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TOFU VS. TEMPEH: WHICH IS THE HEALTHIER SOY FOOD?

Whether you’re a plant-based eater, a meat lover, a vegan-before-six practitioner, or just a classic omnivore, everyone can benefit from eating more meatless meals on the regular. It promotes a healthier lifestyle. It’s better for the environment. And you’ll feel much less guilty when you encounter animal mistreatment videos.

One of the main concerns of becoming a vegetarian or a vegan is the lack of protein intake, but the truth is, there are countless high-protein vegan foods to replace meat—one of them being soybeans, which are actually one of the best sources of protein. And of all the soybean products, two seem to stand out most, and are often pitted against each other for their health benefits: tofu and tempeh.

Tofu and tempeh are both soy products, and are equally delicious. But they do differ quite drastically in terms of nutrient content. Tofu has been a staple part of the Asian diet for millennia, and is known for its health benefits, but how does it fare against its less-processed, fermented cousin, tempeh?

 

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How do tofu and tempeh compare?

Tofu

Some people are put off by tofu’s textures, but did you know that tofu is actually made into a wide range of textures and firmness? From soft, to medium, to firm, to pressed, it’s more than likely that there’ll be one that suits your preference. This is because tofu is made by curdling fresh, heated soy milk, and coagulant—kind of like making cheese! Its mild flavour makes it a versatile ingredient in many dishes, as tofu can quickly soak up any flavour that it’s paired with. Depending on the firmness of the tofu, it can be deep-fried, used in soups, in stir-fries, in salads, and even as desserts.

Tofu’s Health Benefits

Tofu is a great source of protein, as it offers around 10 grams in just half a cup. It’s also a good source of fibre, along with other minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Tofu is low in calories with only about 96 in half a cup—especially considering how dense it is in protein!

Tempeh

Tempeh is completely different in texture and flavour compared to tofu. This is because tempeh is not only made with whole cooked soybeans, but it also undergoes a fermentation process that lasts several days. The whole bean nature gives tempeh its grainy and “beany” texture. Its flavour can be described as nutty and earthy, and is definitely noticeably stronger than tofu. Tempeh, nonetheless, is also a versatile ingredient that can be use for a wide range of dishes—or even snacks, like tempeh fries!

Tempeh’s Health Benefits

Tempeh is a tremendous source of protein, with around 15 grams in just half a cup. It also offers an excellent amount of fibre with 3.5 grams in half a cup, compared to tofu’s 0.5 gram. And like tofu, tempeh is also a good source of iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It is a little higher in calories with about 160 in half a cup, which makes it perfect for a quick protein and caloric boost!

We hate to say it, as we love both tofu and tempeh, but tempeh is the winner of this health food match-up. That’s not to say we’ll be cutting tofu anytime soon, though—it’s wonderfully (and arguably more) versatile and so delicious! But if you’re looking for a health boost, tempeh is definitely the better option.

Which soybean product do you prefer? Tofu vs. tempeh? Share with us your favourite recipes!

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Daniel Huang

Daniel is a Digital Marketing and Content Strategist at SPUD. He graduated from UBC with a degree in English and International Relations with a focus on environmental topics. A wordsmith by day and a bookman by night, he's a self-proclaimed gastronomic snob, a buck-a-shuck addict, a sub-par skier, and a devoted kingsguard of the oxford comma. He also frequents the dog park with a schnauzer named Duke. | Instagram: @dannnyellow

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