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Robyn Alderton - Soya/Tofu

Reporter: Robyn Alderton

Interviewer: Lisa Hampshire

Friday, 9 April  1999 

Robyn Alderton

Tofu - oyster (mollusc) like mouthfeel, soaks up flavour readily, with a distinctive nutty texture, yet a delicate taste. .

Tofu is the fermented soya bean. It has been given a spotlight recently owing to the high level of phytoestrogens or a group of plant chemicals which have a similar structure to our oestrogens.

The components which are important are the active isoflavones genistein found in soy and lignans found in rye and linseed. The important aspects of these isoflavones decrease the bad cholesterol and increase the good - especially in women.

It appears to have an effect on the two hormone based cancers in men and women - breast and prostate. The Japanese and Finns have a much lower risk of these cancers and heart disease and they believe there is a correlation between the tofu in the Japanese eat and the rye bread in the Finns diet.

Another area these phytoestrogens have a positive effect is the replacement oestrogen which slows the bone mass loss which starts at menopause.

And yet another is the presence of phytoestrognes in the diet smooths out the jerky hormone release at the commencement of menopause and reduces the effect of the hot flush. These plant oestrogens come in their own packets of food which won't add any extra potential health risk unlike the tablet variety.

This little wonder has also shown in theory to have be protective against early onset dementia as it has a role in brain function.

Tofu - is made by grinding cooked soy beans to produce a milk that is then solidified with calcium sulphate. It needs to be purchased in small quantities (enough to last you 4 days at the most) and stored in the fridge in fresh cold water which needs to be changed each day.

Varieties -

silken - very soft and slippery which easily combines into sauces instead of cream. Consistency of mayonnaise.

Soft - is firm enough to slice but with the texture of junket, which required a soft hand when incorporating it into a dish.

Firm - has been well pressed and is often referred to as vegetarian cheese. This can be easily stir fried and will incorporate flavours like ginger & garlic quickly.

Soy sauce does not contain the magical phytoestrogens.

But - the problem is a lot of people in the age group which would benefit from the consumption of tofu find it hard to bring themselves to actually put it in their mouths and eat it.

To slowly wean yourself onto it start with using soy milk into custards and other milk based products like sauces, soups, desserts where you would normally use milk. 500ml a day will meet the current recommendations for a calm menopause.

Choose cereal based products such as breads which include soy, linseed and rye.

Add soy beans (canned ones are already cooked and just need reheating) to casseroles, stir fries and other savoury recipes.

But - very important - don't overdo the soy. Too much will have the same effect of no soy - that is the body will just discard it.

Eat a diet high in variety. Lots and lots of little bits of everything to make us all healthy, - both mentally and physically. Be careful of antibiotics in the diet and make sure you include some live yoghurt as part of your diet

Robyn Alderton, heard fortnightly on "The Morning Show" with Lisa Hampshire...


Date published: 9/04/1999



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