When you eat tofu every day, this is what happens to your body

Should you eat tofu every day? Well, tofu is definitely high on the list of foods that are polarizing, likely because of its bland flavor and soft texture. But tofu enthusiasts are quick to point out that it's all about how you prepare the tofu, which takes on the flavor of anything you season it with. Plus there's no end to how many tasty creations you can make with the variety of tofu that's available, whether it's a stir fry with extra firm tofu or a dessert with silken tofu.

In addition to being a versatile kitchen staple, tofu is also super healthy, according to the BBC. It's high in protein, low in calories, and packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthy diet — what more could you ask from a food?

So if you're an enthusiastic fan of team tofu, and you find yourself eating it for at least one meal every day, you might be wondering what impact this is having on your body. So if you're indeed curious about the food, read on to discover the pros and cons of daily tofu consumption.

What exactly is tofu anyway?

Do you remember the first time you encountered tofu? If you didn't know what it was, you might have been confused, as it's not clear right away just what makes up tofu. But it's a pretty simple food, according to Jo Lewin, a registered nutritionist. "Tofu, or bean curd, is a popular food derived from soya," she explained in an interview with the BBC. "It is made by curdling fresh soya milk, pressing it into a solid block and then cooling it — in much the same way that traditional dairy cheese is made by curdling and solidifying milk." After that, the curds are pressed into a block and the whey is tossed, and voila! You have tofu.

So where and when did tofu make its way into people's diets? "Legend has it that it was discovered about 2000 years ago by a Chinese cook who accidentally curdled soy milk when he added nigari seaweed," Lewin continued. After that, it spread into Japan and then eventually to the west in the 1960s, thanks to a widespread interest in healthy eating.

Swapping meat out to eat tofu every day is good for you

Let's face it: Meat tastes good, whether it's in the form of hot dogs, meatballs, a juicy steak, or a fat cheeseburger. That's why Americans eat 50 billion burgers every year, which is enough to circle the earth 32 times — that's an awful lot of burgers!

However, the dangers that come with eating too much red meat are well-documented, and some people might decide that the risks aren't worth it. Fortunately you can replace the meat in your diet with tofu and reap the health benefits, as noted by Vandana Sheth, spokeswoman of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "If we are talking about soy in its whole form such as edamame, tofu and whole soy milk," she shared in an interview with HuffPost"then it is healthier than meat in the sense that soy provides an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals — without the cholesterol and saturated fat found in meat." Sounds like making the choice to cut back on red meat and eat tofu every day is an easy one.

If you eat tofu every day, you may improve your brain health

Are you concerned about developing age-related brain illnesses like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases? If so, there's a chance that committing to the decision to eat tofu every day might help you stave off these mental conditions, according to registered dietitian Megan Ware. "Population studies have indicated that, in regions where people consume more soy, there is a lower incidence of age-related mental disorders," she penned in an article for Medical News Today.

Some research has been mixed on the subject, as noted by Ware, so tofu meals shouldn't be your only armor against memory loss. But additional research has linked brain health and tofu consumption, which is good news if you're looking for any and all ways to maintain brain health. "Findings published in 2017 suggested that soy products may help people with Alzheimer's due to their lecithin content, which helps the body produce the phospholipids phosphatidic acid (PA) and phosphatidylserine (PS)," she continued. "PA and PS play an important role in the functioning of neurons."

If you eat tofu every day, you may decrease your risk for heart disease

According to the CDC, heart disease is the number one killer of people in the United States, causing one out of every four deaths every year. So if you're looking for a way to avoid becoming a part of that statistic, your daily tofu intake can help, as noted by Cathy Leman, a registered dietitian. "Soyfoods boast a nutritional profile that makes them especially appealing to folks interested in eating a heart-healthy diet," she revealed in an interview with Reader's Digest. "Whole soy foods have fiber, contain no cholesterol, and are low in saturated fat." And that's exactly what a healthy diet should look like. 

So what's the mechanism at work that helps tofu be a warrior for your cardiovascular system? "Many experts believe that soy is good for the heart because meta-analyses of the effect of soy on cholesterol have consistently shown that soy protein reduces serum cholesterol," Leman continued. That, in turn, allows your heart to function as best as possible, as high cholesterol puts extra stress on your ticker. Doesn't sound like choosing to eat tofu every day is a bad thing, does it?

