Plant-Based Protein Battle: Tempeh Versus Tofu
You’ve probably heard of the trend that people nowadays prefer plant-based over meat-based protein and you’re probably wondering where all of this is coming from.
How come that more and more people are looking for protein that comes from plants and not from animals?
Protein is one of the three most important macronutrients in your diet, right next to fat and carbohydrates.
They are found in every cell in your body and their role is to make new ones and repair existing ones.
They also protect the body from viruses and bacteria and are a crucial component for your proper growth and building muscle mass.
Knowing the importance of protein, nowadays you can get your protein intake from various different sources – meat, vegetables, nuts, powder, energy bars and so on.
You don’t have to be a weightlifter to have a heavy-protein diet, because this kind of diet will boost your productivity and endurance even if you don’t go to a gym regularly, it can benefit your everyday life.
Those who hopped aboard the vegan or vegetarian train, of course, get their protein intake from plants, most popular sources being tempeh and tofu.
Which one of these do you think would win in a plant-based protein battle, proving itself an all-around better source of protein?
Let’s see here!
THE BENEFITS OF PLANT-BASED PROTEIN
It is a common misconception that when someone decides to become a vegan, vegetarian or have a plant-based diet, they risk of lacking protein.
Every plant has protein in its cell and the most common food we eat that has protein include rice, wheat, potatoes, corn, peas and so on.
As long as you make sure you get enough protein from this type of food your diet will not lack protein.
A little-known fact is that all protein found in animals came from plants.
Elephants, rhinos and giraffes are all very strong creatures and are herbivores, we can’t say for them that they are lacking protein even though their diet is plant-based, can we?
Animal protein has been proven to damage kidneys, damage our blood vessels and is even sometimes linked to cancer.
Generally, people who have a high animal-based protein diet have a shorter lifespan since it’s less healthy than plant-based protein.
People choose a more plant-based diet to improve their health, live longer and can also prevent chronic diseases.
Whey protein is also a popular type of protein, especially for bodybuilders.
Since it’s made from cheese and contains milk, it can cause lactose intolerance so that’s a minus.
Also, it’s not very easy to digest so it can cause bloating as well, so that’s another minus.
Plant-based protein is very easy to digest for people and is packed with vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and phytonutrients.
Amino-acids which are essential for us that our bodies cannot produce is found in plants.
Plant-based protein tends to be lower in calories and fat so it can play a huge part in your goal to lose weight.
WHAT IS TEMPEH AND WHY IT IS GOOD FOR ME?
Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian soy product which is made by binding soybeans into a cake form and is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves.
The fungus called Tempeh starter (Rhizopus oligosporus) is used to make it.
It’s rich in protein, vitamins and dietary fiber and is the only traditional soy food that didn’t come from the Great Chinese cuisine.
Nutritional facts per 100 grams:
- Calories: 193
- Protein: 19g
- Carbohydrate: 9g
- Fat: 11g
- Sodium: 9mg
- Potassium: 412mg
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Although its low on carbs it makes up for it in protein, having more protein than other similar meat substitutes.
Compare equally sized tempeh and tofu and you will find that tempeh has more than double the amount of protein in the same size.
Being so rich in protein, when you eat tempeh you can rest assured that it will last you a long time, making you feel full for a long period of time, thereby naturally helping you control your appetite.
So, you won’t be hungry for a while after a tempeh meal!
This vegetarian substitute for meat can also be created from wheat, or in a combination of wheat and soy.
It has a nutty taste, is dry and chewy, and packed with nutrients – including magnesium, phosphorus and calcium!
Soy-based tempeh is especially full of probiotics! Probiotics prevent diarrhea, reduce bloating and they can help with weight loss!
During a study done back in 2014, an experiment was conducted where 20 people had a high protein diet and where some of them were eating meat-based protein and others soy-based protein.
Both groups reported weight loss and better appetite. If you decide to drop meat, don’t worry – Tempeh is a solid substitude. You will get all the necessary nutrients and benefits of eating meat-based protein.
Do you know what isoflavones are?
They are compounds that soybeans carry and they reduce your cholesterol level.
In an experiment involving mice and tempeh, mice with liver damage were given tempeh.
Tempeh reduced and reversed the damage on the liver. Tempeh is full of those isoflavones who will benefit your health greatly!
Isoflavones have antioxidant benefits that can prevent you to develop diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease by reducing free radicals.
Having so much calcium makes the bones structure more firm and stronger and can be your guard from developing osteoporosis and bones loss.
While here is written all good about tempeh it has a downside that is very important for people allergic to soy, but it is safe nonetheless for most people.
Tempeh can easily be added to your diet since it goes with just about anything and it really makes the dish tastier.
It’s usually seasoned, crumbled, baked and then added to your meal!
