Happy New Year!
I hope all of you enjoyed yourselves as much as Tracy and I did! Sushi and Champagne is the way to go to on New Year’s Eve!
Anyway, speaking of Asian Cuisine, again, I was first introduced to Tofu when my family and I went to China in the early 1980’s. We ate everything from Thousand Year-Old Eggs, which are duck eggs marinated for 100 days in a mixture of black tea, lime, salt, and ash from pine wood, charcoal and a fireplace – seriously – to snake meat skinned in the middle of the street of Taipei at midnight. But the thing I hated the most was the Bean Curd, aka Tofu.
To this young, teenage, New Jersey-Italian boy, its lack of taste and firmness made me quiver endlessly, much like it did on my plate when I poked it with my chop stick. However, unlike ginger, which I used to dismiss and despise, but now love and also ate on New Year’s Eve (thanks to my own research), to this day, I can’t stand Tofu. I know many of you not only like it, but eat it daily as one of your primary protein sources. And while I am not the food snob my brother and his wife are, I am particular about my proteins, so to that I say, “yuck” and “why”.
I believe proteins, as well as all “foods” for that matter, should be natural as well as nutritious; not “manufactured” with coagulating soy juice pressed into white blocks. That doesn’t sound appetizing on any level. But hey, to each his and her own. However, realize that while I acknowledge there are a few benefits to eating soy-based proteins like Tofu, such as lower cholesterol, stronger bones, the alleviation of hot flashes in some menopausal women, as well as the potential for them to aid in the prevention of prostate cancer, I find that there are more cons than pros – along with the fact that the same, or even better, benefits can be found in other protein sources.
For example a 3 oz. serving of beef provides nearly half the daily amount of protein the average adult needs. Because it is packed with amino aids, it is optimal for muscle sustainability, repair and growth. It also a great source of iron which provides the body energy, zinc to strengthen the immune system and cancer-preventing B vitamins promoting healthy nervous system, digestion, skin and eyes. Tofu can’t do that.
Protein coming from fowl (especially the white meat of chicken and turkey) provides almost the same amount of per ounce as “meat” with practically no saturated fat. Studies have shown that chicken and turkey provide protection against Alzheimer’s disease, are a plentiful source of selenium which is essential for cell repair and human health, as well as a plethora B vitamins. Tofu can’t do that.
A diet high in fish, one of a very few that is high in vitamin D, is beneficial for preventing against dementia, diabetes and falls that may lead to fractures in older people. Tofu can’t do that.
Diets packed with low-fat dairy products like skim milk, non fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and eggs (I know Tracy, eggs are not really dairy – just in the dairy section. Humor me please!) are great sources of calcium, vitamin D and other essential nutrients that promote health and prevent disease. Tofu can’t do that.
Now I know some of you, especially you vegans, claim that some of the above “nutrients” can be found in Tofu. And that’s true to some extent. However, be aware that because Tofu is “man-made”, their nutrition content can vary depending on the brand and the amounts of vitamin and minerals they provide are relatively small compared to those of the proteins listed above – possibly leading to deficiencies. For example, a 1/2-cup serving of raw, regular Tofu provides 2 to 4 percent of the RDA for vitamin A. However, some varieties of Tofu, specifically silken and extra firm, provide no vitamin A.
Other effects of eating too much soy? First, several studies indicate that the isoflavones contained in soy protein increase the risk of breast cancer in some women AND men, gout in those susceptible to purine-related health problems, and hypothyroidism. Furthermore, hormonal dysfunction, miscarriages, infertility in women and diminished libido and erectile dysfunction in men have been seen with excessive ingestion of soy-based proteins.
So, what’s the bottom line(s)? If you are a carnivore, eat like one and get most, if not all, of your protein the way “nature” intended you to…eat “meat”, fish and “dairy”. If you are a vegan, limit your intake of soy-based proteins – especially Tofu and consider food combining. That way you’ll enjoy all of the benefits of eating complete proteins without the drawbacks of consuming too much soy.