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Low-fat filipino tofu dishes 0809

Page history last edited by ecop 13 years, 8 months ago




tofu pictures.doc

Tofu as a low-fat alternative



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Description and Rationale



“Low Fat” Filipino Dishes


Filipinos can be considered poor but they can become very extravagant when it comes to food. During Fiestas, weddings, birthdays, Christmas and New Year and other holiday celebrations Filipinos put attention to food. Dishes like lechon, Igado, Menudo, Fried pork belly etc. are loaded with fat. Traditionally Filipinos are hospitable people and food is a vital part of their hospitality. This tradition is passed down from one generation to another. This is a good tradition. However, when you look at the food set on the table during special occasions majority of the dishes are all meat swimming in oil.


This project is to research on the effect of high fat diet on the health of the Filipinos. Is it a contributing factor to heart disease? Are all kinds of fat bad? Is there an underlying belief that is causing Filipinos to eat more meat than vegetables? Is there cultural reason why Filipinos serve more meat than vegetables during special occasions?


According to the Dept. of Health Statistics heart disease is the No.1 killer in the Philippines. A study done in the Municipality of Victoria, Tarlac shows heart diseases which may include coronary, ischemic, valvular, inflammatory, hereditary and infectious causes as number one killer. Vascular System diseases are second on the list. These are diseases that affect the circulatory system (blood vessels) and may include peripheral artery disease, all types of aneurysms and dissections, atherosclerosis, Buerger’s disease, Reynaud’s phenomenon, and arterial embolism and thrombosis. A frequent diet of fatty and salty food, lack of exercise……contributes to the existence of these diseases.”  Are there other possible diseases caused by high fat diet? Is there any biological effect of high fat diet on the body? The number of people dieing from heart disease alone is on the rise let alone other diseases that can be caused by high fat intake. Are there ways to encourage Filipinos to change their diet to low fat diets? What would be the best ways to communicate the findings of this study to people in the Philippines and the rest of the world? What are some alternative sources of protein that do not contain much fat?


The initial step of this project is to search literature pertaining to the effects of high fat diet among Filipinos whether biological or non biological. Search literature that talks about non fatty substitute for meat as source of protein.  Local people will also be interviewed to find out the reasons why they do not eat tofu more than meat.  The findings will help guide in the experimental phase of the project.


It is hoped that through public education and other food alternatives to high fat diet Filipinos will be encouraged to change from high fat diet to low fat diet thereby reducing the number of people with heart disease. It is also hoped that people will have a better understanding of the different types of fat and their effect on the body so they can lead healthier life style.

The socioeconomic shifts influencing weight gains in the Philippines are similar to those happening globally: Jobs are becoming increasingly sedentary due to continued advances in technology; people are expending less energy doing normal daily activities; and diets are changing. In many countries, including the Philippines, the lowered cost of cooking oil has resulted in people adopting more high-fat diets.





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Common Names and Synonyms


A soybeans/soya bean is the common name. The scientific name of soybeans is Glycine max. Some of the other names for the soy bean are greater bean or edamame Soy has been around for about 5,000 years as a food.





Kingdom: Plantae

Phylum: Magnoliophyta- flowering plant

Class: Magnoliopsida –magnolia

Order: Fabales-legume

Family: Fabaceae-bean family

Subfamily: Faboideae-herb family

Genus: Glycine- legume

Species: G. max- soybean


There are two classes of soy beans Glycine and Soja.  The subgenus soja holds the cultivated G. max (L.) Merrill and the wild G. soja Sieb. & Zucc. Both species are annual.




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Morphology and Physical Description


Plant: soy has varied growth habits either choosing to grow low to the ground or vertically. The low lying plants tend to grow no higher than 7 to 8 inches in height. The vertically growing plants can reach a height of six to six and a half feet.  The stems, pods, and stalk of the soybean plant are covered with a brown or grayish hair. The soy plant is trifoliate meaning it has three leaflets to a leaf.  


 Pod;   The pods of the soybean plant grow in groups of 3 to 4 and are 1-3 inches in length. The seeds inside vary from 2-4 and are around 5 to11 mm in size.   The hull color of the soy bean differs greatly, ranging from black to brown.  The outer hull of the soybean when mature is hard so as to protect the germ inside. The chemistry of the soybean is 60% protein and oil, also one third is composed of carbohydrates.





