Is It Safe To Eat Tofu During Pregnancy?

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You might wonder, can you eat tofu while pregnant? This post will help you answer this question. Tofu is also a rich source of calcium which helps in the development of bones in the body (1). It is a rich source of all essential nutrients that are needed in pregnancy. It is a high protein source that is important for ensuring the proper growth and development of the fetus. Read on to know more about the benefits of having tofu during pregnancy and a few possible side effects.

In This Article

A Closer Look At Tofu

Tofu is a popular vegetarian and plant-based protein source that can provide many essential nutrients for pregnant women, including folate, a key nutrient that supports healthy fetal development and can help prevent birth defects. Tofu is a type of vegan cottage cheese that is made of soy milk. Here’s more information about this highly nutritious food item:

  • Tofu is derived from the milk of soybeans.
Can you eat tofu while pregnant
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  • The gelatinous texture of tofu does not have a flavor of its own. It easily takes the flavor of foods it is mixed with.
  • Tofu is low in fat and can be a good substitute for creamy cheese or eggs.
  • You can enjoy a creamier texture with silken tofu that can also be added to soups.

For vegetarians or mothers on a plant-based diet, tofu can be a convenient and nutritious protein source that can support both maternal health and fetal development. In addition to its nutritional benefits, tofu can be a versatile ingredient in many recipes, making it an easy and delicious addition to a healthy pregnancy diet.

While tofu can be a delicious addition to your recipes, not all mothers love the taste of tofu. Sasikala Balaraman, a mother of two, recalls how she tried sneaking tofu in her pregnancy diet, “I remember trying a couple of tricks to disguise tofu in my food – use grated tofu instead of coconut in veg curries, use tofu in place of paneer. Every time I take my first bite (with masqueraded tofu), my tongue and brain will work against it, and I always used to wrap up my meal just like finishing a medicine. I used to dread food and more so the disguised tofu in it – Oh! those terrible times!! (i)”

Nutritional Value of Tofu

Tofu is a protein-rich alternative to meat that has different types – regular, silken, firm, super-firm, and extra-firm. Below is the list of nutrients 100g of raw and firm tofu can provide and contribute to your overall nutrient requirements during pregnancy (2).

Calcium, Ca683mg
Iron, Fe2.66mg
Potassium, K237mg
Magnesium, Mg58mg
Phosphorus, P190mg
Selenium, Se17.4mcg
Sodium, Na14mg
Zinc, Zn1.57mg
Vitamin A166 IU

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Health Benefits Of Eating Tofu During Pregnancy

Tofu is often considered a complete food as it has all the nine essential amino acids in it (3). According to the USDA’s FoodData Central, 100 gms of tofu contains 9.41 gms of protein (4).

Here is a closer look at the other nutrients:

  • Tofu is rich in copper and iron that must be present in a pregnant woman’s diet. Copper and iron helps in synthesis of hemoglobin in your body (4) (5).
  • It contains calcium in abundance that aids proper bone development in your unborn child. A 100 gms of tofu is said to contain 176 mg of calcium (4).
  • Tofu is a good source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids help prevent cholesterol from clogging your arteries (6).
Tofu may help prevent cholesterol clogging your arteries
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  • It is also a good source of selenium which helps prevent cancers (7) (8).

protip_icon Did you know?
A study found that sprouting reduces phytates and trypsin inhibitors in soybean by up to 56% and 81% and increases the protein content by up to 13% (13).

Negative Effects Of Eating Tofu While Pregnant

Despite the numerous benefits tofu has to offer, you may encounter some negative effects with its excess consumption. Here are some inconveniences caused by consuming tofu during pregnancy:

The soy protein may affect the function of the thyroid gland. Hence, if you have had previous thyroid malfunctions, it is safe to check with your doctor before consuming tofu (9).

However, you need to remember that you can experience these negative effects only when you consume tofu in excess. Eating in moderation can help you reap amazing benefits from the food. Researchers from multiple institutions conducted a study on soy supplementation. The findings reveal that soy has no impact on thyroid hormones and only slightly elevates TSH levels.