Your bones will thank you if you eat tofu every day

One problem that women can face as they grow older is loss of bone density and strength. Fortunately, if you eat a lot of tofu, it's been proven to support bone health, according to a study in Bone Reports. That's good news for women who have gone through menopause, as noted by lead study author Dr. Pamela Hinton. "The findings suggest that all women might see improved bone strength by adding some soy-based whole foods, such as tofu and soy milk, to their diet," she shared in an interview with Medical News Today. "We also believe that soy-based diets can improve metabolic function for postmenopausal women."

You might not even have to eat tofu every day in order to reap the benefits too — just making sure to eat it regularly is key. "Our findings suggest that women don't even need to eat as much soy as is found in typical Asian diets," Hilton continued. "But adding some tofu or other soy, for example, foods found in vegetarian diets, could help strengthen bones."

If you have menopause symptoms, consider making the decision to eat tofu every day

In addition to helping your bone health flourish as you get older, it turns out that eating tofu every day can also help you cope with symptoms of menopause, as noted by Megan Ware, a registered dietitian. "Some research has suggested that consuming soy products may help relieve symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, because of the phytoestrogens they contain," she wrote in an article in Medical News Today. "While symptoms may differ between women, hot flashes appear to be far less common in Asian countries, where people consume more soy." Given how uncomfortable hot flashes, one of the menopause symptoms no one prepares you for, can be, anything you can do to avoid them is helpful.

That's not to say that the decision to eat tofu every day is a magic bullet insofar as menopause symptoms are concerned, but it has been shown to help a little bit, said Ware. "Conflicting results have been produced," she continued. "But there is evidence that consuming soy products that are rich in genistein may help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes."

If you eat tofu every day, you could decrease your cancer risk

One of the scariest diagnoses that you can receive from your doctor is the dreaded C word: cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, over 1.8 million people are expected to develop cancer in 2020 in the United States, and over 600,000 people may pass away because of the disease. 

The good news is that eating tofu every day has been linked to lower cancer rates, as noted by Cathy Leman, a registered dietitian. "In Asia, population studies link soy consumption with reduced breast cancer risk," she explained in an interview with Reader's Digest. "But there, soy is consumed in moderate amounts — one to two servings a day — throughout life." She added that studies of both animals and cells have shown that eating soy can stop tumor growth and slow the growth of cancer cells.

But any anti-cancer properties of tofu should be taken with a grain of salt, as the scientific findings aren't universal, says Leman. "Evidence is too inconsistent to conclude that soy reduces risk of breast cancer," she continued. But hey, choosing to eat tofu every day may be worth a shot!

Have diabetes? Eat tofu every day

If you're one of the 30 million people in the United States who has diabetes, you might be looking for ways to improve your diet, especially because of the complications that can come with the condition. If that's you, consider swapping out meat and eating tofu every day instead — your health may improve, as noted by registered dietitian Megan Ware. "People with type 2 diabetes often experience kidney disease, causing the body to excrete an excessive amount of protein in the urine," she penned in an article in Medical News Today. "Evidence from one study has indicated that those who consumed only soy protein in their diet excreted less protein than those who only consumed animal protein."

In a nutshell, choosing to eat tofu every day may help you take control of your diabetes. "The researchers propose that this could benefit patients with type 2 diabetes," Ware added.

You could protect your heart from exercise-related damage if you eat tofu every day

If you're someone who's extremely active, such as a cyclist, a runner, or a triathlete, you know that it's super important to have a balanced diet that fuels your activities. So given that tofu is packed with lean protein, it's an excellent food to eat often, as noted by Lauren Antonucci, a board-certified sports dietitian. "Runners have higher protein needs than the general public," she shared in an interview with Runner's World. "So they will benefit from consuming more food sources of complete protein." Wondering if you need to up your protein intake? Here are signs you're not getting enough protein.

Additionally, if you eat tofu every day, you could benefit your athletic body in other ways, too. That's because it has plenty of antioxidants that can help you protect yourself against strains, sprains, and injuries. "The more you exercise, the greater the chance for a higher amount of oxidative damage to occur in your body," Antonucci continued, "making antioxidants like isoflavones potentially useful to help combat the damage." Given how much an injury can set you back in your training, tofu can definitely be your friend.

