Tofu (??), also tofu (the Japanese spelling), doufu (the Chinese Pinyin spelling), dubu (from the Korean spelling), toufu, or bean curd (the literal translation), is a food of Chinese origin, made by coagulating soy milk, and then pressing the resulting curds into blocks. There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu that has been processed in some way. Tofu has very little flavor or smell on its own, so it can be used either in savory or sweet dishes, and is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish. Tofu originated in ancient China, but little else is known about the origins of tofu and its method of production. Tofu and its production technique were subsequently introduced into Korea, then Japan during the Nara period. It also spread into other parts of East Asia as well. This spread likely coincided with the spread of Buddhism as it is an important source of proteins in the religion's vegetarian diet. Tofu is low in calories, contains a relatively large amount of iron and contains little fat. Depending on the coagulant used in manufacturing, the tofu may also be high in calcium and/or magnesium. Tofu also contains soy isoflavones, which can mimic natural human estrogens and may have a variety of harmful or beneficial effects when eaten in sufficient quantities.