If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, one way to do so is to eat less red meat and eat more meat substitutes, like tofu (which means bean-curd). Tofu has been a vegetarian staple for years now, but it is slowly making its way into the mainstream. Even die-hard meat lovers are beginning to view tofu as an alternative or substitute to their regular meat.
Getting to know tofu
But what is it about tofu that makes it such a wonder food? For one thing, it is high in protein, minerals and vitamins but low in calories, sodium and fat. The best thing about it is that it barely has any taste of its own, so it can readily absorb the flavor of whatever sauce you use for it.
Tofu is made from the curds of soybean milk. It is usually available in three different textures – extra firm, firm and silken. The texture of tofu that you should buy depends on how you’re going to cook it. Firm varieties are perfect for sautés and fried dishes. You can also use firm tofu for grilling or baking. On the other hand, silken varieties are used in soups and desserts.
The wonders of tofu
The primary health benefit of tofu is from the soybean base. Soybeans are known to be rich in minerals, protein, and a plant component called isoflavones.
Studies show that tofu can lower the incidence of heart disease. It appears that the isoflavones and soy protein in tofu are powerful cholesterol fighters. In fact, regular consumption of tofu can lead to about 30% drop in your cholesterol level.
Not only is it heart healthy, tofu is also beneficial to menopausal women, because the isoflavones in tofu acts as a form of estrogen. It can help maintain the correct hormone levels and halt the loss of estrogen. Regulating the supply of estrogen is important for females, because low levels of estrogen are associated with breast cancer and osteoporosis.
Isoflavones found in tofu also fends off prostate cancer in men. Studies show that it helps slow down the growth of cancer cells in the prostate gland.
Tofu is also a great source of calcium. It can protect against bone loss, bone weakness or even rheumatoid arthritis. A single serving of tofu already provides you with 10 percent of your daily recommended calcium intake.
Tofu is perfect for those in a diet. It is filling, it is tasty (when cooked well) and it is not fattening.
Find a good cookbook with various tofu recipes. If it is your first time to have tofu, a good option is to fry them in a bit of olive oil, chop them up and mix them with another dish. You’ll barely notice that the tofu is there. If, on another hand, you are already a tofu-eater, you may want to try out new recipes for making delicious tofu dishes, such as tofu steak.
The important thing is to gradually introduce more and more tofu into your diet, to be able to reap all the benefits for your health.
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