I have been using the tofu spreads as an alternative to light or fat free cream cheese, but I don’t know if I am making the best nutritional decision.
— Jean M.
New York, NY
Great question! Often times, we automatically relegate something made with tofu or soy to the “healthy” category. Are we right to do so?
Let’s consider your question by comparing two tablespoons of regular, low-fat, non-fat, and tofu cream cheese in different categories:
CALORIES: 101 for regular, 69 for low-fat, 29 for non-fat, and 90 for tofu.
SATURATED FAT: 6.4 grams for regular, 5.3 for low-fat, 0.4 for non-fat, and 2 for tofu.
SODIUM: 86 milligrams for regular, 89 for low-fat, 164 for non-fat (remember, if you are completely taking out fat, you need something else for flavor’s sake!), and 115 for tofu.
CALCIUM: Despite popular belief, cream cheese is not a good source of calcium. 23.2 milligrams for regular, 33.6 for low-fat, 55.5 for non-fat, and 60 for tofu. You should aim for 1,000 milligrams (1 gram) per day.
As you can see, they are all pretty equal.
Keep in mind that the average bagel contains 300 – 400 calories and approximately 650 milligrams of sodium (25% of the recommended daily limit).
If you are looking to add some extra nutrition to it, though, I recommend a tablespoon of peanut/almond/cashew butter, which contains protein (which helps keep you full for longer, especially if your bagel is not made with whole grains and therefore lacking this nutrient), heart-healthy fats, and vitamin E in a 94 calorie package.