Tofu Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs and Health Benefits of Tofu

firm tofu nutrition facts and health benefits
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Tofu is a plant-based protein made from soybeans. The beans are soaked, cooked, and crushed into a liquid. With the help of a coagulant, the liquid thickens to become tofu. Tofu is low-carb, dairy-free, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and vegan, so it is popular with people who have specialized diets.

There are different types of tofu, determined by the firmness and water content. The more firm, the less water content and therefore, the more calories and nutrients. The more liquid varieties, like silken and soft tofu, have more water in it, and fewer calories, carbs, protein, and fat.  

A popular Asian food, tofu is sometimes known as bean curd. Many people use tofu as a meat substitute because it is high in protein but low in fat and sodium. 

Tofu is extremely versatile. It doesn't have a lot of flavor on its own, and it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. Be sure to calculate the calories in tofu marinade, sauce, or topping when calculating your complete tofu calories.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for a one-quarter cup (or 81 grams) of firm tofu.

  • Calories: 117
  • Fat: 7g
  • Sodium: 18mg
  • Carbohydrates: 2.2g
  • Fiber: 1.9g
  • Protein: 14g

Carbs in Tofu

Tofu is a low carbohydrate food. A typical serving of firm tofu is 1/5 of a package or 79 grams. This contains around 2 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of fiber. 

Fats in Tofu

Compared with other protein sources like beef or salmon, tofu is low in fat. One serving of firm tofu contains around 7 grams of fat, most of which is heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats. While almost half of the calories in tofu come from fat, it is still a low-fat source of protein.

Protein in Tofu

Tofu is an excellent source of protein, with 14 grams per serving. Since tofu is a complete vegetable protein, many people who don't eat meat use tofu as the main protein in a meal. It can be prepared in a variety of different ways to keep it from getting boring. 

Micronutrients in Tofu

Tofu is a good source of calcium and iron. One serving contains 683mg or about 50% of your daily calcium needs and is a good source of iron (around 2.5mg) for your daily iron allotment, which ranges from 8 to 18mg depending on your age and gender. It also contains 237 mg or around 8% percent of the daily recommended serving of potassium, which is 3400mg for adult men and 2600mg for adult women.

Health Benefits

Soy foods like tofu contain isoflavones, a phytoestrogen compound that can mimic the hormone estrogen and may provide certain health benefits including:

  • relief from menopause symptoms
  • prevention of certain cancers including breast and prostate cancer
  • reduced risk of heart disease
  • osteoporosis prevention

A large review of clinical studies found that there is some evidence to support most of these claims, except for osteoporosis prevention. However, several studies have also linked soy consumption to other health problems including headaches and more serious concerns.

The National Institutes of Health suggests that soy is safe for most people when used as a food or taken for a short time as a dietary supplement. They recommend that women who are at risk for breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive conditions should discuss soy products with their health care providers before consuming them.

Common Questions

What are the different types of tofu? 
Tofu comes in four varieties, based on the water content. The more firm, the less water and the more calories and nutrients per serving. 

  • Extra-firm tofu or dry tofu is very firm. It can be fried, grilled or used as a meat substitute in a stir fry. Extra-firm tofu can also be marinated for extra flavor. 
  • Firm tofu comes packaged in water. It can be barbecued, mashed, or crumbled and added to salads. Firm tofu can also be scrambled. 
  • Soft tofu is used in foods that are blended like salad dressings, dips, and soups. 
  • Silken tofu is an undrained, unpressed Japanese-style tofu. It has the highest water content of all tofu types. It is also used in foods that are blended, like smoothies and pudding. 

Where do you find tofu in the grocery store?
You'll find most kinds of tofu in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. Many times it is kept near cheeses. Silken tofu, however, is usually found in the aisles near other vegetarian foods.

Should you refrigerate tofu?
Tofu can be stored in the refrigerator at home although some silken varieties can be kept in the pantry until opening. Once opened, however, you should refrigerate the product and use it within 2 to 3 days of opening. Unopened, you should use the product by the "best by" date on the package. Tofu will have a foul odor when spoiled.

Can you freeze tofu?
Yes, some people freeze tofu to give it a thicker meat-like texture. However, manufacturers suggest that you avoid eating tofu that has been frozen for more than 60 days.

Tofu Recipes and Preparation Tips

Before preparing tofu, open the package and drain the product. You can also press it between paper towels to remove excess moisture. Then, give any of these recipes a try:

Allergies and Interactions

Soy, the main ingredient in tofu, is one of the top food allergens in children and adults. People with hay fever, asthma, or milk allergies are more likely to be allergic to soy products.

Symptoms of soy allergy range from mild, including hives or itching in and around the mouth, to severe reactions including anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.

Certain depression medications (MAOIs) may interact with fermented soy products due to their potentially high level of the amino acid tyramine. People taking MAOIs, such as Nardil or Parnate, should limit tyramine intake to 6 mg or less. One serving of firm tofu can contain between less than 1 mg to close to 5 mg, depending on how long it has been fermenting.

People taking estrogen, certain cancer drugs like Tamoxifen, or the blood thinner warfarin should use also limit soy intake. The phytoestrogens in soy can impact the drug's effectiveness.

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Article Sources
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