All in all, it is an excellent choice for those who want to eliminate meat-based protein fully and those who are looking to enrich their recipes with a healthy plant-based source of protein.
Limit your intake to a moderate amount and you found a new meat substitute which will keep your bones strong, your belly full, your mental-health on top and your cholesterol level low.
WHY SHOULD I EAT TOFU?
Tofu is definitely the most known meat-substitute. It has been consumed in China for over 2000 years and is made by coagulating soy milk and pressing that into white solid blocks that can be from silken soft to extra firm.
Of course, it’s always combined with different ingredients and spices that make it tastier to eat!
There is a popular myth that the Chinese discovered tofu by accidentally mixing fresh soy milk with nigari, which is the part that remains from seawater when salt is extracted from it.
It helps tofu to be firm and keep its form.
Nutritional facts per 100 grams:
- Calories: 76
- Protein: 8g
- Carbohydrate: 1,9g
- Fat: 4,8g
- Sodium: 7mg
- Potassium: 121mg
- Cholesterol: 0mg
It’s very rich in protein, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, fats and carbs. It’s also very calorie-light, measuring 76 calories per 100g.
A drawback for tofu is that it contains antinutrients, for example, phytates which reduce absorption of calcium, iron and zinc.
Keep in mind that cooking soybeans can negate some of these antinutrients.
Sprouting protein will decrease phytates and trypsin inhibitors by up to 56% and 81% respectively.
This is something that shouldn’t be a concern for anyone who has a normal diet that is not based mainly on tofu.
Tofu is somewhat controversial because a large number of soybeans that is used to make it is GMO (Genetically Modified Organism).
GMO hasn’t been proven to be harmful to people, but for those who want to do so can opt for organic tofu.
Don’t give much attention to controversies, they aren’t based on strong arguments, tofu is very safe for consumption.
Remember that if you have any doubts or questions whether tofu is for you, you can always consult with your local doctor.
Tofu helps a lot in bone health by preventing bone loss.
Not only that, but it also helps in weight loss! It improves skin elasticity and reduces wrinkles, so if you want to make yourself a couple of years younger, be sure to add tofu to your diet!
Some people reported also that it helped them with memory and that is has improved their brain capacity.
Like tempeh, tofu is also packed with isoflavones that can activate estrogen receptors in your body, producing effects similar to the hormone estrogen, but with weaker effects of course.
It can also help with preventing heart disease because it contains saponins – compounds that have protective effects for your heart.
A lot of other foods can help with preventing heart disease, you can read more about them here.
Before it’s mentioned that some cancer has been linked to meat-based protein.
Well, tofu can help in the prevention of breast cancer, prostate cancer and cancer of the digestive system.
This research proves that women who eat soybeans at least once a week have about 50% less of a chance of developing breast cancer.
Tofu comes in various shapes and sizes. You can buy it refrigerated or not, jarred, canned and dehydrated.
It’s also quite simple to make at home, given the fact that not many ingredients are needed.
You’ll just need soybeans of course, water and coagulants like calcium sulfate.
Add to that a little seasoning, rinse when you open a tofu block and it’s ready!
You can also place it in water and put it in a fridge and save it for later! Just make sure that you change the water regularly since it can go bad very fast.
If you make it right, it should taste great so then you’ll want to eat it all at once.
When we take everything into consideration, we see that tofu is very protein filled even though it’s very light on calories.
Cooking can reduce its nutritional value, but not in a large amount. It has a lot of health benefits including preventing bone loss, helping with weight loss, keeping your heart from disease, and preventing different types of cancer.
Tofu is also very easy to make at home, so this source of protein is very accessible and is the food you want to make sure you’ve at least tried to implement in your diet.
When we compare tofu to tempeh, where does each stand?
Who will win in the battle?
Let’s have a look!
TEMPEH VERSUS TOFU – WHICH IS BETTER FOR ME?
If you aren’t sure yet which one of these two types of plant-based protein is for you, let’s compare them by some important factors.
Hopefully, then you will have a clear picture of which factor is most important for you.
Generally speaking, the less your food is processed the better.
Tempeh is much easier to make since tofu is made from soymilk, so tempeh requires less processing and fewer steps for it to be ready for eating. When we talk about processing, tempeh wins this round.
Fermentation is a chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria or another microorganism. Fermented food creates good bacteria that your organism needs to digest better.
Tempeh is a better choice here since it’s fermented so you will get all the benefits of fermentation.
Most of the soy-based products are genetically modified, meaning they come from unnatural sources.
Since tofu and tempeh are soy-products, they both have a tendency to be GMO.
Luckily, they are very easy to make at home in your kitchen!
They both absorb the flavor of the ingredients you cook with so both of them can taste amazing!
