By Alena Kharlamenko
Many types don't contain gluten—a protein that those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity can't consume. However, certain varieties do.
This article takes a detailed look at what kinds of tofu are safe to eat on a gluten-free diet.
What Is Tofu?
Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made by coagulating soy milk, pressing the curds into solid blocks, and cooling it.
There are several varieties of this popular food. Some of the most common include:
- Extra-firm. A dense type of tofu that's best suited for hearty dishes like stir-fries or chilis.
- Firm. The most versatile variety that can be used for grilling, broiling, or scrambles.
- Soft/silken. A great alternative to dairy and eggs that can be blended into smoothies or used in desserts.
- Prepared. A convenient and ready-to-eat tofu that's usually flavored and can easily be added to salads or sandwiches.
Tofu is often eaten as a plant-based alternative to meats and other animal proteins and is common in vegetarian and vegan diets (1).
It's considered a low-calorie, high-protein food. A 3-ounce (85-gram) serving provides 70 calories and 8 grams of protein (2).
It's also a good source of certain nutrients, including the minerals copper, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Not to mention, tofu contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs, making it a complete protein (3).
Tofu is made from soy and often used as a replacement for animal protein. It's an excellent source of protein and several important nutrients, yet low in calories.
Plain Varieties Are Usually Gluten-Free
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
For the most part, plain, unflavored tofu is gluten-free.
Ingredients can vary between brands, but plain tofu usually contains soybeans, water, and a coagulating agent like calcium chloride, calcium sulfate, or magnesium sulfate (nigari).
All of these ingredients are gluten-free. However, certain varieties may contain gluten, so it's best to read the ingredient label if you're trying to avoid it.
People with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity can't tolerate gluten and need to follow a gluten-free diet. Plain, unflavored tofu is typically gluten-free.
Certain Varieties Contain Gluten
While plain tofu is often gluten-free, some varieties may contain gluten.
Can Be Cross-Contaminated
Tofu can become cross-contaminated with gluten in several different ways, including:
- at the farm
- during processing
- during manufacturing
- at home when cooking
- at restaurants
Tofu is sometimes processed or manufactured in the same facilities as wheat or other gluten-containing ingredients. If equipment is not properly cleaned, it could be contaminated with gluten.
Many brands are certified gluten-free, meaning that a third party has verified the product's gluten-free claim.
For those who are intolerant to gluten or have celiac disease, choosing certified gluten-free tofu may be the safest choice.
Ingredients May Contain Gluten
Some tofu varieties are already prepared or flavored.
Popular flavors of tofu include teriyaki, sesame, stir-fry, spicy orange and chipotle.
Therefore, flavored or marinated tofu that contains soy sauce or other wheat ingredients is not gluten-free.
However, there are some flavored varieties of tofu that contain tamari instead—a gluten-free version of soy sauce.
Tofu can come into contact with gluten during processing or manufacturing. Also, flavored varieties that contain soy sauce or other wheat-based ingredients are not gluten-free.
How to Make Sure Your Tofu Is Gluten-Free
You can take a few steps to ensure the tofu you're eating is gluten-free.
Check the ingredients, especially if buying a flavored or marinated variety. Make sure it has no wheat, barley, rye, or other gluten-containing ingredients, such as malt vinegar, brewer's yeast, or wheat flour.
See if the tofu is marked as "gluten-free" or "gluten-free certified."
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, food manufacturers can only use the label "gluten-free" if the gluten content is less than 20 parts per million (ppm).
Still, a small number of people with celiac disease are sensitive to even tiny amounts. For people who are sensitive to gluten, certified gluten-free tofu is the safest choice (7).
Avoid tofu labeled as "may contain gluten" or "made or shared equipment with wheat/gluten," as it may contain more than the FDA limit for labeling items gluten-free.
Gluten-free brands include:
- House Foods Tofu
- Morinaga Nutritional Foods, which produces Mori-Nu Tofu
- Nasoya Tofu
However, be aware that these brands also produce varieties that are flavored or marinated with soy sauce, which contains gluten.
