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Which is healthier: firm tofu or vegan Quorn pieces?

Which is healthier: firm tofu or vegan Quorn pieces?

Tofu is a traditional vegan favourite for adding protein to stir-fries and salads, but how does it compare nutritionally with Quorn? Dietitian Jennifer Low takes a close look at two similar products

Firm tofu

Tofu, or bean curd, can be firm or silken, and both are made from coagulated soya milk. Firm tofu has a chewy texture and is often used in kebabs, curries and stir-fries. The silken variety has a smooth consistency, great for healthy cheesecakes and smoothies. Plain tofu has a subtle flavour and picks up seasoning and other flavourings, which is why it works well in both savoury and sweet dishes.

The nutritional lowdown

A 125g portion of tofu has just 93 calories, which is half the amount in the same portion of grilled chicken breast, yet it provides almost a quarter of a woman’s daily protein, as well as being low in saturated fat. Plain tofu is also naturally very low in salt. Be careful with versions that come in a sauce or marinade as this can increase salt levels – in some cases giving you almost 2g salt for a 125g serving before any other ingredients have been added to your meal. Check the nutrition labelling before buying.

Tofu also has ‘plant oestrogens’, which research suggests may be useful for women as they can safely emulate the role of the human version of this hormone in our bodies.

Vegan quorn pieces

Quorn has been around for decades as a meat alternative, but the regular version contains egg white, making it out of bounds for vegans. These relatively new vegan Quorn Pieces are made from mycoprotein, a member of the fungi species, and they work really well in stir-fries, casseroles, stews and soups. Once cooked and cooled, you can also add these little chunks to salads. They have a mild taste, so they’re a good complement for stronger flavours, although they won’t absorb these as much as tofu does.

The nutritional lowdown

Quorn is higher in protein than tofu (gram for gram, it has double the amount). This means a 125g portion packs provides almost 50% of a woman’s daily 45g protein needs.

These vegan Quorn Pieces are low in both total and saturated fat, earning them a green traffic light on both counts. They also contain fibre, thanks to the mycoprotein – in fact, the 7g fibre in one portion is more than a quarter of our 30g daily target, so the product can make the nutrition claim that it’s a ‘source of fibre’ – useful as many of us are falling well short of our target.

The verdict

Based on protein content alone, Quorn would have to be the winner. And it also contains more fibre. Tofu is a close contender, though, as it includes plant oestrogens, has a naturally low level of salt and more energy-boosting iron, with 1.5mg per serving, compared with less than 1mg iron in Quorn.

First published: Mar 2018
Last updated: March 1, 2022
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