2. Tofu nutrition information
Evidence-based nutrition information from licensed dietitians.
It's made from soy (most of the time)
Unlike other whole soy foods like tempeh and minimally processed soy foods like tofu, textured vegetable protein is a processed soy product.
You might think, “Eating a bunch of processed soy food doesn’t sound all that healthy to me.” And you’d be correct, but only because no healthy eating plan should consist of a bunch of processed foods, soy, or otherwise.
Please don’t listen to me; I’m not a dietitian.
For accurate, evidence-based information, I turned to experts on vegan nutrition.
Here’s what they had to say.
Long recognized as a nutrient-dense food, soybeans contain all of the essential amino acids as well as an impressive list of vitamins and minerals like:
- B vitamins
Soy also contains fiber, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids and is an excellent source of protein.
I checked with an expert on vegan nutrition, Anya Todd, MS, RD, LD to know more.
According to Todd, the nutrition in soy foods can vary among different preparations, so a few servings a day are appropriate.
“Soy is perfectly healthy in moderation. Two to three servings of soy foods a day is a safe recommendation.”
Research shows that people who eat one to two servings of soyfoods daily gain many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and specific forms of cancer. (1, 2)
Author and vegan dietitian Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, concurs.
“Don’t be afraid of these foods and don’t ignore them. Plant proteins are good for you.”
Messina places tofu into the "core vegan foods" group, which she recommends including in any healthy eating plan. (3)
Soybeans contain phytoestrogens called isoflavones.
Some people claim that these soy isoflavones act like the female sex hormone estrogen in the body and can potentially increase the risk of cancers — especially breast cancer — and reduce the testosterone levels in men.
But concerns about adverse effects are not supported by the clinical literature available at the time of this writing.
Soy is one of the most researched foods — nearly 2,000 soy-related papers published annually — and based on the health benefits in these epidemiologic studies and the benefits noted in clinical trials, soy is not only safe to eat, but it’s also beneficial when eaten in moderation. (1, 2, 5)
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
Some people will avoid tofu because they are afraid to consume GMOs.
A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been manipulated in a lab using genetic engineering techniques. Scientists alter genes using DNA from different living organisms like bacteria or viruses to get specific traits such as resistance to disease or tolerance of herbicides or pesticides. (4)
Soybeans are the second-largest crop grown in the US after corn and are also one of the top genetically modified crops.
These numbers are significant because even if you're not eating soy foods directly — if you're eating animals — you're most likely still consuming soy. Currently, 85 percent of all GMO soybeans end up in animal feed for farmed animals, where it eventually ends up on your plate.
There are criticisms about the practice surrounding bioengineering and the production of genetically modified organisms. In more than 60 countries worldwide, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on their manufacture and sale.
Here in the US, the government has approved using bioengineered crops. (4)
When buying TVP, unless the product has a specific GMO-free label, then there’s a good chance it’s genetically modified.
Finding non-GMO textured vegetable protein is easy for those looking to avoid GMO soy. Look for the information on the label when purchasing.