What are tofu benefits and side effects? Is tofu vegan? Gluten free? Acidic or alkaline? Low fodmap? Good for you? Healthy? Sustainable? Here are tofu pros and cons: all the info on tofu that every ethical consumer wants to know…
Food is something we consume every day and if you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on tofu benefits and side effects.
You are going to learn all about tofu benefits and side effects. This will include tofu benefits for your health and potential risks. Is tofu alkaline? See tofu’s water footprint and carbon footprint, tofu sustainability, if tofu is vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more.
After learning if tofu is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.
This post is all about tofu benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.
Tofu Benefits And Side Effects
Tofu benefits for health may include:
- anemia prevention
- boost energy
- cognitive function
- neurological health
- possibly lessen symptoms of PMS
- possibly prevent migraine headaches
- regulate blood sugar
- relieve certain symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes
- bone health
- boost immunity
- combat free radicals
- decrease the risk of breast and prostate cancer (when consumed in moderation)
- improve kidney function
- lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
- manage and prevent type 2 diabetes
- possibly reduce bone loss and increase bone mineral density and prevent osteoporosis
- prevent liver damage
- protect against some cancers and heart disease
- helps build muscle
- enhance the skin and hair
- weight loss
Additionally, tofu is…
Water footprint: likely low, it takes 2,145 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of soybeans / 257 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of soybeans
Carbon footprint: low, 2.0 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of tofu, a car driving equivalent of 4.75 miles or 7.75 kilometers
Destruction: moderate, the two top producing soya producing countries are the US and Brazil, together they produce about 64% of the world’s supply, soya is Brazil’s biggest export by value, there are serious concerns about how much of it is behind deforestation in the Amazon and surrounding regions, however most of the world’s soya is fed to livestock, only 6% of it is eaten directly by humans, eating soy is much better for the environment than eating animal products, soya may also be planted on Amazon land previously deforested for cattle, be sure to buy organic, as pesticides contaminate soil, water, air, etc., for soy it is best to buy products sustainably grown and not products of Brazil
Tofu is likely…
- Sustainable, unless soy is a product of Brazil (Amazon)
Kills: none, tofu production does not require any animals to be killed
Harms: none, tofu production does not require any animals to be used
Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from tofu production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat
- Harmful to wildlife and ecosystems unless organic
Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible
Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation
Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits
- May involve worker exploitation, laborer issues, human rights concerns (depends on the brand)
Is tofu nutritious?
Yes! Tofu is high in protein, calcium, selenium, Vitamins B6, B2, and B1.
Where does most tofu come from?
Worldwide, the United States produces the most soy followed by Brazil, Argentina, China, India, Paraguay, Canada and Ukraine.
In the United States Iowa reported the largest number of acres planted to certified organic soybeans followed by Minnesota and Michigan.
98% percent of soybean meal is used for animal feed (poultry, hogs and cattle mostly) and only 1% is used to produce food for people.
Around 70% of soybeans grown in the United States are used for animal feed, poultry being the number one livestock sector consuming soybeans, followed by hogs, dairy, beef and aquaculture.
Another name for tofu is bean curd.
Is tofu alkaline or acidic?
Tofu is alkaline.
What is the pH level of tofu?
Tofu has a 7.5 pH level once digested. Whole soybeans are also alkaline foods but processed soy like soy milk products are acidic.
When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.
Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List
Is tofu gluten free?
Yes, tofu is gluten free. Tofu does not contain gluten when unseasoned and unbreaded. Tofu is made from soybeans, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food.
While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…
Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include: recurring abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, tingling, numbness in hands and feet, chronic fatigue, joint pain, unexplained infertility and low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis).
There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.
Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List
Is tofu a common food allergen?
Yes, tofu contains a common food allergen: soy. Many people experience allergic reactions to tofu.
A group of the eight major allergenic foods is often referred to as the Big-8 and includes milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans.
These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.
Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis.
Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.
Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List
Is tofu low FODMAP?
Yes, tofu is low-FODMAP and fit into a low-FODMAP diet.
A low FODMAP diet may help those with bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
It’s all about knowing your body. Observe what works and what doesn’t. You body might even react negatively to a low-FODMAP food simply due to intolerance. Everyone is different! Be mindful and patient. Take time to get to know what’s best for your physical health and overall wellbeing.
See this High-FODMAP and Low-FODMAP List of Food
Water footprint of tofu?
Tofu has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.
It takes 2,145 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of soybeans / 257 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of soybeans.
Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource? Once it’s gone, it’s gone!
How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?
We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.
Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List
Carbon footprint of tofu?
Tofu has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.
It takes around 2.0 CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of tofu, a car driving equivalent of 4.75 miles or 7.75 kilometers.
Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.
When calculating product emissions, some factors that may be included are… farm equipment, animal feed production, hothouses (greenhouses), food processing, packaging, transport, refrigeration, freezing, package waste, and more.
But that’s not all!
It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:
- shopping locally reduces transportation emissions
- food without packaging reduces waste as well as the carbon footprint
- refrigerated and frozen foods increase carbon emissions
- seasonal foods reduce carbon emissions from hothouses (greenhouses)
- growing plant-based foods at home is the most environmentally sustainable method with zero carbon footprint
Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List
Is tofu sustainable?
Tofu production is relatively sustainable unless soy is sourced from Brazil. Be sure to buy non GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc. when using regenerative practices.
A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.
Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.
A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.
Read more about ‘What Makes Food Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’
Is tofu vegan?
Yes, tofu is vegan. Tofu is made from soybeans and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food.
Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.
Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.
Go vegan for animals!
It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.
Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List
Does tofu have human rights issues?
At this time there have been no major concerns with tofu production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!
It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.
Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized.
Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death!
Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation.
Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards.
We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.
Be sure to read up on this list of ‘Foods You Should Always Buy Fair Trade‘
This post was all about tofu benefits and side effects.
tofu – FoodData Central – USDA
What are the benefits of tofu? – National Agricultural Library