Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Is Tofu Bad For You?

Also Known As: bean curd



Short answer

Tofu is a good addition to vegetarian or vegan diets as it is a good source of protein. However, tofu may contain endocrine disruptors that can have dire effects on reproductive health. Moderation is best when it comes to tofu, and it is important to seek tofu produced without GMOs.



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Long answer

Tofu, or bean curd, is believed to have been invented during the Han Dynasty in China around 2,000 years ago.  It is thought to have spread throughout Asia alongside the spread of Buddhism because it was a good source of protein for Buddhist vegetarian diets.  Tofu is made by coagulating soy milk and pressing the curds firmly into soft, white blocks.  These blocks can be made into a variety of consistencies including soft, firm and extra firm.         

There are many health benefits to tofu, including high calcium content in tofu that is made from calcium sulfate.  Calcium based tofu can be beneficial for bone health. Tofu is also very high in protein, making it an ideal addition to a vegetarian diet because it provides a good substitute to meat protein.  Although tofu contains a high amount of protein, it contains only 88 calories per half a cup, while the same amount contains 10 grams of protein.  Studies indicate that soy protein, the kind found in tofu, can actually contribute to a decrease in bad cholesterol and may even reduce the risk of heart disease. Tofu also contains many good nutrients such as selenium, which is beneficial to cognitive function and a healthy immune system.  Tofu is also rich in Vitamins B6, B2, and B1, nutrients that help metabolize fats and protein.  Vitamin B6 is important for overall health.  Some researchers show that Vitamin B6 can be helpful for patients suffering neurological conditions because it helps the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine.

Though tofu has many beneficial ingredients, it also contains isoflavones, which are a type of endocrine disruptor.  Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that inhibit the healthy production of hormones in the body.  This means that tofu may contribute to unhealthy reproductive system side effects, such as an increased risk of breast cancer because of the elevated levels of estrogen in the blood. This is a highly controversial subject, as many soy-promoters believe that isoflavones can help women during menopause. 

Another controversial ingredient in tofu is soy.  About 90% of the soy grown in the United States is genetically modified.  This means that these soybeans have been genetically modified to resist herbicides. GMO soybean has been linked to infertility.  Since the soybean plants are resistant to herbicide, they are treated with these regularly to prevent crop loss.  Herbicide has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor in the body and may affect reproductive health in both men and women.   

Possible short-term side effects

  • allergic reaction

Possible long-term side effects

  • infertility
  • breast cancer
  • effects from gmos

Ingredients to be aware of

  • isoflavones
  • gmos
  • herbicides


  • great source of calcium
  • great source of protein
  • promotes bone health
  • promotes muscle health
  • may decrease cholesterol levels
  • may reduce risk of heart disease
  • increased cognitive function
  • promotes a healthy immune system
  • helps metabolize fats and protein

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Organic Extra-firm Tofu

  • High in protein
  • USDA Organic
  • Non-GMO
  • Versatile ingredient
  • Heart-healthy option
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Viviana Del Manzano
Published on: 06-05-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Viviana Del Manzano
Published on: 06-05-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

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