The Benefits of Eating Tofu: A Plant-Based Powerhouse

The Benefits of Eating Tofu: A Plant-Based Powerhouse

Tofu is growing ever more popular thanks to its versatility and its plant-based, nutrition-packed punch.

These aren’t just bland, white blocks like some people seem to think. This soy-based food made from curdling fresh soy milk brings much more to the table. Tofu takes on flavors easily, blending into sweet and savory dishes while providing a solid plant-based protein source.

Tofu is compatible with a whole food plant-based diet. Most people eating whole food plant-based consider it to be a minimally-processed whole food, still close enough to its original food source.

Plus, incorporating tofu into a balanced, plant-based diet provides important health benefits! Let's explore the functional food superpowers hidden within this unassuming ingredient.

The Many Forms of Tofu

The Many Forms of Tofu

Tofu might look uniform, but it actually comes in a variety of textures tailored to different cooking methods. Here’s a breakdown of the main types of tofu and their best uses:


Dense, firm tofu retains its shape when cooked with a satisfyingly meaty chew. It stands up to high heat from grilling, stir-frying, or breading and frying beautifully. Firm tofu offers the perfect canvas for soaking up bold sauces and marinades, too.


As the name suggests, soft tofu has a silky smooth, delicate texture. Its soft cubes fall apart gently when cooked. This makes soft tofu ideal for simmering in miso soups, rounding out the broth's savory flavor. The pillowy texture also works beautifully, blended into creamy dips and dressings. If silken tofu is also called Japanese-style, then soft tofu can be considered Chinese-style.


Silken tofu has an ultra-smooth, custard-like texture achieved through a different curdling process. This creamy soy-based food blends up smoothly in shakes and smoothies. Use soft, silken tofu in desserts like chocolate mousse. Firmer silken tofu makes an amazing dairy-free Alfredo sauce base. You can also crumble it up to mimic ricotta cheese in veggie lasagna!


As you might have guessed, extra-firm tofu has an exceptionally dense, chewy texture. It contains the least moisture and holds its shape remarkably well during cooking. Try baking or pan-searing extra-firm tofu into crispy cubes for a protein boost atop salads and rice bowls. The pieces soak up delicious flavors while providing some toothsome texture contrast against softer ingredients.

Why Tofu is Healthy

Healthy Tofu

Now that you know the many textures of tofu, you might want to unpack why including them more often provides important health perks. Tofu continues rising up the superfood charts, and for good reason. This plant-powered protein source packs in tons of nutrients linked to whole-body wellness. Let's break down the science-backed health benefits of incorporating more tofu into your diet:

1. Improves Heart Health

Several components of tofu improve biomarkers for cardiovascular wellness. The isoflavones in tofu lower LDL cholesterol levels to reduce plaque buildup in arteries. Research also finds links between higher tofu intake and lower blood pressure plus arterial stiffness. This adds up to better heart health and a lower risk of developing issues like hypertension. Additionally, an analysis of over 200,000 people found those eating higher amounts of tofu had an 18% lower risk of developing heart disease. Adding just half a serving per day can make a significant impact.

2. Lowers Cancer Risk

Observational studies link higher soy food intake with a lowered risk of certain hormone-related cancers. In fact, one study found that breast cancer patients who ate tofu were 21% less likely to die over nine and a half years. Isoflavones in soybeans may help limit the proliferation of cancer cells. The risk of developing cancer is also significantly lower in women who include tofu and other soy products in their diet. This may be due to the anti-inflammatory properties of tofu and its ability to reduce oxidative stress.

3. Builds Muscle

Tofu packs in a whopping 21.8g protein per half-cup serving. And it contains all the essential amino acids required to efficiently build and maintain muscle mass. This makes tofu a complete protein source for supporting an active lifestyle. Of course, while that same half-cup does contain fat, it is mostly healthy, unsaturated fat, which is crucial for lean muscle development.

4. Strengthens Bones

In addition to muscle-building protein, tofu contains nutrients like calcium and magnesium that are integral to bone health. A 4oz serving of tofu provides over 430mg of calcium plus half your daily needs for manganese. This nutrient combo helps build and maintain strong bones to reduce the risk of osteoporosis over time.

