Pregnancy is a crucial stage in a woman’s life as it involves the health of the baby too. Pregnancy is a phase in which you become picky about everything you eat. If you are looking for healthy eating options and stumbled upon tofu, you may be not be sure about including it in your pregnancy diet. You may be looking for answers about its safety during pregnancy and this is where we can help you. Tofu, the soy-bean curd is becoming very popular these days and is a widely used food ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisines. It is known to be a rich source of protein. It comes with a lot of benefits especially for vegetarians. But is it safe to eat tofu during pregnancy? Will it harm your baby in anyway? If these questions are bothering you, then read this article to get some answers.
Is It Safe To Eat Tofu During Pregnancy?
It is not uncommon for pregnant women to question any food they put on their plate. In fact, it is very important that they do so, because there are many food items that cause problems during pregnancy, problems ranging from minor indigestion to major risks such as miscarriage. Refer to 10 Foods To Definitely Avoid During Pregnancy and 8 Indian Foods That Can Be Dangerous During Pregnancy for more details.
Now coming back to Tofu. It is safe to eat tofu during pregnancy. However, like all food items, make sure you eat it only in moderation, perhaps one or two serving (one serving is half cup tofu) daily. This is because while Tofu comes with many benefits, it does have few side effects too. Let us consider both:
Benefits Of Eating Tofu During Pregnancy
- Very good source of proteins: Tofu is considered as a very good source of protein because it contains all eight essential amino acids. Around 100 gm of Tofu contains 8 g of protein, which is 16% of the daily requirement. We all know how important protein is for the growth and development of your baby in the womb. So tofu is a good source for this
- Alternate source for Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in more ways than one. It helps in the brain development of the fetus. It also helps prevent blood clots and reduce the impact of bad cholesterol. Now, fishes are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. However, if you are allergic to fish, or do not like its taste, then tofu is a great substitute
- Calcium-rich: 100 gm of tofu will take care of 35% of your daily calcium requirement. That’s nearly half! And calcium is very important for the bone development of your fetus. It also strengthens your bone, as your body goes through a number of pregnancy-related changes
- Strong in other essential metals and minerals: Tofu is also rich in manganese, copper, iron and selenium. Each of these nutrients plays a specific role in pregnancy.
- Manganese helps in relaxing muscles. During pregnancy, it helps in preventing the uterus from contracting prematurely, thereby avoiding the risk of preterm labor
- Copper is important to form red blood cells. This means that you need copper during your pregnancy to develop your baby’s heart and blood vessels. It also helps in skeletal and nervous systems
- Iron helps make extra blood for you and your baby. It also helps in circulating oxygen from your lungs to rest of your body, and also to your child’s body
- Selenium is an important nutrient for the thyroid function
Another important point in favor of tofu is that it has a great texture, and does not have any strong taste. This is good news for pregnant women who are having problems with strong smell and taste.
Risks Associated With Eating Tofu During Pregnancy
As always, there are factors that you need to be careful about consuming tofu during pregnancy:
- Avoid eating tofu if you have problems related to thyroid. This is because tofu contains a substance called Isoflavones which can mimic the action of estrogen in your body. This can interfere with the thyroid function, if consumed in excess quantities. As the fetus depend completely on mother’s thyroid hormone in the first trimester, over consumption of tofu can hence result in serious problems during pregnancy
- Some studies link over consumption of tofu to breast cancer
- There is also some research that connects tofu and other soy products’ consumption during pregnancy to early puberty and infertility in girl child and urological birth problems in boys. However, this has been seen as true only in animal studies and there is no research linking the same effect to humans
In any case, all the above problems are associated only with over consumption of tofu during pregnancy
Looking at the ample benefits, it is a good idea to add tofu in your pregnancy diet. Some of the ways of including tofu are: adding it to your stir fry’s, soups, salads, stuffed paranthas etc. Since it is low in fat, it can be a good substitute for paneer, cream cheese and eggs.
So, in conclusion, our verdict is clear. It is alright to consume tofu, but make sure you do not eat it in excess. Your pregnancy diet should be well-balanced with a variety of food items and not just one. For more details on your pregnancy diet, refer to The Pregnancy Food Pyramid.