If you want to live longer, you might want to eat tofu every day

For most people, being able to live into old age while remaining as healthy as possible is an important life goal. That's why we watch what we eat, try to get plenty of exercise, limit our alcohol and tobacco intake, and try to get enough sleep.

As it turns out, choosing to eat tofu every day might also help you live a longer life. For one, eating tofu instead of meat can help you lose weight, according to a study in the European Journal of Nutrition. Secondly, a study in The Journal of Nutrition found that swapping meat out for tofu can lower your bad cholesterol and improve your insulin sensitivity. Those two factors combined can prolong your life span — and that's not all, as noted by Lauren Antonucci, a board-certified sports dietitian. "When you eat more plant proteins you also get some nutritional benefits like an increased intake of fiber and certain micronutrients not found in animal protein," she revealed in an interview with Runner's World

If you eat tofu every day, you may improve your kidney function

Are you concerned about your kidney health due to chronic kidney disease, diabetes, or other kidney function issues or risk factors? If so, having tofu on the menu every day just might help you protect those important organs, as noted by Megan Ware, a registered dietitian. "Protein, and particularly soy protein, may enhance renal function, and it could have benefits for people who are undergoing dialysis or kidney transplantation," she wrote in an article in Medical News Today. That's yet another thing that tofu has over meat, making tofu veggie burgers sound better than the alternative. 

This has been proven, too, as many studies have come to the same conclusion. "One meta analysis of nine trials showed a positive effect of soy on some biomarkers of those with chronic kidney disease," she continued. "This may be due to its protein content, but also because of its impact on lipid levels in the blood." Choosing to eat tofu every day sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

You may want to moderate your tofu consumption if you have thyroid issues

Despite the fact that eating tofu every day seems to have a plethora of health benefits, that doesn't mean that everyone should be chowing down on tofurkey roasts and tofu scramble. That's definitely the case if you have an over-active thyroid (hyperthyroidism), according to Kathy W. Warwick, a registered dietitian. "Animal studies have shown that soy ingestion can interfere with radioactive iodine uptake for the treatment of hyperthyroidism," she explained in an article in Medical News TodaySo if you're taking medication for the condition, tofu might stop it from doing its job properly. Talk to your doctor to determine just how much tofu is safe for you to eat.

If your thyroid is happy and healthy, however, chances are you can eat tofu every day with no problem. Just don't make yourself sick of it, and don't eat only soy products to the exclusion of other healthy foods.

Are there too many hormones in tofu to eat it every day?

You've probably heard the news that tofu contains isoflavones, which once ingested can mimic an effect similar to that of the hormone estrogen in your body. And according to Heather Patisaul, a developmental biologist at North Carolina State University, eating too much soy (like 60 grams daily for a month) can have an adverse impact on your estrogen-sensitive systems, including disrupting the menstrual cycle. "Women who have or who are at increased risk of developing breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive conditions (such as ovarian or uterine cancer) should be particularly careful about using soy and should discuss it with their health care providers," she cautioned in an interview with HuffPost.

That said, that's a lot of soy to be eating, which Patisaul said is really going overboard with it. "For people wanting to achieve a reasonably healthy protein intake without experiencing possibly negative effects of soy, there is no need to have soy at every meal or to replace all foods [like milk and cheese] with soy-based ones," she added. So if you eat tofu every day, don't go too crazy with it!

It's possible to be allergic to tofu

Have you ever noticed when reading food labels that they always tell you if the food was manufactured in a facility that processes soy? Or that the food itself contains soy? That's because the FDA requires manufacturers of food to notify consumers of this on the label, as soy is one of the top eight allergens in America, according to the Mayo Clinic. So yes, you can be allergic to tofu, and should watch out for signs you may have a food allergy. If you ever find yourself breaking out in hives, having abdominal pain, wheezing, having skin irritation, or itching around your mouth after eating tofu, consult your doctor immediately. 

Fortunately the condition is less common in some people than others, as noted by Cathy Leman, a registered dietitian. "An allergy to soy is common in children," she revealed in an interview with Reader's Digest. "Most children outgrow a soy allergy, though; carrying it into adulthood is rare." That's good news for adults who eat tofu every day!