The health benefits of tempeh are endless. Tempeh is a type of fermented soy product that has become a very popular vegetarian meal replacement today. Regardless of the fact that tempeh is a vegetarian ingredient, it can prove to be a highly nutritious addition to your diet. Tempeh is high in protein, prebiotics, and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, and has a wide range of health benefits. This delicious ingredient doubles up as a versatile vegan food, as well as being a powerhouse of flavor that is easy to prepare. Read on to find out more about the health benefits of tempeh.
What is Tempeh?
Tempeh is a plant-based protein food that was initially found in Indonesia. Traditionally, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans in a process in which the carbohydrates are broken down by yeast and bacteria. Then the soybeans are pressed and combined together to form a dense, cake-type of a patty. Apart from soy-based tempeh, there are also many other types of tempeh, including tempeh manufactured from barley, wheat, beans, or a mixture of wheat and soybeans.(1)
Similar to other soy products such as tofu, tempeh is easily able to take on the flavors of whatever it is being cooked with and can also be seasoned and marinated to boost the flavor. Tempeh, by itself, has a nutty and earthy taste and a firm texture.
Today tempeh is a popular choice of food amongst vegans and vegetarians since it is loaded with many nutrients.
Nutritional Benefits of Tempeh
The health benefits of tempeh are attributed to the presence of many nutrients in this vegan source of protein. Not only is tempeh rich in proteins, but also in vitamins and minerals. At the same time, it is low in sodium and carbohydrate content.
An 84-gram (3-ounce) serving of tempeh is rich in the following nutrients:(2)
- Total Calories: 162
- Protein: 15 grams
- Total Fat: 9 grams
- Carbohydrates: 9 grams
- Sodium: 9 milligrams
- Calcium: 9% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Iron: 12% of RDI
- Riboflavin: 18% of RDI
- Magnesium: 18% of RDI
- Niacin: 12% of RDI
- Phosphorus: 21% of RDI
- Manganese: 54% of RDI
Tempeh also contains other vital vitamins and minerals, such as folate, zinc, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.
Due to the fact that tempeh is more compact than other similar soy products, it is able to provide more protein than many other vegetarian options. For example, 84 grams (3 ounces) of tofu, or about 40 percent of the protein present in the exact same amount of tempeh.(3)
Tempe also makes for an excellent source of dairy-free calcium. One cup of tempeh contains around two-third of calcium, which is found in one cup of whole milk.(4)
Tempeh is a Prebiotic
One of the most essential health benefits of tempeh is because it is a prebiotic. Tempeh is made from fermentation, which is a process that involves breaking down of sugars by yeast and bacteria.(5) Through the process of fermentation, the phytic acid present in soybeans gets broken down. This helps improve absorption and digestion.
Fermented and unpasteurized foods contain probiotics, which are helpful bacteria that provide many types of health benefits when consumed. However, since tempeh is fermented by a fungus and is also cooked before eating, it contains only a minimal amount of bacteria.(6) While tempeh may be providing a minimum amount of bacteria, it is nevertheless rich in prebiotics. Prebiotics are a type of fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.(7)
Several studies have found that prebiotics boosts the formation of short-chain fatty acids in your colon. These short-chain fatty acids include butyrate, which is a major source of energy for the cells lining the colon.(8)
Research has also found that prebiotic supplements can bring about many beneficial changes in the gut microbiota, which is the bacteria that reside in your gut.(9)
Even though studies have found mixed results, many of them have still associated prebiotic intake with reduced inflammation, improved memory, and increased stool frequency.(10)
Weight Loss Benefits of Tempeh
Tempeh is an excellent option if you are looking to lose weight or remain in shape. Tempeh contains 31 grams of protein in each cup, which puts it at part with other animal-based protein sources such as chicken or fish. According to experts, when you are following a diet for weight control, it is important to increase your protein intake, and studies have shown that proteins help reduce appetite, increase metabolism, and also promote feelings of fullness – all factors that support weight control.
Tempeh Boosts Heart Health
Tempeh is also beneficial for the heart health. It is rich in soy isoflavones. Soy isoflavones are a class of compounds that have been widely studied for the beneficial role they play in heart health. According to a review carried out on 11 studies,(11) soy isoflavones can effectively reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol is the bad cholesterol in the body. High total and LDL cholesterol are both a major risk factor for heart disease.
Tempeh is considered to be safe to be consumed for most people. However, those who have a soy allergy should avoid eating tempeh.
Tempeh is a powerhouse of beneficial nutrients that contains a very high amount of protein and many other vitamins and minerals. Some of the other benefits of tempeh may include:
- Reduces cholesterol levels
- Decreases oxidative stress
- Promotes bone health
- Decreases appetite
- Tempeh is also known to contain prebiotics, which helps improve digestion and reduce inflammation in the body.
- This versatile and nutritious food can be a great addition to your diet, especially if you are looking to lose weight.
- Hachmeister, K.A. and Fung, D.Y., 1993. Tempeh: a mold-modified indigenous fermented food made from soybeans and/or cereal grains. Critical reviews in microbiology, 19(3), pp.137-188.
- Nutritiondata.self.com. (2019). Tempeh Nutrition Facts & Calories. [online] Available at: https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4381/2 [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].
- Nutritiondata.self.com. (2019). Tofu, firm, prepared with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride (nigari) Nutrition Facts & Calories. [online] Available at: https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4393/2 [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].
- Nutritiondata.self.com. (2019). Milk, whole, 3.25% milkfat Nutrition Facts & Calories. [online] Available at: https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/69/2 [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].
- Robbins, G.B. and Lewis, K.H., 1940. Fermentation of sugar acids by bacteria. Journal of bacteriology, 39(4), p.399.
- Griese, S.E., Fleischauer, A.T., MacFarquhar, J.K., Moore, Z., Harrelson, C., Valiani, A., Morrison, S.E., Sweat, D., Maillard, J.M., Griffin, D. and Springer, D., 2013.
- Gastroenteritis outbreak associated with unpasteurized tempeh, North Carolina, USA. Emerging infectious diseases, 19(9), p.1514.
- Kuligowski, M., Jasinska-Kuligowska, I. and Nowak, J., 2013. Evaluation of bean and soy tempeh influence on intestinal bacteria and estimation of antibacterial properties of bean tempeh. Polish journal of microbiology, 62(2), pp.189-194.
- Hamer, H.M., Jonkers, D.M.A.E., Venema, K., Vanhoutvin, S.A.L.W., Troost, F.J. and Brummer, R.J., 2008. The role of butyrate on colonic function. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 27(2), pp.104-119.
- Rasmussen, H.E. and Hamaker, B.R., 2017. Prebiotics and inflammatory bowel disease. Gastroenterology Clinics, 46(4), pp.783-795.
- Yu, T., Zheng, Y.P., Tan, J.C., Xiong, W.J., Wang, Y. and Lin, L., 2017. Effects of prebiotics and synbiotics on functional constipation. The American journal of the medical sciences, 353(3), pp.282-292.
- Taku, K., Umegaki, K., Sato, Y., Taki, Y., Endoh, K. and Watanabe, S., 2007. Soy isoflavones lower serum total and LDL cholesterol in humans: a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 85(4), pp.1148-1156.