Since tofu is made from soybean milk, it is essential you know about the negative effects of having soybean and its derivatives.

  • They are high in phytoestrogens that can cause hormonal imbalances in pregnant women.
  • They contain trypsin inhibitors that inhibit digestion and absorption of protein.
  • They have been linked to breast cancer.
  • They contain lectins that bind to receptors on intestinal cells causing inflammation.
  • They contain antigens that may trigger an immune reaction in people who are allergic to soy.
  • They contain goitrogens that interfere with thyroid function.

protip_icon Point to consider
Tofu contains phytates, which may limit the absorption of minerals such as calcium, zinc, and iron (14).

Eat Well!

Tofu is a rich source of amino acids
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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the recommended amounts of tofu for pregnant women to consume?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consumption of about four to six ounces of soy products, seeds and nuts per week as a plant protein supplement (10).

2. Is it safe to consume tofu that has been frozen or processed?

Soft and silken tofu does not hold texture during the freezing and thawing and is advised to be eaten fresh. Otherwise, frozen tofu is considered safe. Tofu is usually not processed with harmful additives or added salt or sugar. Therefore, it may be safe during pregnancy.

3. How long can tofu be stored in the fridge and still be safe to eat while pregnant?

You can store an unopened packet of tofu in the refrigerator for three to five days. However, if opened, store it in an airtight container with water to make it last for a maximum of five days (and change the water daily).

4. Is there a difference between eating regular and organic tofu during pregnancy?

Organic food usually refers to those grown with fewer pesticides and chemical fertilizers and are not genetically modified (11). A study shows that tofu made from non-genetically modified (non-GMO) soybeans has lower levels of the essential amino acids arginine, phenylalanine, and leucine and higher levels of the non-essential amino acid glutamic than GMO varieties (12).

Tofu is considered to be a complete food. Since it is a rich source of essential amino acids, consuming tofu during pregnancy is good for your and your developing baby’s health. It is also rich in calcium, aiding in the bone development of your baby. However, ensure you consume it in moderation because excessive intake of the soy present in tofu may affect the thyroid gland and lead to complications. Therefore, consult your doctor to understand the right amount of tofu you should consume to be beneficial for you and your baby.

Infographic: A Closer Look At Tofu

Tofu is a nutrient-rich food for vegans which can be used in various dishes or blended with smoothies. If you’re thinking about incorporating tofu into your pregnancy diet, our infographic provides quick facts on this nutritious food to help you make an informed decision.

interesting dietary information about tofu (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

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Key Pointers

  • Tofu is made from soybean milk and is low in fat and flavorless.
  • It contains mono-unsaturated fatty acids that prevent clogged arteries and calcium for bone development.
  • Tofu is a good source of protein, copper, iron, selenium, and nine essential amino acids.
  • In women with thyroid issues, excessive consumption of tofu during pregnancy can cause thyroid malfunction.
  • Tofu may limit the absorption of important proteins and minerals like calcium, zinc, and iron.
can you eat tofu while pregnant_illustration

Image: Dall·E/MomJunction Design Team

Personal Experience: Source


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Calcium and bones.
  2. Tofu, raw, firm, prepared with calcium sulfate.
  3. Do I need to worry about eating “complete proteins”?
  4. Tofu.
  5. Copper.
  6. Choose healthy fats.
  7. Selenium.
  8. Selenium in diet.
  9. Is Soy Bad For Thyroid Function?
  10. Yan Wang et al.; (2021); The association between soy intake and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: a prospective cohort study.
  11. Organic vs. non-organic foods for your child.
  12. Tri Yuni Hendrawat et al.; (2021); Effects and characterization of different soybean varieties in yield and organoleptic properties of tofu.
  13. 13 of the Best Vegetarian and Vegan Protein Sources.
  14. Is There Such a Thing as “Anti-Nutrients”? A Narrative Review of Perceived Problematic Plant Compounds.
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