With its nutty flavor and firm texture, tempeh -- made from fermented soybeans that have been pressed into blocks -- works well in a variety of dishes. Eating soy-based foods on a regular basis might offer some health benefits, including a lower risk of some cancers, but the Harvard School of Public health notes that its disease-fighting potential needs further investigation. However, tempeh makes a healthful addition to your diet, because it's rich in protein and other nutrients that maintain your health.
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High in Protein
Add tempeh to your diet to boost your protein intake. Each 1-cup serving of tempeh contains 31 grams of protein, which is 55 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 67 percent for women, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Tempeh contains high-quality complete protein and provides all the amino acids you must obtain from your diet. Its protein content helps you maintain muscle tissue, and also make enzymes your cells need to function. Tempeh's protein is as easily absorbed and utilized as protein from animal sources, such as eggs or meat, so it makes a particularly welcome addition to vegetarian and vegan diets.
Loaded with Copper and Manganese
Add tempeh to your diet and you'll also consume more copper and manganese. A single serving of tempeh provides 930 micrograms of copper, or your entire recommended daily intake, and 2.2 milligrams of manganese, which is more than the 1.8 milligrams required daily for women and 96 percent of the recommended daily intake for men. Both minerals support wound healing and promote tissue strength by boosting collagen synthesis. The manganese in tempeh also helps clear glutamate, a nerve toxin, from your brain, while copper promotes brain cell communication.
Riboflavin and Niacin for Metabolic Support
Tempeh also makes a smart addition to your diet because of its riboflavin and niacin content. It serves as an especially good source of riboflavin, providing 0.6 milligram per serving, which is 55 percent of the recommended daily intake for women and 46 percent for men. Tempeh also provides a significant amount of niacin -- 4.4 milligrams, which is 31 and 28 percent of the recommended daily intakes for women and men, respectively. Both of these vitamins activate enzymes that your cellular metabolism needs to function. Riboflavin also nourishes your skin and eyes, while niacin helps control your appetite.
Tempeh is high in calories, at 320 calories per cup. Each serving contains 18 grams of total fat. While most of this fat comes from beneficial poly- and monounsaturated fats, tempeh's high fat content makes it very calorie-dense, which means you'll consume a large number of calories in a relatively small serving. Monitor your portion size so that you don't accidentally overeat, which can cause weight gain over time. Tempeh also contains 100 milligrams of isoflavones per serving, which are phytonutrients with a chemical structure similar to human estrogen. While these compounds offer some health benefits -- such as a modest, beneficial effect on blood cholesterol -- more research is needed to determine whether they are safe for some individuals, such as breast cancer survivors, notes the Linus Pauling Institute.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Protein: Moving Closer to Center Stage
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Tempeh
- Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension: Protein and the Body
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Soy and Human Health FAQ
- Linus Pauling Institute: Copper
- Linus Pauling Institute: Manganese
- Colorado State University Extension: Water-Soluble Vitamins: B-Complex and Vitamin C
- Linus Pauling Institute: Soy Isoflavones
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Report of the DGAC on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010: Part D. Section 2: Nutrient Adequacy