Do a little searching and you can find awesome recipes online.
Tempeh is a better choice for those who have difficulty in digesting high-protein food like tofu, so it wins in this battle as well.
Fermentation makes the soybeans softer, therefore easier to digest. Your digestive tract will thank you if you opt out for tempeh!
5. Health Benefits
While tofu is high in protein and contains minerals, there is an important thing to take note of here and that is that tofu goes through industrial processing and is made from unfermented soy.
Unfermented soy in large amounts can be dangerous long-term since it contains anti-nutrients which can mess with how your body absorbs nutrients.
6. Nutritional Value
When in comparison we can see that tempeh has a lot more protein than tofu, as well as carbohydrates and fat.
It brings with it more calories, but that means that you will feel full for a longer period of time.
This battle is also won by tempeh.
Obviously, when we take all of these factors into consideration – tempeh is a clear winner, at least for now, who knows what the future will bring.
While both have great health benefits and nutritional value, in order for tempeh to be made, less processing is needed meaning that it comes out as a more organic protein-based product than tofu.
10 OTHER OPTIONS FOR PLANT-BASED PROTEIN
Tofu and tempeh are not the only sources of plant-based protein, not even close! If you want to see what else is out there, here is a list of 10 awesome options for you to make sure you get your daily protein intake!
Great source of vitamin E and can be made easier to digest by soaking them under water overnight. They say a handful of almonds contains the eight of our daily protein needs.
They can play a big part in keeping your blood sugar on the desired level.
2. Bee Pollen
It’s considered an immune system builder that enhances vitality.
It can aid your brain in concentrating harder and making you more alert, so it sure can be an amazing study buddy!
40% of its weigh is protein and it also contains a lot of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and enzymes.
3. Black Beans
They are classified as legumes and they have a large amount of protein just like peas and peanuts. They protect the heart and can strengthen bone structure.
Black beans are also known for lowering blood pressure and managing diabetes.
Rich in fiber means that you will easily digest them. You can just pour these guys over your salad and boom – you decorated your salad with food that is rich in nutrients!
4. Chia Seeds
Make sure to keep these guys refrigerated since they go very bad very fast! They deliver a massive amount of nutrients but pack very few calories.
They have various health benefits and one of them is that they are loaded with antioxidants.
They can be a great substitute for eggs and work well in pudding as well. You can introduce them slowly to your diet, one tablespoon at a time.
5. Coconut Flour
Gluten-free, grain-free and protein packed! It’s made from dry coconut meat and is a natural product of natural milk production.
It’s relatively short on carbohydrates compared to other flours but has a lot of fiber and fat. It’s the mix of fat and protein that makes it filling.
6. Hemp Seeds
These guys come from the same species as cannabis but are a different kind, they don’t contain a large amount of THC which is the psychoactive compound in marijuana.
They are seeds of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. They are very nutritive and a quarter-cup gives you about 50g of protein. They can also help with hormonal balance.
An edible legume, it’s a bushy annual plant known for its lens-shaped seeds. They help you burn fat faster and are a key player for great metabolism.
They are rich in carbohydrates, fiber and even magnesium!
Technically peanuts are not nuts but legumes, along with beans, lentils and soy.
They can be eaten roasted, salted and even as peanut butter.
Of course, to preserve nutrients it’s always better to eat them raw, but even peanut butter sandwiches are a protein powerful healthy snack!
One of the rare plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids.
Quinoa is gluten-free and is high in vitamin B, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium.
It is shown that it can improve metabolic health by reducing insulin and blood sugar.
It’s very easy to add it to your diet and can really help you lose extra weight.
It’s one of the worlds most popular supplements. It’s extremely high in vitamin B, copper and iron and carries healthy antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
It can also reduce the chance for cancer or a tumor to appear and can be effective against anemia.
A huge benefit is that it regulates blood pressure. It has a lot of protein and can be put in your favorite morning smoothie.
No wonder it’s so popular, all this and it even can strengthen your muscles! This is a supplement that you should definitely give a go sometime.
Plant-based diets have been here for quite some time, but now with influencers promoting this kind of lifestyle, it has never been more attractive to think about creating your diet around food that comes from plants.
You don’t have to go vegan or vegetarian and fully drop meat, it’s enough for you to just make slight adjustments in your already existing diet.
Tofu and tempeh are now very convenient for everyone, so there is no excuse not to try it. You can buy them premade or to make them at home.
Tempeh won in the battle but just because the battle is won doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give tofu a try, you really won’t go wrong with any of these two.
It’s a common thought that eating plant-based protein is restrictive.
Think of plant-based protein as a healthier and cheaper way of getting more natural protein, not as a restriction or as an obligation and you will see positive results in your overall health very soon!
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