To ensure tofu is gluten-free, check the nutrition label to make sure it doesn't list soy sauce or other gluten-containing ingredients. Also, look for packages that say "gluten-free" or gluten-free certified."
The Bottom Line
Plain tofu is generally gluten-free, but flavored varieties may contain glutenous ingredients, such as wheat-based soy sauce.
Plus, tofu may become cross-contaminated during processing or preparation. If you avoid gluten, find tofu that is certified gluten-free and doesn't contain glutenous ingredients.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alexandra Rowles
Oregano is a fragrant herb that's best known as an ingredient in Italian food.
However, it can also be concentrated into an essential oil that's loaded with antioxidants and powerful compounds that have proven health benefits.
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By Emily Grubert
Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6bd9fda1316965a9ba24dd60fd9cc34d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3KaMnkmf0tc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
What RNG Is and Why it Matters<p>Most equipment that uses energy can only use a single kind of fuel, but the fuel might come from different resources. For example, you can't charge your computer with gasoline, but it can run on electricity generated from coal, natural gas or solar power.</p><p>Natural gas is almost pure methane, <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/" target="_blank">currently sourced</a> from raw, fossil natural gas produced from <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/where-our-natural-gas-comes-from.php" target="_blank">deposits deep underground</a>. But methane could come from renewable resources, too.</p><p><span></span>Two main methane sources could be used to make RNG. First is <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks" target="_blank">biogenic methane</a>, produced by bacteria that digest organic materials in manure, landfills and wastewater. Wastewater treatment plants, landfills and dairy farms have captured and used biogenic methane as an energy resource for <a href="http://emilygrubert.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/eia_860_2017_map.html" target="_blank">decades</a>, in a form usually called <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biomass/landfill-gas-and-biogas.php" target="_blank">biogas</a>.</p><p>Some biogenic methane is generated naturally when organic materials break down without oxygen. Burning it for energy can be beneficial for the climate if doing so prevents methane from escaping to the atmosphere.</p>
Renewable Isn’t Always Sustainable<p>If RNG could be a renewable replacement for fossil natural gas, why not move ahead? Consumers have shown that they are <a href="https://www.nrel.gov/analysis/green-power.html" target="_blank">willing to buy renewable electricity</a>, so we might expect similar enthusiasm for RNG.</p><p>The key issue is that methane isn't just a fuel – it's also a <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/ghg_report/ghg_overview.php" target="_blank">potent greenhouse gas</a> that contributes to climate change. Any methane that is manufactured intentionally, whether from biogenic or other sources, will contribute to climate change if it enters the atmosphere.</p><p>And <a href="http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar7204" target="_blank">releases</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2019.07.029" target="_blank">will happen</a>, from newly built production systems and <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-methane-emissions-matter-to-climate-change-5-questions-answered-122684" target="_blank">existing, leaky transportation and user infrastructure</a>. For example, the moment you smell gas before the pilot light on a stove lights the ring? That's methane leakage, and it contributes to climate change.</p><p>To be clear, RNG is almost certainly better for the climate than fossil natural gas because byproducts of burning RNG won't contribute to climate change. But doing somewhat better than existing systems is no longer enough to respond to the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2923" target="_blank">urgency</a> of climate change. The world's <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/" target="_blank">primary international body on climate change</a> suggests we need to decarbonize by 2030 to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.</p>
Scant Climate Benefits<p><a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab9335/meta" target="_blank">My recent research</a> suggests that for a system large enough to displace a lot of fossil natural gas, RNG is probably not as good for the climate as <a href="https://investor.southerncompany.com/information-for-investors/latest-news/latest-news-releases/press-release-details/2020/Southern-Company-Gas-grows-leadership-team-to-focus-on-climate-action-innovation-and-renewable-natural-gas-strategy/default.aspx" target="_blank">is publicly claimed</a>. Although RNG has lower climate impact than its fossil counterpart, likely high demand and methane leakage mean that it probably will contribute to climate change. In contrast, renewable sources such as wind and solar energy do not <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/carbon/" target="_blank">emit climate pollution directly</a>.</p><p>What's more, creating a large RNG system would require building mostly new production infrastructure, since RNG comes from different sources than fossil natural gas. Such investments are both long-term commitments and opportunity costs. They would devote money, political will and infrastructure investments to RNG instead of alternatives that could achieve a zero greenhouse gas emission goal.</p><p>When climate change first <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/24/us/global-warming-has-begun-expert-tells-senate.html" target="_blank">broke into the political conversation</a> in the late 1980s, investing in long-lived systems with low but non-zero greenhouse gas emissions was still compatible with aggressive climate goals. Now, zero greenhouse gas emissions is the target, and my research suggests that large deployments of RNG likely won't meet that goal.</p>
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By Charli Shield
When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.
