The Health Benefits of Extra Firm Tofu: A Nutritious Addition to Your Diet

Tofu is an excellent nutritious addition to your diet thanks to its plant-based source of protein. Since it’s dairy, gluten, and cholesterol-free, tofu is ideal for maintaining a specialized diet, including vegan. It is also low in carbohydrates, fats, and sodium. Furthermore, it’s very versatile, especially for people looking for exciting ways to prepare foods following a meat-free diet.

Soy milk from mature white soybeans gets turned into tofu in a process that resembles cheesemaking. The pressing time of tofu creates the different consistencies available.

Extra-firm tofu is the most compact because it has less water, giving it the chewiest texture. It holds its shape well, allowing you to slice or cube it according to the dishes you want to prepare. Use extra firm tofu when you desire a crispy texture. Therefore, it’s ideal for crusting, boiling, pan- or deep-frying, baking, or glazing.

Nutritional Information

The less water contained in your tofu, the more nutrients it contains. Very Well Fit provides the following nutrition facts for a half-cup serving of firm tofu:

  • 181 calories, almost double those contained in silken tofu
  • 11g of fat (2.5 grams are monosaturated, 6.2g are polyunsaturated, and only 1.6g are saturated fats)
  • 17.6mg sodium
  • 3.5g carbohydrates coming from its 2.9 g of fiber
  • Fiber: 2.9g
  • 21.8g of complete protein containing 9 amino acids, meaning it’s a great substitute for meat
  • 861mg of calcium, providing 66% of the daily value
  • 1.5mg manganese, providing 65% of the daily value
  • 21.9mcg selenium, providing 40% of the daily value
  • 3.4mg iron 155 of the daily value

Health Benefits of Extra Firm Tofu

Like all soy foods, tofu contains isoflavones that act like phytoestrogens, attaching to the body’s estrogen receptors. Of course, the firmer the tofu, the more isoflavones it contains. For example, a glass of soy milk contains 28mg, whereas a 3.5oz serving of firm tofu contains 60mg.

Therefore, eating extra firm tofu provides you with several health benefits.

1.     Indications of Menopause Symptom Relief

Some studies suggest that the content of isoflavones in tofu can help relieve some physical and psychological symptoms experienced during perimenopause and menopause, including hot flashes, mood disturbances, and fatigue.

However, several factors can influence how each person’s body reacts to foods rich in phytoestrogen, including the gut microbiome, genetics, and environmental factors.

2.     Protective Antioxidants May Prevent Certain Cancers

Isoflavones are powerful antioxidants that can help protect the body from free radical damage. Evidence from studies shows that isoflavones may protect from some cancers, including breast and prostate.

The higher breast and prostate cancer rates in the U.S. and Europe than in Asia prompted the studies, but scientists say the results are inconclusive.

A 2020 study in China showed that higher soy intake appeared to provide some preventative benefits for breast cancer in Chinese women. Additionally, moderate soy intake was not associated with breast cancer risk.

Also, a research review in 2018 found that a higher soy intake reduces the risk of prostate cancer.

However, researchers emphasize that it’s too early to say these studies and reviews are conclusive, calling for more research.

Some fear that increased isoflavone consumption postmenopausal may increase the risk of cancer. However, according to this article from Healthline, a review by the European Food Safety Authorities of relevant studies doesn’t indicate an increased risk of thyroid, breast, or uterine cancer.

3.     Appears to Support Heart Health

Foods rich in isoflavones have been associated with reduced cholesterol levels, especially of total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Therefore, the less cholesterol you have, the more you reduce your risk of heart disease in men and women.

One study found that those consuming tofu at least once a week had a lower risk of developing heart disease than those consuming it once a month. The study showed that soy milk does not offer the same protection for the heart.

4.     May Prevent Osteoporosis

The high isoflavone content in tofu can also help improve bone health, which could help prevent osteoporosis. Researchers of one study found that soy isoflavones reduced bone loss in menopause by minimizing bone resorption and encouraging bone formation.

5.     Could Help Improve Blood Sugar Management

Studies into how soy isoflavones affect blood sugar levels have generated mixed results, indicating that there is still much to learn about its effects. However, in one study, postmenopausal women saw a 15% reduction in their fasting blood sugar levels and 23% of their insulin levels. Diabetic women also had decreased fasting insulin levels and insulin resistance.

A 2020 review of several studies showed that people who regularly consume tofu are less likely to develop diabetes. Another study found no link between eating tofu and the lowering of blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. More research will hopefully provide answers.

There are several other promising results from several more studies. One study on pregnancy indicated the daily consumption of 1.8 oz. of tofu reduces the risk of developing depression during pregnancy by as much as 28%. Another study found that isoflavones also seem to improve overall brain function and memory in some adults.

Can Everyone Eat Tofu?

Even though tofu is generally safe for most people, some shouldn’t eat it. These include: 

  • Anyone with an allergy to soya should avoid it because the symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening.
  • People with a thyroid condition should minimize their intake because soybeans are goitrogenic.
  • Soy products can also affect the efficacy of blood thinning medication like warfarin. It’s best to consult a doctor.

Indications of higher cancer risks, interaction with certain medications for depression, and increased risk for those with a history of calcium oxalate stones have proven unwarranted.

Tips for Eating Extra Firm Tofu

Tofu is incredibly versatile and can be incorporated into many dishes. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of extra firm tofu:

·      Buy organic if possible, as this ensures a GMO-free product.

· drain the water from the package before cooking with it.

·      If you plan on marinating it before cooking, press the block of tofu with a few paper towels or cheesecloth and then cut it into cubes or slices.  

·      You can also freeze tofu after draining it and pressing it lightly; thawing will give it a spongier texture that absorbs flavor better.

·      You can fry, bake, grill, or steam tofu; the endless possibilities!

Final Take

Extra firm tofu has the highest concentration of all its beneficial ingredients. Use it to gain all its health benefits, whether you’re a vegan or prefer a plant-based diet. Since it holds its shape and absorbs flavors so well, you can also use extra firm tofu to create an endless array of culinary delicacies than using softer tofu.


Is extra firm tofu healthy?

Yes, extra firm tofu is considered to be a healthy food choice. It’s an excellent source of protein and contains plenty of beneficial minerals like manganese, selenium, and iron. Furthermore, it also contains isoflavones that act like phytoestrogens and can provide several health benefits, such as indications of menopause symptom relief. These protective antioxidants may prevent certain cancers, support heart health, prevention of osteoporosis, and improve blood sugar management.

How much extra firm tofu should I eat?

Most studies recommend 1-3 servings (3 – 4 oz each) daily. It’s important to remember that everything in moderation and more is not necessarily better. Too much consumption of anything can have adverse effects on health. If you’re concerned about your intake, consult a doctor or nutritionist.

Can extra firm tofu cause allergies?

Yes, extra firm tofu has the potential to cause an allergic reaction in some people. Symptoms of a soy allergy include hives, itching, swelling, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. If you experience these symptoms after consuming extra firm tofu or any other soy product, seeking medical attention immediately is best.

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