Tofu Cheese: History and Benefits of Soy Product

Probably many have tried this is not quite an ordinary product, like soya meat. It is recommended to use athletes who are on a protein diet, and it is popular with those who want to lose weight, fasting or vegetarian diet. Sometimes in the descriptions of certain dishes you meet such an ingredient as soy milk. But the most common soy products are soy cheese – tofu.

The problem of vegetarian food is the lack of quality protein in vegetables and fruits. The amount of protein in tofu cheese exceeds even its content in meat products. Tofu is considered the best meat substitute. People who follow a vegetarian diet use tofu to add proteins to their diet. A very small amount of tofu provides 40 % protein, 25 % calcium and 100 % iron from daily human needs.

The history of the “Chinese cheese”

To be honest, I was sure that tofu, like soy meat, is a product of modern advanced technologies. However, it turned out that this is not so. People first tasted tofu 2 thousand years ago. They were Chinese!

The Chinese created many useful things, and although they were in no hurry to share them with the world, hiding their inventions behind the great wall of China, another people – namely the Japanese – successfully adopted Chinese inventions, and then shared them with the rest of humanity.

So was taken from China to Japan Kombucha tea mushroom, and only from Japan he got to other countries. In the VI century ad, Chinese Buddhist monks invented how to cook something like meat from… wheat flour. It is a product of seitan from wheat gluten, and this popular vegetarian product was exported from China to Japan many centuries ago. A similar fate befell tofu cheese: invented by the Chinese 2 thousand years ago, in the VIII century it came to Japan, in the X-XI century – in Vietnam, then spread throughout Southeast Asia, and in the XVIII century began its triumphal procession around the world.

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An important role in the popularity of tofu was played by the spread of Buddhism: East Asian Buddhism instructs monks not to eat the flesh of living beings, so the protein product of tofu was necessary for monks to maintain health. It was Japanese Buddhist monks who took out the secret of the production of this amazing product from China. For a long time it was called “Chinese cottage cheese”, and its use was a sign of belonging to the caste of the elect…

However, over time, the production of tofu (along with Buddhism) spread throughout Southeast Asia, as it was an important source of protein in the vegetarian diet of this religion. Since then, tofu has become a staple food in many countries in the region, including Vietnam, Thailand, Korea – with small regional differences in production methods, texture, taste and usage.

Tofu Cheese: History and Benefits of Soy Product

Legend has it that tofu was invented accidentally when a slurry of boiled, ground soybeans were sea water. The sea salt probably contained calcium and magnesium salts, which allowed the soy mixture to curdle like regular milk. Korean tofu (soft tofu and Okinawan tofu) is still produced in a similar way, traditionally using seawater as a coagulant.

From Asia to Europe tofu cheese came in the late XVIII century, and soon the American President Benjamin Franklin during a trip to London tried and praised the “cheese from China”. A hundred years later, in 1878, the States already produced their own tofu cheese from soy, because there was a demand for this product.

However, widespread interest in tofu began in the middle of the XX century. With the growth of cultural contacts between the West and East Asia, as well as the growing interest in vegetarianism occurred and the spread of this truly extraordinary product. Today, numerous varieties of tofu can be found in many supermarkets around the world. It is also used by many vegans and vegetarians as the best way to get protein without eating meat.

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Tofu: benefits and harms

Tofu is considered an extremely useful product. Its inclusion in the diet along with other plant products improves the overall health and well-being of the person. Soy is a major component of tofu. It is a complete source of protein that contains all the essential amino acids in the human diet, as well as a large number of healthy polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid.

Tofu Cheese: History and Benefits of Soy Product

It is believed that the use of moderate amounts of soy protein (up to 25 g per day) in the form of tofu

  • prevents cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis and high blood pressure, reducing the level of “bad” and increasing the level of “good” cholesterol;
  • prevents breast cancer and prostate cancer due to the presence of genistein, which has antioxidant properties and inhibits the growth of cancer cells;
  • recommended for people with type 2 diabetes, as soy protein is easier to pass renal filtration than animal proteins;
  • improves kidney function, which is why tofu is included in the diet of people who have undergone kidney transplantation or undergoing dialysis;
  • helps reduce bone loss, increases bone density in people during and after menopause;
  • relieves menopausal symptoms in women due to the high content of phytoestrogens in tofu;
  • protects the liver from free radical damage;
  • reduces the incidence of age-related mental and brain disorders;
  • strengthens bones, reduces PMS symptoms, regulates blood sugar levels, prevents migraines – due to the high content of calcium and magnesium.

Tofu Cheese: History and Benefits of Soy Product

Tofu also contains small amounts of thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, vitamin B-6, choline, manganese and selenium.

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However, although isoflavones in soy products have many health benefits, they also carry some risks. So, soy products are not recommended for women who are diagnosed with “breast cancer” – because of the high content of phytoestrogens.

Research on this topic is still ongoing, many doctors believe that moderate consumption of soy does not affect the growth of tumors in the human body and can even prevent recurrence of breast cancer. But while the evidence is insufficient, doctors advise to refrain from soy products to those who have experienced breast cancer.

Another negative point is that up to 90 % of genetically modified soybeans are grown in the world today, which does not give the consumer full confidence that he is buying a clean and useful product.

A few figures concerning tofu

100 g of solid tofu contains:

  • 145 kilocalories;
  • To 4.39 g of carbohydrates;
  • Of 9.99 g of fat;
  • 12.76 g protein;
  • 345 mg of calcium;
  • 53 mg of magnesium;
  • 2.74 mg of iron;
  • 231 mg phosphorus;
  • 146 mg of potassium;
  • 1.6 mg zinc;
  • 22 micrograms of folic acid.

Agree, tofu cheese – quite an unusual product, given that all these benefits are derived from ordinary nondescript beans. And almost one and a half kilograms of the most useful tofu can be made literally from a handful of beans – weighing 500-600 grams.

From a kilogram of the original product, as a rule, only half or a third of the useful is obtained. But with tofu – everything is exactly the opposite!

And the most interesting thing: tofu cheese can be made independently, if only at your disposal there is a mixer or food processor.

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