of estrogens and compounds that mess up absorption of essential nutrients. What's true and what isn't? It's been around for a long time; the Asian population doesn't seem to be suffering from the diet-related health problems that Westerners do. Of course, the Asian diet also has a lot of fish in it that our doesn't. So confused! Can anyone direct me to a good link or otherwise enlighten me?
post #2 of 22
I've been wondering the same thing! I'll just share this one thing I read, that the process of making soy milk is what's particularly bothersome, and tofu is obviously not make the same way. But that's it, that's all I read! So maybe those estrogens are released by the soy milk making process, but not when beans are made into tofu? Seriously, that's just speculation on my part.

Hopefully someone better informed than I will answer. I'm curious to know, as well.
post #3 of 22
Tofu is made FROM soymilk.

This topic comes up frequently in this forum, and usually devolves into a debate between vegans and TFers and gets deleted.

If you believe soy is unhealthy, tofu is a soy food.

I have never seen a credible peer-reviewed study indicating that organic soy is in any way dangerous to those who aren't allergic to/intolerant of it.
There might be a problem eating a lot of soy in a short time if you have thyroid issues and don't usually, but when someone regularly eats soy, thyroid medication is adjusted to compensate, and the evidence of that is not super-solid. My family does eat organic soy foods - we love tofu, edamame, tempeh, yogurt, and soymilk.
post #4 of 22
I mean...as with all things, perhaps in moderation? I think maybe there could be an issue if you just replace all meat/dairy in your diet with processed soy food. I don't see how occasionally it could be that bad for you, though.
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by catnip View Post
Tofu is made FROM soymilk.
Makes sense, now you point it out.
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by texmati View Post
I mean...as with all things, perhaps in moderation?
I agree.

ETA: I would also make sure that all tofu is organic, and try and cut out soy-based meat analogs and soymilk.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
I definitely go for the organic soy stuff. I have heard -- don't know if it's true, but better safe than sorry -- that most soy products are GMO unless they're organic. I also try and avoid most overly processed foods anyway, regardless of soy content. No Tofurkey in this house

It's funny that this is such a contentious issue that threads have been removed before! I thought it was a pretty innocent question. Just goes to show what an emotional issue food can be.
post #8 of 22
in B4 the WAPF brigade shows up and the mods take our toys away!!1
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
wapf?
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post
wapf?
Weston A Price Foundation
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Oh interesting. I had to google that. OK, well, any organization that is mounting legal action against prisons who are serving their inmates soy products would have a very clear answer to my question about tofu.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by texmati View Post
I mean...as with all things, perhaps in moderation? I think maybe there could be an issue if you just replace all meat/dairy in your diet with processed soy food. I don't see how occasionally it could be that bad for you, though.
Yup.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post
Oh interesting. I had to google that. OK, well, any organization that is mounting legal action against prisons who are serving their inmates soy products would have a very clear answer to my question about tofu.
Now, whether their answer is an accurate one? That I question.

The anti-soy folks are very passionate in their beliefs. Walnuts are a great food, incredibly rich in all sorts of vital nutrients. I can't eat them, because they make me sick. Soy is the same way. Some people can't eat it. Doesn't mean it's bad for the rest of us. I've looked at the data, and found it unconvincing in the face of large amounts of data that contradicts it.
I've seen no convincing evidence that phytoestrogens are dangerous.

I eat organic soyfoods. I love tofu, and eat it almost every day, because I find that it has the right balance of macronutrients to be a satisfying breakfast food for me. I also find the combination of the nutritional profile of soymilk, the flavor, and the affordability to make it the best non-dairy milk choice for my family. YMMV.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by catnip View Post
Now, whether their answer is an accurate one? That I question.
Definitely not always accurate. However, it's a pity that the inmates are being fed a food that's causing them so many health problems, and not given an alternative. Especially when you consider that they were growing their own food before Blagojevich became governor in 2002. Apparently, one of his big campaign donors was Archer Midland Daniels, the likely supplier of the prisons' "food."

Quote:
Walnuts are a great food, incredibly rich in all sorts of vital nutrients. I can't eat them, because they make me sick. Soy is the same way. Some people can't eat it. Doesn't mean it's bad for the rest of us.
That's a good comparison. I'll bet if walnuts started being overly-processed and then added to a wide range of foods (that don't usually contain them), people would develop a sensitivity to them like some of us have to soy.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicharronita View Post

That's a good comparison. I'll bet if walnuts started being overly-processed and then added to a wide range of foods (that don't usually contain them), people would develop a sensitivity to them like some of us have to soy.
I actually suspect that's going to happen with coconut. You heard it here first!

