Super Food of the Week: Tofu

At one point tofu could only be found in Asian food markets, but now tofu can be found in your local supermarkets throughout the year. This seemingly bland food has the ability to take on the flavor of its surrounding ingredients making it a highly versatile and nutritious part of a heathy diet. Sometimes called “the cheese of Asia”, tofu is a highly nutritious, protein-rich food that is made from the curds of soybean milk. Tofu is usually sold in rectangular blocks and is generally an off-white color and is a staple in the cuisines of many Asian countries. All the good news you may have heard about tofu being a health-promoting food is true. The soybean protein found in tofu yields cardiovascular benefits, antioxidant protection, energy, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits as well as being helpful with symptoms of menopause. Tofu is a great alternative for animal protein for those who may be vegetarians, those with high cholesterol, or anyone looking for a healthier alternative.

Much like last week’s super food, tofu’s main feature is protein, soy protein to be exact. Research on soy protein in recent years has shown that regular intake of soy protein can help lower total cholesterol levels by as much as 30%, lower LDL (which is the bad cholesterol) levels as much as 35-40%, lower triglyceride levels, reduce the tendency of blood platelets to form clots, and possibly even raise levels of HDL (the good cholesterol). All of which sounds very good to people trying to avoid atherosclerosis, or diabetic heart disease. High LDL cholesterol levels can lead to a build of up of cholesterol deposits on the blood vessels. If these deposits get too large or break off, they can cause a heart attack or stroke. Triglycerides can also contribute to these deposits forming as well. Soy protein can address all of these issues and lead to a greatly reduced risk of heart disease. Tofu also contains omega-3 fatty acids. Four-ounces of tofu will yield about 14% of the daily value of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential in the support of a healthy heart.

Soy for menopause? Yes, you heard KinkyShea right! Soy has been shown to be helpful in alleviating the symptoms associated with menopause. Soy foods, like tofu, contain phytoestrogens, specifically the isoflavones, genistein and diadzein. In a woman’s body, these compounds can dock at estrogen receptors and act like very, very weak estrogens. during perimenopause, when a woman’s estrogen fluctuates, rising to very high levels and then suddenly dropping below normal, soy’s phytoestrogens can help her maintain balance by blocking out estrogen when levels raise excessively high, plus filling in for estrogen when levels are low. When a woman’s production of natural estrogen drops at menopause, soy’s isoflavones may provide her with just enough estrogenic activity to prevent or reduce uncomfortable symptoms, such as hot flashes. In addition, most types of tofu are enriched with calcium, which can help prevent bone loss which women are at risk of during menopause. Tofu is considered a good source of calcium with only four-ounces of tofu containing about 10% of the daily value for calcium and containing only 70-90 calories.

In addition to the nutrients mentioned above, tofu plays host to several other nutrients that are helpful for other conditions. Selenium is found in tofu and is needed for the proper function of the antioxidant system, which you may remember from previous foods. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant helpful in not only cancer protection, but in the reduction of asthma symptoms, arthritis symptoms and the prevention of heart disease. Tofu is also rich in minerals for energy. A four-ounce serving of tofu provides 33.8% of the daily value of iron. iron is primarily use as part of hemoglobin, a molecule essential to energy production since it is responsible for transporting and releasing oxygen throughout the body. The synthesis of hemoglobin also relies on copper and without it iron cannot be proper utilized in red blood cells. Luckily, both minerals are supplied in tofu, which also contains about 11% of the daily value of copper.

So can tofu help with your hair health? Sure. We already know that tofu is a great source of protein which is necessary in hair health. But it also packs other hair friendly nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, copper, selenium, and iron. All of which are necessary in the diet to support strong, happy, healthy, and growing hair. Thanks to tofu’s versatility and the ability of it to absorb the flavor of surrounding ingredients, tofu can easily be added to a variety of dishes and prepared in a variety of ways. You can scramble soft tofu together with your favorite vegetables and the spice turmeric to give it a yellow “egg-like” coloring. This can be served as is or used as the basis for “tofu rancheros” by being wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla and served with black beans and salsa. For a healthier stir-fry, stir-fry firm tofu with your favorite vegetables and seasonings. You can even make fried rice using whole grain brown rice and tofu (in place of chicken or pork or even eggs). So try adding soy food to your diet variety, if you haven’t already done so. You may surprise yourself and decided to keep this super food as part of your rotation. I should remind everyone that tofu is a soy based food so if you have a soy allergy you should avoid eating tofu.

Fit Tip of the Week: More Q and A for KinkyShea!

Question: What are the best exercises or types of exercises to do to burn more fat or burn it faster?

Answer: Well first we should rephrase your question.. The question really should be, “What are the best exercises or types of exercises to burn more calories or burn them faster?” Why am I using the word calories instead of fat? Well it’s easier to measure how many calories are burned versus how much fat is burned (in order for me to measure how much fat you‘re burning I‘d have to get pretty “personal” with you). It is known that one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. Its going to be awfully difficult to burn one pound of fat in a day, so what we do is look at the amount of calories burned over an entire week. It is safe to assume that if you burn or create a 3,500 calorie deficit a week (by cutting calories from our diet as well as exercising), you would drop one pound of fat. So really what you’re looking for are the types of exercises that really turn up the calorie burning so we can meet or surpass the goal of 3,500 calories a week to drop a pound of fat. As a side note I should point out that simply burning more calories won’t put you on the path to reaching your goal. You should also maintain a healthy well-balanced, low-fat diet, get plenty of rest and keep a healthy attitude.

So back to the question of which exercise will burn more calories. Well luckily for us, the American Council on Exercise has put together a little chart to help us figure this out. The chart is based on weight and gives the amount of calories burn per minute of exercise. Some of the most common activities are used for the chart. As a rule of thumb the more intense or, the higher the impact of the exercise the more calories will be burned. Keep in mind however that higher impact activities carry a higher risk of injury so it’s best to ease yourself into these activities to avoid injury and alternate between high and low impact activities. Basically put you don’t want to do a high impact activity two days in a row. So if you say take a Zumba Fitness class one day, the next day or next time you exercise you might want to do a lower impact activity for your cardio training such as walking, biking or the using elliptical. So below is the chart I mentioned before. Again its based on weight and how many calories are burned per minute and is a rough estimate. Of course people who are more muscular will burn more calories and other little technicalities, but in general this chart is pretty helpful in answering your question.

(click to enlarge)


Until next week, stay happy and healthy!

KinkySheaPT  

You can find KinkyShea on the CurlFriends section of the forum.