Elephant Burial Grounds<p>Highly social creatures that form deep familial bonds, elephants have long been observed gathering at the site where a peer or family member has died — often spending hours, even days, quietly investigating the bodies or the bones of other dead elephants.</p><p>Although the popular idea that dying elephants are instinctively drawn to special communal graves — so-called "elephant graveyards" — is a myth, their tendency to go out of their way to visit the bones and tusks of the deceased isn't unlike human rituals at graveyards, says animal psychologist Karen McComb.</p><p>"They spend a lot of time touching and smelling skulls and ivory, placing the soles of their feet gently on top of them, and also lifting them up with their trunks," McComb, who's been studying African elephants for 25 years in Kenya's Amboseli National Park, told DW.</p><p>The most striking part of watching an elephant experience loss, Poole recalls, is the quietude. She still remembers one of the first elephant deaths she witnessed; a mother who birthed a stillborn calf. That elephant stayed with its baby for two days, trying to lift it and defending it from vultures and hyenas.</p><p>"I was so struck by the expression on her face and her body. She looked so dejected. It was really like, 'Oh God, these animals grieve…'. It was just so different," Poole told DW. </p>
Witnessing Emotions in Animals<p>Not all scientists are comfortable concluding that elephants grieve. Among the more than 30 reports of elephant reactions to death that Wittemyer co-reviewed in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10329-019-00766-5" target="_blank">a study published in November 2019</a> were accounts of "enormous variation and nuance" he says. "It can be incredibly involved and intricate for extended periods or can be relatively cursory checks."</p><p>In Wittemyer's own experience, it can be difficult not to attribute some kind of emotional experience to the more involved interactions between elephants and their dead.</p><p>He shares the story of an "extraordinary event" involving the death of a 55 year-old matriarch in Kenya in a protected area that happened to be near his place of work. She was visited by multiple unrelated families while she was dying, including another matriarch that exerted such enormous effort attempting to lift her to her feet that she broke her tusk, which Wittemyer says, is "like breaking a tooth." </p><p><span></span>"It was a remarkable example of this heightened emotional state, it was very clearly a very stressful interaction," he says.</p>
A Different Sensory World<p>One factor that limits our ability to fully grasp the way elephants process and respond to loss is our markedly different sensory experiences of the world.</p><p>An elephant's world is fundamentally olfactory — based on smell. Ours is visual. Previous <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25053675/" target="_blank">research</a> has shown elephants possess the most scent receptors of any mammal, and can <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17949977/" target="_blank">use smell</a> to discern the difference between different human tribes from the same local area.</p><p>That could explain why elephants exhibit such interest in sniffing the bones and tusks of others, as a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1617198/" target="_blank">2005 study</a> from McCombs highlighted. When presented with the skulls and ivory of long-dead elephants and those from other large herbivores, including rhino and buffalo, McCombs and her team found elephants approached and were specifically attracted to the remains of their own species. </p><p>Without access to the smells an elephant picks up on, Wittemyer says "an enormous amount of stuff" could be missed by humans when studying these behaviors.</p>
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