Tofu, also known as soybean curd, has long been a popular dish in China. With the growing popularity of plant-based vegetarian and vegan diets, it’s also appearing more frequently on western menus.
Of course, when it comes to new fads, there will always be skeptics, and tofu is no exception. There is still much debate about whether tofu is beneficial or harmful to gout sufferers. Previous research has shown that healthcare professionals have traditionally discouraged gout-prone patients from eating tofu and soy.
The study includes a poll of Asian health professionals, such as nutritionists and doctors. Nearly half of these healthcare experts thought soy foods were a risk factor for gout, according to the research.
However, in recent years, health experts have begun to believe that tofu consumption is not as dangerous as originally believed. Tofu is currently thought to be effective in the treatment of gout symptoms.
In this article, we will take a look at what tofu is, and how it affects the diet of gout sufferers.
What in the world is tofu?
Soy is used to make tofu. Soy milk is extracted fresh and then cold-pressed into tiny blocks. It is deemed edible if it has cooled down sufficiently. For generations, tofu has been a staple of Chinese and Thai cuisines. Tofu has been recorded dating back more than 2000 years!
Tofu, interestingly enough, was discovered by accident! The tofu was first found by a Chinese cook who cooked soy milk. The meal was a huge hit at the time, and its popularity has endured for centuries. Tofu made its way to American shores in the 1960s, and its popularity has since risen on a global scale.
One of the characteristics that distinguish tofu is that it may be incorporated into a wide range of dishes. It can be boiled, fried, or left soft and smooth, and it will keep its distinctive flavor.
In terms of nutritional content, tofu comes packed with them. It contains 9 amino acids (that’s all of them, by the way) as well as a good amount of protein. B1, zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, and calcium are among the other vitamins. Not only that, but tofu absorbs the flavor of the sauce or seasonings with which it is prepared.
Tofu may have a boring flavor to some but make no mistake: it’s a nutritional powerhouse!
Benefits of tofu
Tofu contains plant estrogens, just like other soy-based foods. For many years, people believed that soy increases estrogen levels in the body and caused breast cancer in women. Much of the research that sparked concern, however, focused on the effects of soy on rodents.
The truth is that rats digest soy very differently than humans. Human studies show that tofu does not contain enough plant estrogens to be a risk factor for breast cancer. Furthermore, research indicates that tofu may be beneficial in lowering the risk of this dreadful disease.
Tofu consumption can also provide the following additional benefits:
- Helps reduce hot flashes: According to research, the estrogens found in tofu and other soy-based foods help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes in women going through menopause.
- Coronary artery disease (CAD): Because plant estrogens improve the function of your endothelium, they may reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Helps reduce cholesterol levels: Research shows that if you eat 10 ounces of tofu a day, it can lower your levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol by 5%.
- Helps fight osteoporosis: When estrogen levels drop after menopause, women’s bone mass can deteriorate. Tofu’s plant estrogens help compensate for the loss. Tofu is also high in calcium and vitamin D, both of which are beneficial to bone health.
- Protects against type 2 diabetes: According to studies, people who ate tofu regularly were not likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Tofu isoflavones, which are abundant in soy, may play a role. However, a 2017 study on the benefits of soyfoods for type 2 diabetes found no clear link between tofu and the disease.
The link between your diet and gout
Gout is a kind of inflammatory arthritis caused by high amounts of uric acid in the blood, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Excess uric acid can cause needle-like crystals to develop in joints, most commonly in the big toe, ankle, or knee.
These can produce extreme pain, discomfort, redness, and swelling all at once. Purines are dietary components that raise uric acid levels, increasing your risk of developing gout.
According to reputable institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, people on gout diets should avoid purine-rich foods. Organ meats such as liver, kidney, and sweetbreads, as well as red meat, can fall into this category. Some types of seafood, such as anchovies, shellfish, sardines, and tuna, are also high in purines.
In addition to regular foods, we must also keep an eye out for certain beverages and snacks. Beer and liquor, in particular gin, vodka, whiskey, and rum (but not wine), increase the risk of gout. Additionally, gout patients should avoid consuming too many sugary foods and beverages, such as sweetened cereals, bakery goods, candies, sodas, and fruit juices.
But wait, is there a link between gout and tofu?
Experts now agree that soybean curd (tofu), soy milk, and textured vegetable protein are safe to eat for patients with gout. Soy products did not raise uric acid levels in Chinese postmenopausal women at risk of high blood pressure or diabetes, according to a review published in the European Journal of Nutrition in February 2015.
To assist control gout, other doctors prescribe soybean curd (tofu) and other non-meat protein sources such as nuts, beans, lentils, and dairy. Tofu is said to be healthy because it is strong in protein and low in purines. Other soy foods that people could try include soy nuts, soy protein drinks, soy milk, and edamame.
Gout Diet with Soy Sauce
Purine levels in soy seasonings such as Japanese miso and umami broth have not been proven to be high. However, one purine, in particular, hypoxanthine, accounted for more than half of the purines in these diets, according to the researchers.
For persons trying to manage their gout symptoms, this could be a theoretical concern. This is since hypoxanthine is the purine most strongly associated with high uric acid levels and thus gout risk.
Fortunately, soy seasonings are usually only used in small amounts in cooking. As a result, the risk of gout is almost non-existent. Most persons with gout who use soy sauce as a seasoning in moderate doses don’t have to worry about it hurting their condition.
Is tofu nutritious enough to replace meat?
A prevalent misperception is that vegetarians do not consume as much protein as meat-eaters. Even though veggies are mostly carbohydrates, some vegetables include all of the essential amino acids that your body requires.
Tofu is high in protein, making it an excellent addition to the diet of a gout patient. One small-scale study found that tofu is a better protein source than meat, especially for gout patients with uric acid clearance greater than 6.0 mL/min. Because this study had a small sample size, the implications should be interpreted with caution.
Having said that, there is a growing body of evidence that supports including tofu as an important part of any gout diet. It won’t put you in danger, and it won’t spark a new flare-up. The best part is that you are free to eat as much as you want.
Tofu also protects or, more accurately, aids renal function. This is crucial for all gout sufferers since the improved function can help with uric acid excretion. Gout sufferers are also at a higher risk of having their renal function deteriorate.
Tofu dangers and precautions
If you take MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) for mood disorders or Parkinson’s disease, avoid tofu. Tyramine, an amino acid found in tofu, aids in blood pressure regulation. MAOIs inhibit the enzyme that breaks down tyramine. If you combine the two, your blood pressure could skyrocket.
Tofu’s plant-based soy is harmless, but before using soy supplements, consult your doctor. Their plant estrogen levels are substantially higher, which could cause difficulties.
Always be mindful of your diet
It’s critical to realize that managing gout symptoms and reducing the likelihood of flare-ups requires a cautious and dedicated diet. Eating whatever comes your way will almost certainly have the opposite effect.
Tofu is available in bulk or individual containers. It is available in a range of textures, from soft to extra-firm. It comes in two varieties: refrigerated and shelf-stable. There are also dehydrated, freeze-dried, jarred, and canned options.
The best part is that you can eat as much tofu as you want, in whichever manner you choose. It can be found in a variety of foods, including prepared dishes, salads, and much more. There is no problem, and you can eat whatever.
When eating a meal with a variety of foods, make sure that all of the items are low in purines and that none of them can contribute to a gout flare!