Should I eat tempeh?

2015-05-21
Time Magazine asked five food and health experts if we should eat tempeh. Four of time said yes. Tempeh goes back ages in Indonesia but the nutty plant protein is fairly unknown in the U.S. Tempeh is mainly used as a meat substitute and it stands up well to the real thing structurally and nutritionally.

David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, finds that tempeh is great for all its nutrients and for the meat it replaces.

Also Kristin Kirkpatrick, manager of wellness nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, believes that tempeh is a good substitute for meat.

So agrees Cynthia Radnitz, professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. She says that tempeh is a popular source of plant-based protein for vegans due to its versatility, great earthy flavor, and overall nutritional value. Tempeh offers all the health benefits of soy without the drawbacks of more processed soy. The fermentation process to produce tempeh makes nutrients like calcium, zinc and iron become more available for the body.

Robert Sorge of the University of Alabama at Birmingham says that soy proteins, as found in tempeh, have anti-inflammatory effects on immune cells. Tempeh contains a decent amount of the isoflavone genistein that is known to have anti-inflammatory and even anti-tumor effects.

Frédéric Leroy of the Research Group of Industrial Microbiology and Food Biotechnology, Belgium, is less optimistic. He believes that tempeh is for uninspired vegans and that there’s not enough evidence to make functional health claims for most fermented foods. I should be noted that Leroy is a member of the board of directors of the Belgian Association for Meat Science and Technology.

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