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Getting Food


Soybeans grow well in climates with hot summers. Soybeans grow well in a climate between 20 °C to 30 °C (68°F to 86°F). The soybean plant grows well in almost any soil type. The soil just has to be of high organic content and the plant will grow nicely.



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The soybean plant reproduces through pollination of its blossoms when it is in the early stages of development. The pollination is done by bees carrying the pollen between the soybean blossoms.




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Environmental Factors




The Philippine government has been trying to introduce the soybean plant to the Philippine grown corps since the 1980’s but there has not been real interest since there is no real use of soybean in the diet of most of the Philippine population. The only products made in the Philippines form soybeans are soy sauce and tofu. This small market makes it necessary that the Philippine companies import beans from the US.



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Origin and Distribution


The soybean originated in the continent of Asia. The origin is obscured but most botanists believe that it originated in china where it was used as a staple food and in medication.  The soybean was brought  to the Philippine islands from China in the 16th century.



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Importance to People


Soybeans are very versatile plant. It is classified as a vegetable and also is used in the production of tofu and soy milk.  The soy plant is a good source of nourishment. It has a lower fat content making it a very good choice for analternative to meat. The nutrients in soy are very high making it a good crop for people to grow since it is versatile but inexpensive to grow. It is a hardy plant that does not need much fertilizer.



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Survivability and Endangered Status


The soybean plant is rather resilient being able to grow in about every soil type provided it has a good warm environment.



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Potential Solutions


Here are possible solutions to reduce the rate of people dying of heart disease.  


Possibility 1 -

Tofu making and/or selling.


hrough research I have found that it is easy and cost effective to make tofu. It is a good source of income for Pilipino people. It is a cheap source of protein and good substitute for meat.





  1. Making tofu is easy and cost effective.
  2. The selling of tofu in the local setting is a good way to generate income for local people. Selling “merienda” type of food along the road is very popular. It is good substitute to barbequed liver, 3 days old chicks or chicken intestines that are popularly sold at stands along roads.
  3. This is a great way for tofu to be readily available to the local communities.
  4. It has no strong flavor that people can flavor it the way they want it.



1. There is low interest in tofu due to lack of knowledge of the benefits it could give.

 2. It is not widely known in many communities.

 3. It has no flavor so the person selling cooked tofu must be knowledgeable in the different flavorings that can be used to enhance its taste. 






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Possibility 2 -


Tofu is not completely foreign to Filipinos. There are some Filipinos eating tofu. Why then does the public not eat tofu more regularly?

This is due to the fact that many Filipinos are not well educated with the nutritional value of tofu and are not adequately informed that it is a good substitute for meat especially for those who are battling high blood pressure.  





  1. With proper education of the public one can help promote better health by including tofu in the daily menu of the family.
  2. With more knowledge the average Pilipino can watch his health so as to avoid heart disease.





  1. Many Filipinos don’t care much about their health just as long as they are happy and satisfied.
  2. They are not receptive when strangers try to explain how their traditional foods are not good for them when they taste so wonderful.

Action step 

I proceeded with this idea by going out into the community and surveying the knowledge of the public and introduced tofu to those who had no knowledge about it. I explained to them the benefits of supplementing pork or beef in their diet with tofu and told them that eating tofu would greatly help their health.

 It surprised me how big the knowledge gap about tofu was between people living in urban and rural areas. People in the city and those who live close to restaurants and markets where tofu is sold know and eat more tofu than those in the outlying areas. What I did was, I brought cooked tofu and let those who have not eaten tofu taste it. The majority of the people who tasted it for the first time said it is very good. They want to eat more of it from now on. Majority of the people I talked to were very receptive and  listened intently while I told them that one of the causes of heart disease is too much fat and cholesterol that are found in red meat. Tofu is a good substitute for meat not only for its nutritional value but also its versatility since you could do just about anything with it. The versatility was what bought most people since they asked what they could do with this new food called tofu. The best thing that went over with people was tofu fried in olive oil and dipped in sauce made with soy sauce, onion, calamansi and roasted and ground sesame seed.





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