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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Fitness > November 2019 > ABOUT A SOY

ABOUT A SOY

PLANT-BASED NUTRITIONIST TJ WATERFALL ON HOW TOFU CAN TRANSFORM BOTH YOUR HEALTH AND TRAINING

A staple in Asian cuisine, tofu has been eaten for over 2,000 years as a valuable source of protein, but it only really gained traction in the West in the 1960s. Since then, a curiosity for discovering global cuisines, as well as an interest in healthy, eco-friendly eating, has brought tofu well and truly to the table.

Yet despite its growing popularity, in the world of fitness it’s still overlooked by many as a valuable protein source – perhaps because there’s so much confusion about the nutrition of soy products. Speak to some, and they’ll warn you that tofu will have feminising effects, or even that it’s toxic, you can’t live without. What are we to believe? Can it in fact be a useful tool for improving exercise performance and recovery? A look at the most up-to-date scientific research reveals all…

SOY SUCCESS

Tofu’s forte is that it’s low in calories, but packs an impressive amount of protein. It also has zero cholesterol and a relatively low amount of saturated fat – especially when compared to protein sources from meat and animal products like cheese and eggs. That’s where the ‘displacement’ theory comes in: if soy foods like tofu are used to replace meat and animal products as a protein source, intake of saturated fat and cholesterol can be significantly reduced, decreasing risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death globally.1 What’s more, tofu is a rich source of powerful antioxidant plant compounds called polyphenols, as well as heart-protecting saponins, which have been shown to improve cardiovascular health through independent mechanisms – not just by lowering cholesterol.2

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