5. Assists with Weight Management

Trying to maintain a healthy body weight or lose weight? The satiating protein and fiber in tofu support weight regulation. Adding tofu to the daily diet has been shown in research to assist with losing belly fat and body weight. The mechanisms behind tofu's weight management benefits likely involve both improved satiety and enhanced metabolism. With 10g of filling protein per serving, tofu boosts post-meal fullness, so you eat less without feeling deprived. This plant-based protein also requires more calories for the body to break down compared to fats or carbs.

Nutrition of Tofu

What exactly makes up this miracle food? This section crunches the numbers on tofu’s nutritional content. For the purpose of this example, we'll use firm tofu. Note that different types of tofu (silken, soft, medium) will have slightly different nutrition profiles.

A 3.5-ounce serving, about half a cup, of raw firm tofu contains around:

  • Calories: 144
  • Fat: 9g
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 17g

Tofu also brings important micronutrients in great quantities of daily value (%DV). A serving of firm tofu delivers:

  • Calcium: 53% DV
  • Iron: 15% DV
  • Magnesium: 14% DV
  • Manganese: 51% DV
  • Zinc: 14% DV
  • Vitamin A: 18% DV

So, just half a cup of plain tofu supplies a quarter of your daily calcium needs, plus hearty amounts of muscle-building protein and satiating fiber. It’s an all-around nutritional powerhouse!

Risks of Eating Tofu

Of course, no food suits all bodies perfectly. Some people worry about the health risks of the soy isoflavones naturally found in tofu and other soy products. But studies find little concern when consuming soy foods in normal dietary amounts.

The soybean compounds weakly mimic estrogen in the body. Large doses via supplements significantly impact hormone levels. But smaller amounts of whole soy foods show little effect. Human trials reveal no changes in key male sex hormones like testosterone at intake, regardless of portion.

The only potential downside is thyroid health. The isoflavones in soy foods may disrupt thyroid function, especially for those with preexisting hypothyroidism. But negative effects disappear once soy intake stops.

Tips for Consuming Tofu

Properly storing and preparing tofu makes all the difference in texture and taste. Follow these simple tricks:

  • Select fresh tofu with tight packaging and clear liquid. Avoid grey liquid or off smells.

  • Store tofu submerged in water in the fridge, changing liquid daily. It keeps for 3-7 days past any expiration or sell-by date.

  • Before cooking, always drain and press out excess moisture for better texture. Use a tofu press or weighted plates.

  • For firmer tofu, freeze, then thaw to create a more chewy, spongy texture.

  • Soak tofu in sauce or marinade for 30+ minutes to boost flavor. It goes great with soy sauce, lemon, chili, and more!

  • Try baking, sautéing, scrambling, or crumbling. There are so many tasty ways to cook up this versatile food!

Ways to Prepare Tofu


Tofu adapts wonderfully to both sweet and savory dishes.

  • Try using firm or extra-firm tofu for stir-fried tacos or to bake up crisp, golden cubes.

  • Mix soft or silken tofu into smoothies and creamy desserts.

  • Add crumbled tofu to pasta sauces, salads, and bakes for a protein punch.

Give baked tofu a try for easy meal prep. Simply toss cubed, extra-firm tofu pieces with oil, soy sauce, and preferred seasonings. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes until chewy or crispy, depending on thickness. Then add the ready-to-eat baked tofu to your meals all week!

For a fast weeknight dinner, cook up a quick tofu veggie stir fry. Slice extra firm tofu into cubes and sear in an oiled pan over high heat until crispy. Mix in sliced bell peppers, broccoli, and onions and sauté for a few more minutes. Finish with a splash of soy sauce, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Serve piping hot over brown rice or quinoa. Delish!

Is Tofu Bad for Men?

Is tofu good for man?

What about all the guys hesitant to eat “girly” soy foods? Does adding more phytoestrogen-rich tofu pose any risks to masculine health? Or can men safely reap the nutritional benefits, too? Plenty of misconceptions exist on the subject.
Some men avoid tofu and other soy products, fearing the phytoestrogens may lower testosterone levels.