It kind of surprises me that many of the people railing against processed soy are simultaneously posting their recipes for magical grain-free muffins using . . . defatted dried coconut 'flour', coconut 'shortening', and coconut 'nectar'/'sugar crystals'. Wut??! Talk about moderation and processing!
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sayward View Post
It kind of surprises me that many of the people railing against processed soy are simultaneously posting their recipes for magical grain-free muffins using . . . defatted dried coconut 'flour', coconut 'shortening', and coconut 'nectar'/'sugar crystals'. Wut??! Talk about moderation and processing!
That's a good point! However, I wonder if de-fatted coconut is as processed as say, isolated soy protein?

It could be that coconut's benefits will be hyped to the point that food manufacturers will do to it what they have done to soy: process it to death to make pricey health "bars" and other things because they're "healthy." Maybe they'll even find a way to make isolated coconut protein! *shudder*

Gary Taubes brings up in Good Calories, Bad Calories that just because olive oil is good for people living in Mediterranean areas, it doesn't mean everyone else in the world will do as well consuming it.

After I read that, I realized that applies to coconut and soy as well.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicharronita View Post
That's a good comparison. I'll bet if walnuts started being overly-processed and then added to a wide range of foods (that don't usually contain them), people would develop a sensitivity to them like some of us have to soy.
Well, actually, the less processed walnuts are, the more likely I am to react to them. I've never had a reaction to walnuts that had been soaked, dried, toasted and then baked into something. But raw ones will fill the entire inside of my mouth with bleeding sores, and my brother has started to have breathing reactions to them, when he didn't used to, so I've cut them out entirely as a precaution against my reaction becoming more severe.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicharronita View Post
Definitely not always accurate. However, it's a pity that the inmates are being fed a food that's causing them so many health problems, and not given an alternative. Especially when you consider that they were growing their own food before Blagojevich became governor in 2002. Apparently, one of his big campaign donors was Archer Midland Daniels, the likely supplier of the prisons' "food."
Oh, I have so so so much to say about this. Don't even know where to start. I guess I don't get a say in how legal defense funds get spent, but I think I might focus on something different for those inmates. Maybe like not putting them there in the first place, most of them. Prisons for profit? Shudder. This should not be happening. When I lived in NC, I often saw men and women in orange prison outfits labouring at the side of the road, doing public works jobs. They were working for free or very little compensation, I would think. If they didn't have this labour source, the city/county would have had to pay more than slave wages (or nothing at all). Pretty good incentive to keep jailing people. And how sad that they were growing their own food and then had to stop. I had no idea about any of that, but it doesn't surprise me. Look at the schools. It's starting to be so you can't send your kid with something not in a package, like a homemade muffin, for (apparent) fear of allergen contamination. I know this has nothing to do with tofu.


Chicharronita said:[/QUOTE]That's a good comparison. I'll bet if walnuts started being overly-processed and then added to a wide range of foods (that don't usually contain them), people would develop a sensitivity to them like some of us have to soy.[/QUOTE]

North Americans do tend to go overboard on the latest wonder food. Or, if not wonder food, food they're producing on a massive scale, in a mono-culture, that is subsidized by the government for some reason or other. So yeah, soy and corn. I DO definitely think that putting one food in everything is a bad idea, and I stay away (as much as possible) from soy isolates. Really, I try to stay away from processed food, period. But tofu I put in a different camp. Some cultures have been eating this stuff for a couple thousand years.
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post
But tofu I put in a different camp. Some cultures have been eating this stuff for a couple thousand years.
Yes, but until recently, they were eating it almost exclusively in fermented forms. Modern processed soy products really aren't the same thing. I eat fermented soy foods as much as I want without worrying about it (love tempeh!)
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by CherryBomb View Post
Yes, but until recently, they were eating it almost exclusively in fermented forms. Modern processed soy products really aren't the same thing. I eat fermented soy foods as much as I want without worrying about it (love tempeh!)
I thought tofu was a pretty traditional way to eat soy, and it's not fermented. What about edamame? Though they're not generally eaten daily, they're also pretty traditional in some places and also not fermented.
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