Let’s first know the nutritional differences between tofu and paneer, to understand why we shouldn’t be comparing them.
Tofu is a plant based protein rich food made from soybean. To prepare tofu, first the beans are soaked, cooked and crushed into a liquid. Tofu is made from soy milk just like cheese is prepared from milk. first the milk is coagulated using a coagulant. The “Whey” (liquid fragment) are strained out during pressing of the newly formed curd and tofu is what you get with whey as the by-product.
100gm serving of tofu offers:
- Calories: app. 76
- Protein: 6-8gm (it’s a complete protein source with all essential amino acids)
- Carbs: 2gm
- Fibre: 1gm
- Fat: 4gm
- Calcium: app. 130mg
- Iron: 5-6mg
Paneer, on the other hand, is prepared from milk and is a common food used in Indian households. It is often prepared fresh at home, or is available in the market in packaged form. To prepare paneer, first milk is boiled, and then lemon/vinegar is added to it.
100gm serving of paneer (low fat to full fat):
- Calories: app. 98 – 289
- Protein: 11 – 14gm (it’s a complete protein source with all essential amino acids)
- Carbs: 2 – 3.4gm
- Fibre: 0gm
- Fat: 4 – 16gm
- Calcium: app. 200mg
- Iron: 0mg
Now to lightly compare the two. Both tofu and paneer are excellent protein sources and are complete proteins with all essential amino acids in them. Paneer though has a higher protein content.
Particular regions in Asia consume tofu and other soy products, whereas in Indian subcontinent, paneer and other milk products are consumed more commonly.
Both are vegetarian foods. But someone opting for Vegan diet can opt for tofu instead of paneer. Also, tofu is a good option for lactose intolerant individuals.
Of course, because they are prepared from different food sources, they have a different taste and texture.
Tofu is a very rich source of iron as compared to paneer. Paneer is a source which is richer in calcium. Overall calorie wise paneer is much higher.
Now, what have we really got out of this comparison?
Is this how nutrition is studied?
Is this how you compare foods? If you do, then what conclusion did you draw?
Just because two foods are protein rich, you don’t compare foods like this. World over food is not consumed on the basis of nutrients alone, but availability and culture. There are many regions in India, who haven’t even heard of tofu, and have been relishing paneer for centuries now.
Another thing which is quite commonly heard is that if you want to go for weight loss, then tofu being a low fat option is best for you. Really? Which nutrition book are you studying?
Is this how weight loss diets are designed?
This means, millions of people who have never heard of tofu or have never consumed it before, can’t lose weight if they consume paneer?
Does the total quantity/calories & quality of your entire day’s food intake matters, or a single food, just because it has few extra calories?
This is not how we compare foods ever. People are just making these stupid comparisons and confusing others. Specially the dumb dieticians and diet websites or channels, do such unnecessary comparisons.
Imagine a dietician telling a Japanese, who has been consuming tofu and other soy products since birth to shift to paneer, as its richer in calcium and protein, and other one telling someone in Punjab, to stop having paneer as it has more fat, and instead shift to tofu, which is a low fat option.
Don’t be surprised, as such recommendations are not uncommon.