Tempeh (pronounced ‘tem-pay’ or ‘tem-peh’) is a natural staple food in Indonesia but a relatively new and unusual food to Kiwis. In many Asian countries, people consume fermented tempeh every day for the extraordinary ‘long healthy life’ benefits. The famous ‘Blue Zones’ research found that the cultures all over the world where longevity is exceptionally long, all ate a predominantly plant-based diet – rich in beans or bean products.
Eat soybeans daily for longevity
The all-time longevity champions, in the islands of Okinawa, Japan, eat good quality traditionally made soybean foods (tempeh, tofu, miso) every day. So do the Loma Linda population – the longest lived and healthiest in America. Soybeans, when processed traditionally into foods such as tempeh, become superfoods. Soybeans also contribute 60 times more protein than meat farming over the same area of land, so they are incredibly good ethically, for people and for the environment.
“When one adds the displacement of high saturated fat and cholesterol-rich meats to a diet that includes soy, the reduction of cholesterol could be greater. The existing data and our analysis of it suggest soy protein contributes to heart health”
Study lead author, Dr David Jenkins, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada¹.
The biggest soybean and heart health investigation ever done
The researchers performed a new 2019 meta-analysis² of 46 controlled trials on soy protein’s effects on LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol (TC) compared with non-soy protein. They found ‘soy protein significantly reduced LDL cholesterol in adults’. Almost every study done on soybeans has found that regular consumption helps remove bad LDL cholesterol from the arteries, while increasing ‘good HDL cholesterol’ and reducing the risk of heart disease³⁻⁸.
Eating healthy soybean foods helps lower heart attacks
In another recent major study⁹, Chinese researchers looked at over 3,500 first-time heart attack sufferers and healthy individuals. They reported that ‘An unhealthy dietary pattern increased the risk of heart attack while an increased intake of vegetables, fruits, and natural soybean foods were associated with a significant drop in heart attack rates.’
Fermented tempeh is a nutrition-packed wholefood
Tempeh contains an amazing 17% complete protein, which means that it contains all nine essential amino acids. This makes it an important plant-based protein source. Tempeh is also low in saturated fat yet rich in vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and thiamin. Even better, it tastes delicious! Tempeh is a complete wholefood with a delicious nutty flavour, it has the ‘good’ probiotic bacteria, fibre and a powerful protein hit. Tempeh sits well in many curry and Asian-flavoured meals.
“Legumes have traditionally been an important part of the diets of many cultures throughout the world. The nutritional profile of beans shows that they have much to offer; beans are high in protein, low in saturated fat, high in complex carbohydrates and fibre and a good source of several micronutrients and phytochemicals. Soybeans are unique among the legumes because they are a concentrated source of isoflavones. It has been hypothesized that isoflavones reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis, and help relieve menopausal symptoms”
Mark J Messina, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition¹⁰
What soybean foods should I eat?
Traditionally made, certified organic fermented tempeh, is the most heart-healthy and beneficial of all. When certified organic tempeh is made, the entire soybean is soaked and pre-digested with the healthy ‘good probiotic’ bacteria rhyzopus culture. It is kept whole, there is no chemical extraction or nasties added, and it is naturally GMO-free. There is much controversy and Worldwide concern about the growing and consuming of genetically modified soy¹¹⁻¹³. According to the USDA, over 90% of soybean farmland in America now grows genetically engineered (GE/GMO) soybeans. Read your labels carefully.
Not all soy foods are created equal
If you want to be sure of the health benefits, then look for:
- Vegan, dairy-free & gluten-free
- An ethically sourced, supplied & produced product
- Premium non-GMO, Biogro® ‘Certified Organic’ whole soybeans
- Free from soy extracts, isolates, powders & defoaming agents
- Free from artificial additives, preservatives or fillers
- Made with natural nigari (not calcium/magnesium sulphate)
- Made using the traditional, timeless Japanese stoneground process
- A New Zealand ‘made & owned’ company
- A Meta-Analysis of 46 Studies Identified by the FDA Demonstrates that Soy Protein Decreases Circulating LDL and Total Cholesterol Concentrations in Adults; Sonia Blanco Mejia Mark Messina Siying S Li Effie Viguiliouk Laura Chiavaroli Tauseef A Khan Korbua Srichaikul Arash Mirrahimi John L Sievenpiper Penny Kris-Etherton; The Journal of Nutrition, nxz020, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxz020 Published: 22 April 2019. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03468127. Nutrition and Disease, American Society for Nutrition 2019.
- Cardiovascular and renal benefits of dry beans and soybean intake. Anderson JW, Smith BS, Washnock CS. Am J Clin Nutr 1999(suppl);70:464S–74S.
- Zhang, Y.-B., Chen, W.-H., Guo, J.-J., Fu, Z.-H., Yi, C., Zhang, M., …Na, X.-L. (2013, January). Soy isoflavone supplementation could reduce body weight and improve glucose metabolism in non-Asian postmenopausal women—a meta-analysis. Nutrition, 29(1), 8–14. Retrieved from http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/S0899-9007(12)00143-8/fulltext
- (2016, December 1). Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/soy/ataglance.htm
- Tokede, O., Onabanjo, T. A., Yansane, A., Gaziano, J., & Djoussé, L. (2015, September 28). Soya products and serum lipids: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. British Journal of Nutrition, 114(6), 831–843. Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/soya-products-and-serum-lipids-a-metaanalysis-of-randomised-controlled-trials/180FD802B992EE018ED5763CD7F73ECB/core-reader#
- Tonstad, S., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Messina, M., Haddad, E., & Fraser, G. E. (2016, June). The association between soya consumption and serum thyroid-stimulating hormone concentrations in the Adventist Health Study-2. Public Health Nutrition, 19(8), 1464–1470. Retrieved from https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/association-between-soya-consumption-and-serum-thyroidstimulating-hormone-concentrations-in-the-adventist-health-study2/6363E77480EA431223E8ECB472D75AA0/core-reader#
- Uses of soy. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ncsoy.org/media-resources/uses-of-soybeans/
- Influence of dietary patterns on the risk of acute myocardial infarction in China population: the INTERHEART China study Chin Med J (Engl). 2013 Feb;126(3):464-70. Guo J1, Li W, Wang Y, Chen T, Teo K, Liu LS, Yusuf S; INTERHEART China study investigators. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23422108
- Mark J Messina, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 70, Issue 3, 1 September 1999, Pages 439s–450s, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/70.3.439s
- Bawa, A. S., & Anilakumar, K. R. (2013, December). Genetically modified foods: Safety, risks and public concerns—a review. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 50(6), 1035–1046. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3791249/
- Frequently asked questions on genetically modified foods. (2014, May). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/foodsafety/areas_work/food-technology/faq-genetically-modified-food/en/
- Recent trends in GE adoption. (2017, July 12). Retrieved from https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx
Jason wishes to deeply thank, acknowledge and recognise the effort and contribution that the PIF Foundation has provided on a voluntary basis since 2014, as we educated, motivated and inspired change that helps transform the health, vitality and longevity of people all over the world.