food and nutrition


Question: How much healthier is a tofu pup than a regular hot dog? I recently turned vegetarian, mostly because of compassion for animals, but also because of the health benefits. It's been about three months and I just started getting used to tofu. I'm curious how much healthier tofu pups are for me than regular hot dogs. How is tofu as a substitute for meat? How much should I eat a week? I've heard that tofu isn't as healthy as some lead you to believe, but from my understanding it is very healthy. Could someone please help clear this up? Thanks.

Answer: Tofu itself is a pretty good food, although it is not a whole food. Much of the carbohydrate and fiber has been removed from whole soybeans, leaving a high-fat and high protein food, kind of like meat. But it is sure a lot better than meat: little saturated fat, no cholesterol, no hormones or antibiotics, and nobody had to die to provide it. Unfortunately, when you look at the label for Tofu Pups and most meat substitutes, you find highly-processed foods. Tofu Pups have 25 fat calories out of 60 calories, which means they are 42% fat. That is pretty high. The sodium in one pup is 300 mg, which is off the charts. It should be about 60 mg, the same as the calories. The second ingredient, after water, is soy protein isolate. You find that stuff in most meat substitutes, and it is even added to some types of tofu. I avoid it like the plague. If you eat very much of it, it raises your levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is the same stuff they give cows to make them produce more milk. High levels of it increase our cancer risk. You would do best to stick with whole plant foods like vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains. A few ounces of tofu a day won't hurt. But save the Tofu Pups for rare occasions.

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