Sitting cross-legged and covered in blankets, my friend scowled as I opened up the container of tofu and mixed vegetables I had ordered from a local Chinese food restaurant.

"Tofu is nothing but spongy sadness," she said, stabbing her orange chicken with a pair of chopsticks (not how you use them, by the way, but nice effort).

Perhaps my friend's concept of tofu as this horrid, inedible bean-curd-sponge wasn't uncommon a while back. Nowadays, however, everyone seems to be on a health-kick, and, while it can get annoying when people tout their veganhood with upturned noses, it's always a good thing to pay attention to what we put into our bodies.

So, in recent years, tofu has been given a better reputation as a health-filled food. Here's a few reasons you might want to reach for this "vegetarian meat" next time you're at the grocery store.

It Kicks Cancer in the Butt

Free radicals (which, I may note, aren't actually rad) have been linked to cancer; tofu has properties that kill those little punks before they can do any harm. Isoflavone, an antioxidant found to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, is abundant in soy products (like tofu, in case you forgot). 

It Helps Lower Cholesterol

On the surface, tofu-eaters are combatting high cholesterol simply by not reaching for that juicy steak for dinner--but there's more to it than just that. It actually raises your levels of HDL — the Jekyll of the Hyde-like bad cholesterol everyone's worried about. All this will keep your heart healthy and happy.

It Builds You Up

...not exactly emotionally (though, I'm sure chocolate tofu would comfort anyone after a breakup), but with proteins and calcium. Soybeans are a complete protein — meaning they have all their amino acids accounted for.

Not only will this ensure luscious locks and beautiful skin, but it will reduce your risk for arthritis later in life. Bone happy, my friends. 

It Softens PMS and Menopausal Symptoms

Once again, it's isoflavone to the rescue here. By restoring normal hormone levels in your blood, it helps to subside the raging storm of headaches, cramps, and other nasty symptoms associated with menopause and menstruation. Maybe eat some tofu salad instead of fifty Hershey's bars? No? Okay. 

It Reduces Your Risk of Obesity

Tofu has been known to promote weight-loss for good reason--a half a cup contains less than 100 calories and only 5 grams of fat. In addition, the pepsins in fermented tofu help aid in the burning of fat and prevent fat from being stored in the first place. It's like, a really good exterminator--kill the bugs, stop more bugs from popping up where they're not welcome.

How can you add tofu to your diet?

cheese, sauce, meat, vegetable
Sarah Joh

Well, if you're feeling adventurous, you shouldn't be afraid to try your hand at cooking some tofu. If you're a little kitchen-shy, don't worry — most stores sell pre-made tofu, and it's as easy as breaking it up over a salad or stir-fry. Minimal effort yields massive rewards, my loves.