7 Amazing Benefits of Tempeh

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The popularity of tempeh is spreading across the world, but before you add it to your diet, there are some things you should know about its role in health and nutrition.

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is a soy product from Indonesia that is made through a controlled fermentation process. While it has been a traditional, staple food in that region for generations, it has only recently become popular in the rest of the world. The rise of veganism has made meat and protein-replacement foods highly desired, and tempeh has consistency and durability that allows it to be manipulated in many different ways. [1]

Tempeh is considered a very healthy food, particularly in relation to gastrointestinal effects and it has a very earthy flavor. However, it is also very good at absorbing the flavors of other foods depending on what recipe you are putting it in. This product is naturally gluten-free, but some producers may not guarantee gluten-free conditions in the processing plants. This soybean product comes in various types, each having different main base ingredients, including soybeans, soy pulp, cassava fiber, black soybeans, peanut press dregs, coconut dregs, barley or oats. [2]

Nutrition Facts

Tempeh, cooked
Serving Size :
Water [g]59.56
Energy 195
Energy [kJ]817
Protein [g]19.91
Total lipid (fat) [g]11.38
Ash [g]1.53
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]7.62
Calcium, Ca [mg]96
Iron, Fe [mg]2.13
Magnesium, Mg [mg]77
Phosphorus, P [mg]253
Potassium, K [mg]401
Sodium, Na [mg]14
Zinc, Zn [mg]1.57
Copper, Cu [mg]0.54
Manganese, Mn [mg]1.29
Thiamin [mg]0.05
Riboflavin [mg]0.36
Niacin [mg]2.14
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.45
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.2
Folate, total [µg]21
Folate, food [µg]21
Folate, DFE [µg]21
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0.14
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]3.4
14:0 [g]0.05
16:0 [g]2.2
17:0 [g]0.05
18:0 [g]0.8
20:0 [g]0.1
22:0 [g]0.2
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]3.75
16:1 [g]0.1
17:1 [g]0.07
18:1 [g]3.48
20:1 [g]0.1
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]2.64
18:2 [g]2.52
18:3 [g]0.12
Sources include : USDA [3]

Tempeh Nutrition

This soy product is extremely beneficial in terms of nutrients, as it is extremely rich in protein, with about 18 grams of protein in every 100 grams of this soy product. It also offers no cholesterol and no sugar, but it does contain roughly 200 calories per 100-gram serving. This meat replacement is also rich in manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, niacin, copper, iron, and potassium. [4]

Tempeh Benefits

The many benefits of tempeh include the following:

  • Promote muscle growth: With such a high level of protein, this food is known to aid muscle health and growth, as well as repair processes throughout the body
  • Probiotic benefits: The probiotic benefits derived from the fermentation process are also impressive, helping to balance your gut health and pH levels [5]
  • Optimize digestion, eliminate constipation, bloating, and cramping
  • Lower cholesterol levels: Studies have found that this soy-derived product can help to lower cholesterol levels and aid in the regulation of blood sugar within the body. [6]
  • Prevent osteoporosis: For women going through menopause, the estrogenic effects of soy can be very helpful, while the high mineral content means better bone strength and a lower risk of osteoporosis as you age.
  • May help prevent cancer and inflammation: Research has linked the consumption of this food with a lower risk of prostate cancer and lower incidence of chronic inflammation due to the presence of genistein, daidzein, and β-sitosterol in it. [7]
Top view of tempeh pieces on a wooden board

Tempeh is a great option for plant-based protein. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

How to Cook Tempeh?

After you buy a cake of tempeh, it’s important to know how to use it.

  • Steaming, marinating or blackening the cake, and then including it in other recipes or dishes as a replacement for meat. [8]
  • Some people also choose to crumble tempeh over salads or soups to boost the protein content.
  • You can also thinly slice it and pan-fry the soy product until it’s crispy.
  • It can be used as a high-protein replacement for meat.
  • It can be added to sauces, curries, stews, and dressings.

Difference Between Tofu and Tempeh

Although both of these vegetarian-friendly products come from soybeans, they aren’t necessarily the same.

  • Tempeh is made through a fermentation process of full cooked soybeans and comes in the shape of a pressed cake. Tofu, on the other hand, is made from curdled soy milk, which is in turn acquired from cooked soybeans that have been pressed and crushed. [9]
  • Tempeh has a stronger flavor and is better at keeping its shape than tofu, and also delivers a higher concentration of nutrients.
  • While tofu remains more popular and readily available, the less popular form of soybeans is considered a healthier option.

Tempeh Side Effects

The phytoestrogens found in soybeans have estrogenic properties, which can have unexpected or even dangerous side effects. Be sure to speak with your doctor before adding this meat replacement to your diet.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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