Tofurkey Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

tofurkey

Erin Ransom (Tofurky Marketing)

Tofurkey is a soy-based product often served at special dinners as an alternative to turkey. Tofurky (without the "e") is a the most well-recognized brand of tofurkey made by Turtle Island Foods, a family company founded in 1980 when the founder started making tempeh from scratch for friends. Their most popular product—a vegetarian and vegan alternative to turkey—debuted in 1995. Although the company is best known for its roast, they also make other meatless products.

Tofurky plant-based roasts come in a few different varieties (for example, some come with vegan gravy and they also have a ham alternative) but the basic roast is made from wheat gluten, tofu, canola oil, and a combination of spices, flavorings, and other ingredients. Inside each holiday roast is stuffing made from brown rice, bread cubes, and seasonings. Tofurkey roasts are easy to find in most grocery stores and make a smart alternative for vegan and vegetarian holiday meals.

Tofurkey Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for approximately 1/5th (147g) of a Tofurky brand roast.

  • Calories: 300
  • Fat: 10
  • Sodium: 670mg
  • Carbohydrates: 19g
  • Fiber: 2.1g
  • Sugars: 2g
  • Protein: 33g


Carbs

According to the USDA, a 147-gram serving of the plant-based roast plus stuffing (which is rolled inside the roast) provides 300 calories and 19 grams of carbohydrate. There are also just over 2 grams of fiber and about 2 grams of sugar. The rest of the carbs in a Tofurky roast are starch.

These nutrition facts do not include data for the gravy, but gravy is included in the package. Gravy adds another 40 calories, 4 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of fiber. The glycemic index of a tofurkey roast is not known.

Fats

Tofurky provides about 10 grams of fat per serving. About 1.5 grams of it is saturated fat. The USDA (or the company website) does not provide information about polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat, but the roast includes expeller pressed canola oil as the fourth ingredient. Canola oil provides both mono and polyunsaturated fats which are considered to be healthy fats.

Protein

Tofurky provides 33 grams of protein per serving. The roast is made from tofu, a plant-based source of protein. And the stuffing is made with brown rice which also provides protein. As a basis for comparison, a single 3-ounce serving of turkey provides about 24 grams. Adding traditional stuffing would boost that number by about 6 grams.

Vitamins and Minerals

A serving of Tofurky roast with stuffing provides about 2.8 grams of iron or about 15% of the recommended daily allowance if you consume 2000 calories per day. It also provides 900 milligrams of potassium or about 20% of your daily needs.

It should also be noted that a serving of the plant-based roast provides 670 milligrams of sodium or about 30% of your recommended daily intake.

Health Benefits

Studies investigating the health benefits of tofurkey specifically are lacking. But there are research studies investigating the health benefits of key ingredients (such as tofu and brown rice). There is also evidence suggesting that choosing a plant-based diet provides health advantages.

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Plant-based diets are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Numerous studies link vegetarian diets, vegan diets, and other plant-based eating plans to improved heart-related outcomes.

For example, a 2018 study in the journal Clinical Cardiology found a plant-based diet reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In the study, subjects following a four-week regimen of raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, and avocado saw improved blood pressure, with systolic readings dropping 16.6 mmHg and diastolic reading lowering by 9.1 mmHg. Patients also had significant reductions in cholesterol levels.

Reduced Risk of Cancer

Some studies have shown people who follow vegetarian and vegan diets have lower rates of cancer. In fact, some research reviews have suggested a 10% to 12% reduction in overall cancer risk.

Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Some research suggests that eating a plant-based diet may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and improve blood glucose control in people with diabetes. For example, a research review published in 2017 concluded that plant-based diets may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, may help to treat diabetes, and may reduce complications of the disease.

Study authors wrote that a diet focused on unrefined carbohydrates, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and plant-based protein can reduce insulin resistance, promote a healthy body weight, and improve blood sugar levels.

Provides Health-Promoting Isoflavones

The tofu in tofurky is a soy food. Soy provides isoflavones, a phytoestrogen similar to the hormone estrogen, and may provide certain health benefits including relief from hot flashes, prevention of certain cancers (including breast and prostate cancer), and the potential for a reduced risk of heart disease.

Provides Antioxidants and Fiber

The brown rice in tofurky is also associated with certain health benefits. This hearty grain contains antioxidants, fiber, and other valuable chemical compounds found in the bran layers. Research has indicated that brown rice is associated with health benefits including improved heart health, weight loss, better digestive health, and improved cholesterol levels.

Allergies

There are several ingredients in tofurkey that may be problematic to people who have certain allergies. Most notably, soy (tofu) is one of the top eight allergens in both adults and children. Tofurkey is made with tofu, but the plant-based gravy and the plant-based cheesecake (which can be purchased in the holiday bundles) also include soy sauce or tofu.

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. People allergic to wheat, beans (legumes), milk, or other foods can have also have an allergic reaction to soy.

Wheat is another common allergy. Those allergic to wheat should avoid Tofurky as wheat gluten is an ingredient. The Tofurky ham roasts are also made with soy and wheat gluten.

Adverse Effects

If you have celiac disease, have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or follow a gluten-free diet for other reasons, this plant-based roast is not going to be a good choice for you because of the wheat gluten it contains.

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

People taking the blood thinner warfarin should use also avoid soy products because it affects the efficacy of the medication. Soy may also interact with the drug tamoxifen, (used in breast cancer treatment), raloxifene, hormonal medications, and some drugs used to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

Lastly, some people (especially women with a history of breast cancer) are concerned about the effects of consuming soy or soy-based products. Health experts who study soy say that breast cancer survivors can safely eat soy as research suggests that soy foods may decrease the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence in women with a history of the disease. However, it is always best to discuss safety issues such as these with your healthcare provider to get personalized advice

Varieties

There are different types of tofurkey plant-based roasts, including ham and turkey. All of the turkey alternative roasts include stuffing (inside the roast), some come with plant-based gravy as a side dish, and the Holiday Feast also includes plant-based cheesecake.

Even though Tofurky is probably the most widely known plant-based turkey alternative, it is not the only brand on the market. Other brands include Quorn, Gardein, 365 (Whole Foods Market), Field Roast, and Trader Joe's.

When It's Best

While plant-based roasts used to be available most often during the holidays, meat alternatives are more widely consumed now more than they used to be so you'll find them in many markets year round.

Storage and Food Safety

After you purchase your tofurkey, keep it frozen until the day before you use it. Then allow it to thaw for 24 hours before cooking it. Tofurkey plant-based roasts can stay in the freezer for up to a year. After thawing and cooking your Tofurky, it should be stored in an air-tight container and consumed within 3-4 days. Tofurky products are pasteurized but the company does not recommend eating any chilled or frozen product without cooking according to packaging instructions.

How to Prepare

You'll roast a tofurkey in much the same way that you would roast a turkey, but it is likely to take less time. After thawing the roast in the refrigerator, you'll place it in a roasting pan in foil. Then you'll want to baste it. The company provides several recipes and suggestions. They say the roast pairs well with veggie broth, minced garlic, a dash of red wine, or herbs like thyme or marjoram. They also provide a soy sauce/olive oil baste, a soy sauce baste flavored with orange juice, or a baste that is flavored with apricot jam. You'll pour half of your baste over the roast.

Cover the roast and cook at 350°F for about 1 hour 15 minutes (longer if the roast was not thawed prior to cooking. Baste again with the remaining baste then cook uncovered for 10 more minutes. Slice and serve.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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