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What is Tempeh? – Benefits, Nutrients Values, How to Make, and More

What is Tempeh?

Tempeh is a product derived from soybeans. It is a fermented food made mainly from soybeans and a fungus Rhizopus.

It is easy to digest and has interesting nutritional content. The presentation is usually in the form of a block or compact cake. And it is that this little great unknown to the general population is an ally of vegetarians and vegans, as it is even more popular than tofu.

Its nutritional benefits, tempeh finds its way to the pantry of homes, tastier than tofu, flavor reminiscent of walnuts.

What are the Benefits of Tempeh?


A soya residue that had discarded during the manufacture of tofu trapped spores produce the characteristic whitish fungus that covers tempeh, discovering when tasting it was edible.

It is presently one of the most consumed foods in that country, and it is widespread for it to prepare at home. A controlled fermentation process does its elaboration from soybeans and the Rhizopus fungus.

In our country, tempeh is becoming increasingly popular thanks to the many benefits to our health. Today we are talking about some that may not be so well known:

1. Source of Health for Your Intestines

  • Tempeh is a fermented food and source of probiotics for our intestines.
  • Fermented foods act by installing beneficial bacteria for our intestines that help control so-called “bad” bacteria and improve our immune system’s microbiota and immune system.
  • The fermentation process also provides a large number of enzymes that facilitate digestion.

2. Reduces Cholesterol

  • Soy isoflavones, which we can also find in tempeh, help reduce LDL cholesterol levels and total cholesterol.
  • Also, tempeh is rich in Niacin. This vitamin (B3) is known to help raise HDL “good” cholesterol levels and lower triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol.
  • The result is a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with excess cholesterol in the blood.

3. Increases Bone Density

  • Tempeh is a food rich in calcium and magnesium, essential for maintaining healthy bones.
  • Another mineral present in tempeh is copper. This trace mineral also plays an exciting role in bone growth. They are supporting the health of connective tissues, a copper deficiency associate with increased bone fragility.
  • Studies conducted at the University of Akron, Ohio, suggest that consuming copper increases the percentage of recovery from bone fractures.

4. Help for Diabetes

  • Tempeh contains 65% of the recommended amount of manganese. People with diabetes observe to have lower than usual levels of this trace mineral.
  • Manganese is involved in the use of insulin, helping to regulate blood glucose levels.

5. Prevention and Growth of Cancer

  • Angiogenesis is a physiological process by which new blood vessels create from existing ones. This process, which is entirely normal and vital for our growth, is also involved in developing tumor processes.
  • The soy isoflavones in tempeh, primarily genistein, and daidzein, seem to hinder angiogenesis, thus reducing tumor growth.

Nutrients Values of Tempeh


Tempeh boasts an impressive nutrient profile. It is high in protein, vitamins, and minerals but low in sodium and carbs.

A 3-ounce (84-gram) serving of tempeh contains these nutrients:

Calories: 162

Protein: 15 grams

Carbs: 9 grams

Total fat: 9 grams

Sodium: 9 milligrams

Iron: 12% of the RDI

Calcium: 9% of the RDI

Riboflavin: 18% of the RDI

Niacin: 12% of the RDI

Magnesium: 18% of the RDI

Phosphorus: 21% of the RDI

Manganese: 54% of the RDI

Because it is more compact than other soy products, tempeh provides more protein than other vegetarian alternatives.

For example, 3 ounces (84 grams) of tofu contains 6 grams of protein or about 40% of the protein in the same amount of tempeh.

Tempeh is an excellent dairy-free source of calcium. One cup (166 grams) of tempeh contains about 2/3 of the calcium in one cup of whole milk.

What is the Origin of Tempeh?

  • Vegetarianism and fermented soy foods have a connection that dates back to ancient times.
  • The first ferments emerged in China more than a thousand years ago, when Buddhists were looking for alternatives to a diet based on meat consumption.
  • Buddhism and its soy products spread to other parts of Asia, including Japan, which already had an ancient local tradition of fermenting fish.
  • Its use has spread to become part of many vegetarians’ diets, not just for its protein content and its unique content in Vit B12.

How to Buy Tempeh?

