Let’s address a question I got asked recently: Is tofu on the paleo diet?
The small and short answer to this question is no. Tofu is made out of soy beans and strictly speaking beans and legumes are not on the list of paleo diet foods. Legumes and grains contain a substance called lectins and lectins cause havoc in our bodies.
“Tofu and tempeh are sources of soy bean agglutinin (SBA). SBA has harmful properties because they break membranes and this can induce increased intestinal permeability which is associated to certain autoimmune diseases and low-grade inflammation.” Source
What this means is that essentially soy is not a fully digestible protein. The lectins in soy beans, SBA, can attach themselves to the cells in your small intestine and then act as a bridge that allows other remnants of gut bacteria to spill into the bloodstream.
Lots of people seem to think that tofu and soy is okay because the Asians eat heaps of it and they are healthier than western people. But that is somewhat a myth. Asians don’t consume as much soy as we think! Remember when it comes to food we have been taught many a myth that we must question. They tend to eat more animal protien and if they do eat soy it is usually tempeh, miso or natto.
These soy products are slightly different as they have been fermented, and the fermentation process does make the soy more digestible. Tofu on the other hand is not fermented and is also a highly processed food.
In saying that, having tofu on the odd occasion, like anything else, is not going to kill you.
However even though I do like tofu, I don’t include in in my diet anymore. Tofu or any soy products are not really a part of the paleo diet. The only soy product I use is in my cooking, a very small amount of tamari – a wheat free, fermented soy sauce product.
Anyway, I hope that answers today’s question: Is tofu on the paleo diet? And as usual, it all comes down to personal preference and how closely you choose to stick to paleo.
P.S. If you’re looking for a great nutrition guide that answers loads of questions just like this one.