Tofu is better than its reputation

Frequent myths put to the test

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tofu is one of the best-known and oldest foods made from soy and a classic for people who want to avoid meat. To make it, soy milk is mixed with a coagulant and then pressed to remove the excess liquid. However, tofu was not originally intended as a meat substitute. In its home countries of China and Japan, tofu is considered a staple food - and not just for vegans and vegetarians. Tofu is easy to digest and is an excellent source of protein thanks to the essential amino acids it contains. It also provides fiber, B vitamins, minerals and many polyunsaturated fatty acids. Despite its great popularity, tofu is often criticized. Antonia Brandstädter from the NRW consumer advice center explains what is really true.

Misconception 1: Tofu is harmful to the climate

Although rainforest is often cut down to grow soy, soy from rainforest regions is mostly used as feed soy. While almost 80 percent of the soy grown is used to feed animals, only ten to 20 percent of the soy grown worldwide is used for human consumption, including for tofu. This soy often comes from Europe: information such as "with organic soybeans from Austria" on the packaging shows that only soy from EU agriculture has been processed. Other labels, such as the Danube Soy Seal or "Soy from EU agriculture", also indicate that the soy comes from Europe. This reduces ecological disadvantages such as long-distance transportation or rainforest deforestation. If you want, you can also ask the manufacturer. The new EU deforestation regulation will also lead to a more ecologically advantageous soy supply in the future, as products associated with deforestation may no longer be imported into the EU after a transitional period has expired.

Misconception 2: Tofu is genetically modified

This is not true across the board. Once again, it depends on the origin. The cultivation of genetically modified soy plants is currently not permitted in the EU. In Brazil and the USA, however, genetically modified varieties are common. If you choose tofu with soybeans from EU countries, you can therefore be sure that it is not genetically modified. This also applies to organic tofu. Seals such as "Ohne Gentechnik", "Fairtrade" or "Donau-Soja" also indicate GM-free products, but are not yet widespread for tofu. Random samples taken by the state inspection authorities show that tofu in particular contains the least evidence of genetic engineering - whereas sports and diet drinks contain the most. Imported products made from genetically modified soy plants must also be labeled throughout the EU.

Misconception 3: Tofu is harmful to health

No. Tofu is not a miracle cure, but numerous studies point to the positive health effects of soy products, such as a lower risk of breast and prostate cancer or cardiovascular disease. Tofu also scores points for its high content of high-quality protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. In normal quantities, therefore, there is nothing to be said against consuming tofu as part of a varied, plant-based diet. The isoflavones contained in soy are the cause of the misconception. They are also known as plant oestrogen because their structure is similar to that of the human hormone oestrogen. The exact effect of isoflavones on the human metabolism is the subject of intensive research. However, caution should be exercised with high-dose food supplements containing isoflavones. There is a lack of data here, particularly in the case of prolonged intake. And: People who are allergic to soy should avoid tofu and other products containing soy.

Misconception 4: Tofu is monotonous

It depends. Tofu is a largely tasteless food and can therefore taste monotonous in its pure state. However, this characteristic also makes tofu a versatile product that can take on a wide variety of flavors and spices. Due to the consistency of tofu, which ranges from firm to soft silken tofu, many animal products can be imitated - with the right marinade, tofu can taste confusingly similar to bacon or scrambled eggs, for example. Tofu is often offered smoked or in different flavors, which makes preparation easier for beginners.

Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.

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