  1. The offer of vegetarian and vegan food is becoming more extensive in any city and, therefore, foods such as tempeh are now easier to find for anyone in specialized stores.
  2. But this product is so accessible that it can even find in the small organic food sections that already exist in supermarkets and herbalists, different organic stores that are emerging in the neighborhoods, and in oriental supermarkets.
  3. In all of them, it is easy to find tempeh in its various varieties. The most common way to find tempeh is fresh.
  4. And also marinated with soy sauce, in the refrigerated section in small blocks, but it also markets in larger blocks frozen.
  5. When buying it, it is essential to pay attention to the fact that the soybeans are glued to each other, forming a compact block.

How to Make Tempeh at Home?

  1. As it happens in the East, where preparing tempeh at home is a widespread custom, it is becoming more common in our country for lovers of this product to dare to make it at home.
  2. And the truth is worth it because the procedure is relatively simple and manages to save enough money, even if it should acquire the main ingredients, which are not always easy to get: soybean and fungus Rhizopus.
  3. The production process consists of washing the soybeans, cooking them, and then leaving them to soak for about 10 hours (one night).
  4. Later they are peeled, boiled for 45 minutes, and left to cool. Once the soybean treatment does, the beans mix with a little Rhizopus spore culture.
  5. And the mixture pack in plastic bags with holes so that the fungus incubates in the future tempeh block.
  6. For this, it should leave at about 30º for approximately 24 hours, and later it will be ready to eat.
  7. For its conservation, it must consider that it is a perishable food and, therefore, its shelf life is short, so although it can keep for a few days in refrigeration.
  8. It recommends cutting into individual portions and freeze in plastic bags so that it is unnecessary to defrost the entire block of tempeh when you want to consume.

Recipes with Tempeh

The versatility of tempeh makes it a wild product in the kitchen. It only takes a little imagination to use this food in our diet to adapt to any recipe we can imagine.

It can be cut, grated, marinated, ironed, cooked, fried, baked, added to stews, soups, sandwiches, and more.

And, as a sample, we offer you three ideas recommended by dietitian nutritionist  to start introducing tempeh into your menu:

1. Tempeh Pizza


  • The tempeh block is cut horizontally as thin as possible to obtain a base for the pizza, and it bakes for 5-10 minutes.
  • On the other hand, in a pan with a little virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt, sauté vegetables to taste (strips of peppers of different varieties, slices of mushrooms, onion rings), and when they are all done, removed from the fire.
  • A layer of natural crushed tomato place on the tempeh, and the vegetable place with a pinch of oregano and dried fruits to taste.
  • Please put it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes, and serve hot.

2. Tempeh Meatballs


    • Firstly, a couple of minced garlic cloves and half an onion poacher with a little olive oil over low heat.
    • On the other hand, a tablespoon of flax seeds soaks for a little while.
    • Tempeh put in a food processor and crush it together with the onion and garlic, the mixture of flax seeds and water, a sprig of parsley, 70 g of chickpea flour, 60 g of breadcrumbs, two tablespoons of natural crushed tomato, a pinch of oregano, garlic and onion powder.
    • When grinding everything, a dough obtains with which the balls for the meatballs make.
    • Cook in a frying pan with a little virgin olive oil and serve them with a bit of sauce made with crushed natural tomato and basil.

3. Whole Wheat Tempeh Sandwich

  • Cut the tempeh into strips and reserve in a bowl. On the other hand, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil mix with two tablespoons of vinegar, a tablespoon of soy sauce, the juice of half an orange, oregano, and paprika, obtaining a sauce.
  • This sauce poured into the bowl with tempeh strips and left to marinate for a few hours in the fridge.
  • Once the tempeh marinates, it grills until golden brown with very little oil (tempeh needs very little oil to cook). Some lettuce leaves, tomato slices, and a sandwich of whole grain bread assemble with the tempeh.


Tempeh is a nutrient-dense soy product with a rich amount of protein and various vitamins and minerals.

It decreases cholesterol levels, oxidative stress, and appetite while improving bone health. It also contains prebiotics, which may improve digestive health and reduce inflammation.

Nevertheless, those with a soy allergy or impaired thyroid function should limit their intake of tempeh and other soy-based products. For most, it is a versatile and nutritious food that can be an excellent addition to the diet.


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