Tempeh truly is a nutritious superfood full of health benefits including good protein and vitamin B12. For vegans, it can be challenging to get enough B12. Beans and lentils are full of good nutrition and have many health benefits but they do not have the essential vitamin B12. Tempeh has the same protein quality as meat and is helpful in reducing cancer, is a powerful probiotic, helps with weight loss and more.
Many have not heard of tempeh and have no idea what this food is.
Tempeh Is an Indonesian Food
Here is a brief description. Tempeh is made from soybeans that have been fermented so they are a vegan source of protein.
It can be compared to tofu as it is an eastern world food. It is often compared to tofu but it has a very different taste and texture. It has a nutty flavor and very easily absorbs flavors from marinades. Tempeh has a very firm texture and doesn’t crumble easily as tofu does.
Tempeh is used worldwide to create healthy vegetarian meals. Its texture and the ease that it takes on many flavors make it a delicious substitute for meat products. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor, which becomes more noticeable as it ages. Because of its nutritional value, even if you are not vegetarian it can be a nutritious addition to your diet.
History of Tempeh
- Tempeh is the only soy food that didn’t originate in Japan, Korea or China.
- It originated in Indonesia before the 16th century; there is mention of the food in Tempe in books written.
- It was first on the island of Java that is where it was first made.
Yes, It Is Made from Soybeans
That fact may have some not wanting to eat it. Wait and learn some interesting reasons that tempeh is a healthy soy food. First what we know is that the Japanese, who eat lots of soy in the form of tofu, have the highest life expectancy in the world. Learn more about the soy story.
Research often says that there are health risks from the consumption of soy. Many of these health risks are from eating highly processed soy, not a whole food form. Most of the soy consumed in the U.S. is highly processed has been cracked, dehulled, crushed, and then a solvent extraction has been used to separate the oil from the bean. Now, what you get is soy flour that has been defatted and processed into a protein isolate. Mostly we will find this soy isolate in low-fat soymilk or the concentrate goes through more processing to create textured soy protein for things like soy burgers. The good news is that tempeh is not created like that; it is a whole food, not an isolate.
So, How is Tempeh Made?
It is made from cooked and fermented soybeans. Soybeans don’t have any noticeable amount of vitamin B12. It is the fermentation process that makes the soy more easily digested and creates vitamin B12.
Tempeh needs a starter added to the cooked soybeans to get the fermentation process started. Then the mixture is left for a couple of days and it becomes cake-like. Often it is formed into a patty like a firm veggie burger. It is made of whole beans that are pressed together which is different from tofu making which is ground up. Look at tempeh and you will see the whole beans which are being held together by the probiotic mold that was used in the fermentation process. In fact, you can make tempeh from other beans too.
What About Vitamin B12?
The common foods to get B12 are animal foods such as meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, and dairy products.
Tempeh has Vitamin B12 which was created in the fermenting process. It is a very special thing to find this vitamin in vegan food!
Our body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells, DNA, nerves, and carry out other functions. Symptoms of B12 deficiency can show up gradually and increase over time. It is important not to overlook this deficiency.
5 Tempeh Health Benefits
1. Helps with Weight Loss From Being High in Protein
There are 31 grams of protein in one cup of tempeh.
Research has shown that getting a good amount of protein into meals may stimulate an increase in metabolism which will help your body burn more calories.
A diet high in protein it helps with increasing fullness and decreasing hunger, it was found in a study.
Also, it was found that soy protein can be just as good as a meat protein for appetite control. In a study, 20 obese men went on a high-protein diet of either a meat-based soy-based protein. The results were after two weeks that both diets led to a decrease in hunger and weight loss. There was no difference between meat or soy protein.
Even high protein soy snacks improved feelings of fullness compared to high-fat snacks in a study.
2. Powerful Probiotic Food to Balance Candida in the Gut
Mostly the main place we think of getting probiotics is in dairy products. So for vegans, this does not work. Good news is that tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and has the benefits of being a probiotic food. Fermented food has microflora in it that creates protection in the intestines and protects it against things like salmonella and E.coli.
Fermented foods help increase antibodies for a stronger immune system and they help reduce sugar and refined carb cravings. Fermented foods are full of probiotics that help treat candida in the gut promoting a healthy digestive system.
