Tofu and following the low FODMAP diet can get quite confusing and there’s lots of talk as to whether tofu can be consumed whilst on a low FODMAP diet.
In this article we will discuss what tofu is, if it is low FODMAP and clear any confusion that you may have.
Table of Contents
What is tofu?
Firstly, tofu derives from soybeans and is a large component of the Asian and vegetarian diet.
Soy milk is curdled so that it’s proteins become coagulated to form this block of tofu that we know today. It is well known for it’s high protein content, low saturated fat content and calcium availability (1, 2).
Tofu is also flexible and can be very tasty! Although it is quite bland, it is porous, meaning it can go in many dishes as it absorbs flavour easily. Which is why tofu goes well in smoothies, puddings, curries and stir frys.
But that’s not all, continue reading below where I share some top tofu recipes.
What are the health benefits of tofu?
Tofu is a rich source of a variety of vitamins, minerals and protein, needed for maintaining good health. A typical 122g block of tofu contains just 177 calories, 5.3g of carbohydrate, 12.2g of fat, 15.6g of protein, 421 mg of calcium and 3.35g of iron (1).
Tofu is associated with lower incidences of breast cancer in premenopausal women and reduced hot flushes in post menopausal women (1, 9, 10, 11).
When on the low FODMAP diet, legumes are often tricky to navigate due to their high FODMAP content. Therefore, tofu is a suitable alternative whilst not missing out on all the goodness (1, 2).
Is tofu FODMAP free?
Although tofu is made from soybeans which are high FODMAP, tofu itself can be low FODMAP. This is due to it’s processing, so we just need to be mindful of portion sizes (see below).
As the FODMAP content of tofu is altered by the processing during manufacturing, be sure to choose tofu that is pressed over a silken tofu. This is due to pressed tofu containing less galacto-oligosaccharides (a type of FODMAP) (GOS) and water since this was removed during the pressing of the tofu (4, 5, 6).
What kind of tofu is low FODMAP?
Another thing to think about when choosing to consume tofu is the type of tofu. This can easily be missed and lead to worsening IBS symptoms (3, 4). There are a few different types that you may have heard of:
- Silken tofu: silken tofu has less water pressed out of it and has a silk like texture, hence the name. This type of tofu is commonly used in puddings, smoothies and sauces.
- Regular tofu: this is the kind we see commonly in the oriental or health isles of supermarkets. It has been ‘pressed’ to get rid of excess water and form its shape. The plus being that this also reduces the amount of water-soluble GOS.
- Smoked tofu: has a rich, deep flavour of which was flavoured during processing. The smokey flavour is achieved using beech wood.
- Seasoned tofu: pre-seasoned during processing typically with a barbeque or teriyaki flavour. The FODMAP content could be changed because of this.
- Fermented tofu: Fermented tofu is tofu that has been heated, processed using bacteria and then preserved for at least 1 month in a sauce of choice to achieve a particular flavour (see below for more) (1).
On the packets of regular tofu, pressed tofu can be identified when looking for a grading of firmness such as; ‘soft, firm’, ‘extra-firm’ or even ‘super-firm’. The level of firmness can depend on what’s required for a certain recipe or personal preference.
Let’s take a look at what Monash recommend (6):
- 170g of plain tofu
- 160g of firm tofu
Is fermented tofu low FODMAP?
Fermentation is said to reduce the FODMAP content of certain foods, this is because the process reduces the carbohydrate level. The bacteria used in fermentation feed off the carbohydrate to produce metabolites (4).
So, in theory, fermented tofu should be low FODMAP. But, it has not yet been tested to confirm this assumption.
10 Low FODMAP Tofu Recipes
Here are my top 10 low FODMAP tofu recipes…
- Marinated Tofu with Asian Greens & Rice
- Miso & Chilli Tofu Skewers
- Thai Pra Ram Tofu
- Marinated Baked Tofu – 2 Ways!
- Tofu spring rolls
- Scrambled Tofu
- Tofu & Kale Nourish Bowl
- Asian Zoodle Salad
- Vegan French Toast
- Lemon Teriyaki Tofu Stir Fry
Is tofu the same as soy?
Tofu is a soy derived product of soybeans so therefore has similar properties. Tofu is known as a soy protein due to it’s high protein content along with soya mince and soya beans (7).
Find out about soy and the low FODMAP diet in this article.
Certain portion sizes of tofu can be tolerated on the low FODMAP diet and the type of tofu is also very important.
Tofu can be a great substitute for some legumes which may not be advised whilst on the first phase of the low FODMAP diet. It’s also a great chance to get creative with your cooking and try new Asian cuisine.
Article written by Camilla Donaldson BSc Hons Nutrition reviewed by Kirsten Jackson
Kirsten Jackson is a UK registered Consultant Gastroenterology Dietitian and founder of The Food Treatment Clinic. She has undergone many qualifications to get where she is today, including a UK BSc Honours Degree in Dietetics and Post-Graduate Certificate in Advanced Dietetics. In addition to this, she has FODMAP Training from Kings College London University. Kirsten set up The Food Treatment Clinic in 2015 after first experiencing digestive problems herself. She felt that the NHS was unable to provide the support individuals needed and went on to specialise in this area before opening a bespoke IBS service. Kirsten also participates in charity work as an Expert Advisor for the IBS Network. In addition, she can be seen in publications such as Cosmopolitan and The Telegraph discussing IBS as an Official Media Spokesperson to the IBS Network.
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