Tofu and a Healthy Heart

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Although cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer in the U.S. with 910,000 deaths annually, it’s also highly preventable with the right diet and lifestyle choices. When it comes to a heart-friendly menu, tofu is one food that just may deserve star billing. Soy foods like tofu have finally earned the respect they merit. After years of carefully reviewing human clinical studies on soy and cholesterol, the FDA finally concluded that diets low in saturated fat that incorporate 25 grams of soy protein a day help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Tofu appears to boost cardiovascular health in several ways. According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, soy foods help lower blood pressure as well as reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Other studies, including one from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, indicate that isoflavone-rich soy foods like tofu may reduce chronic inflammation, which can promote the buildup of dangerous arterial plaque. High levels of inflammation—which doctors measure with a C-reactive protein test—have been associated with a higher risk of stroke and an increased rate of atherosclerosis. In fact, some studies suggest that inflammation may play an even bigger role than cholesterol as a trigger for heart attacks.

It’s great to know that a food as cardio-protective as tofu is also high in protein, low in calories, and inexpensive to boot. And tofu is so versatile, it can be enjoyed by everyone. Imagine a breakfast smoothie powered with silken tofu, or a Southwestern tofu scramble. How about a BBQ tofu sandwich, some tofu “egg” salad on toast, a delicious tofu-pesto lasagna, or even creamy tofu cheesecake? The possibilities are virtually endless. For 100 delicious soy/tofu recipes, visit http://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/soy-tofu/index.html. Here’s to your heart!

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