Soy-based tempeh is especially rich in probiotics and is more effective than tempeh made from other beans.
3. Helps Lower Cholesterol Naturally
Tempeh made from soybeans contains isoflavones which have been associated with reducing cholesterol.
Eleven studies found that soy isoflavones significantly decreased both total cholesterol levels.
In a study with 42 participants who had a diet with either animal protein or soy protein for six weeks. Those on a soy protein diets had a decreased LDL cholesterol by 5.7%, total cholesterol by 4.4% and decreased triglycerides by 13.3%.
4. Prevents Heart Disease
A study of 6,000 households in Japan found that consuming soy products had a decreased risk of death from heart disease and stomach cancer.
5. Helpful in Cancer Prevention
Soy isoflavone has a preventive effect on cancer. It was found to help decrease estrogen synthesis and modifying metabolism with 12 healthy premenopausal women. It had positive results compared with the control diet in a study published by the American Association for Cancer Research.
It was found that the isoflavones in tempeh have greater antioxidant activity than in just soybeans.
Fermented foods can be a little challenging for those who never eat them; you may get a stomach ache. Eat only a small amount at first.If you have soy allergies or sensitivities you should avoid tempeh. Soy is one of the eight foods that are major allergens requiring identification on food labels.If you have an underactive thyroid you need to watch how much soy you consume as it can interfere with thyroid medication, but only in excess, according to Nutrients review. It is best to wait at least 4 hours after consuming soy to take thyroid medicine says the Mayo Clinic. Soy foods didn’t affect thyroid function in people with healthy thyroids according to 14 studies.
It is highly nutritious because the whole soybean has been used and going through the fermentation process. This makes it high in protein, probiotics, many vitamins including vitamin B12 and minerals. Also, it is low in carbs and sodium. Tempeh is denser than other soy products because it has more protein.3 ounces of tofu contains 6 grams of protein which is about 40% of the protein in tempeh. It is a good source of dairy-free calcium. One cup of tempeh contains about 2/3 of the calcium of one cup of whole milk. Learn all the detailed tempeh nutrients.
Researching to write this article, I learned much about all of the wonderful nutrients and health benefits of tempeh. I went right out and bought some tempeh and I am enjoying creating tempeh recipes, here is the first one I created. Hope you are now inspired to go out and get some tempeh.
“My world revolves around tempeh, I have tempeh every day. Even though there are other dishes, a meal just wouldn’t feel the same without tempeh.” ~ Hendeko, the tempeh coop manager.
Delicious Tempeh Recipes for You
Learn How to Marinate Tempeh with This Recipe – It is important to marinate tempeh for creating very tasty tempeh recipes. It is simple to do and this marinated tempeh is delicious.
Tempeh Sauteed with Ginger and Garlic For a Yummy Dinner – This tempeh sautéed with spices is a super easy dish to add to any vegan dinner. Tempeh is firmer and tastier than tofu with its nutty taste and texture and it is much healthier too making your meal full of easy to digest protein and vitamin B12.
Tasty Tempeh Burgers are Vegan and Gluten-free – These tempeh burgers are tasty and a very good source of protein for dinner. They have all the health benefits with B12. You can make them into burgers with buns or what I do is have them with a salad or steamed vegetables.
Here are a few tofu recipes for you too:
Spicy Asian Shiitake Mushroom Stew with Fried Tofu – Try this very tasty hearty shiitake mushroom stew. It is a wonderful vegan dinner meal.
Tofu Kebabs are Delicious for Dinner and Are Vegan – A great vegetarian addition to a barbecue this summer too especially for those wanting a vegan option.
Fresh Sprout Salad with Tofu for Lunch – This is a simple sprout salad with tofu that is easy and full of nutrients from the vegetables and lots of protein from the tofu.
Tofu with Zucchini & Almond Cream is Delicious – This tofu with zucchini and almond cream recipe was developed for a guest while in India many years ago.
Learn more about some of the healthiest vegetarian foods you will always want to have in your pantry or growing on your deck.
READ: Superfoods – Over 100 of the Healthiest Foods You Should Have in Your Diet and learn more about the variety of Superfoods we think you should have in your diet.