When isolated at very high levels in supplements, soy isoflavones significantly impact hormones. But you would need to eat large amounts of soy foods daily for any harmful effects.

Asian populations with high lifelong soy food consumption show perfectly normal fertility and cancer rates. The only limit seems to be 100mg of isolated soy isoflavones daily - equal to 4 servings of extra-firm tofu. Sticking within moderate portions causes no issues.

Unless medically contraindicated or soy allergies exist, men stand to benefit from adding a couple of servings of whole soy foods daily.

Healthy Tofu Recipes

Let’s finish off with some mouthwatering ways to start cooking with tofu today! Try out these delicious, nutritious recipes:

Chef's Will’s Tofu Scramble with Vegetables (Breakfast)

This vibrant tofu scramble recipe from Whole Harvest Executive Chef Will Harris delivers an explosion of flavors and textures to energize your morning.

Chef Will expertly combines crumbled tofu with a medley of fresh veggies sautéed in cozy spices and herbs. Served atop whole-grain toast, it makes for a gratifying, feel-good way to start your day.

The tofu offers a mild, silky texture that soaks up the vegetable flavors to create a protein-packed base. Turmeric and cumin lend an earthy essence and beautiful golden color. Overall, this scramble marries wholesome nutrition from tofu and veggies with comforting flavors for a recipe plant-based eaters will love.


  • 1/2 block firm tofu, crumbled
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp each: turmeric, cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 slices whole grain bread


  1. Sauté onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic over medium heat until tender.

  2. Add crumbled tofu and spices; cook until tofu is heated through and slightly browned.

  3. Toast whole grain bread to desired crispiness.

  4. Serve veggie tofu and scramble generously atop the toast. Enjoy!

Bonus: Dessert Option. Chocolate Tofu Pudding

Tofu Dessert Option

Satisfy your sweet tooth cravings without the added sugar or dairy! This rich and creamy chocolate pudding is made with silken tofu, making it a delicious and high-protein snack that you will crave.

See video here.


  • 2 cups of silken or soft tofu
  • ¼ cup of high-quality cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 4 pitted dates
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • ¼ cup of drinking water or soy milk


  1. Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Use a spatula to mix the contents, ensuring everything is well combined.
  3. If the mixture is too thick, add more soy milk or water to adjust the consistency.
  4. If it's too thin, simply add more tofu. Enjoy!

Soy-Sesame Tofu (Lunch)

For lunch, try this pan-seared tofu recipe from bloggers Todd Porter and Diane Cu marinates cubed tofu in a sweet-savory Asian-inspired sauce. Toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions garnish this simple, flavorful dish.

The hot oil helps crisp and brown the tofu, while the sauce made with ginger, soy, and brown sugar infuses every bite with flavor. In minutes, you have a protein-packed, plant-based main perfect for serving over rice or veggies.

Crunchy Tofu Tacos (Dinner)

Check out the playful tacos from chef Joe Kim combine crispy fried tofu with Korean spices and fun toppings like kimchi and peanuts. The tofu soaks up the chile powder and garlic-ginger marinade while frying for fiery flavor in every bite. Crunchy, meaty texture wrapped in a warm tortilla makes these an irresistible fusion snack.

The crispy-fried tofu soaks up incredible spice flavor for a meaty and fiery plant-based taco filling. Topped with cooling, creamy elements like hoisin and kimchi, these creative tacos make an irresistible fusion snack.

Give Tofu a Try Today!

If exploring all the ways to enjoy tofu yourself seems daunting, Whole Harvest offers an even simpler solution: let us do the cooking for you! Our meal delivery service offers fresh, plant-based dishes featuring nutritious ingredients like tofu.

Skip the hassle of shopping and preparing everything yourself. Instead, choose from our menu of innovative, chef-prepared meals featuring global flavors and nourishing superfoods.

Join our community of food-lovers seeking to take control of their health and incorporate more satisfying, good-for-you options into their daily routine. Choose your menu today and leave the cooking to us!

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