- 10 Aug 2019
Fermented Indonesian super-food found to lower cholesterol and help prevent heart attacks
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 cultures around the world where life-span 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 and miso) every day. So do the Loma Linda population – the longest-lived and healthiest group in America. Soybeans, when soaked and processed traditionally into foods such as tempeh, become superfoods. Soybeans also contribute 40 times more protein per area of land than meat farming, so they are incredibly good, ethically, for people’s health and for the environment.
The biggest soybean and cholesterol research ever done
In 2019, researchers performed a new meta-analysis² of 46 controlled trials on the effects of soy protein on LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol 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.
“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.
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 complete superfood
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 has ‘good’ probiotic bacteria and fibre, is low in saturated fat, yet rich in folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin B2. Tempeh tastes delicious, especially when lightly seasoned, with a healthy nutty flavour that sits well in many curry and Asian-flavoured meals.
“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
Which soybean foods should I eat?
While many wholefood soy products are nutritionally beneficial, traditionally made, certified organic fermented tempeh is the most heart-healthy and beneficial of all. When certified organic tempeh is made, the non-GMO beans are 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 global 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. Only use traditionally made, certified organic soy foods. Tempeh is kept in the fridge of your local supermarket or health store.
Not all soy foods are created equal
If you want to be sure your soybeans are high quality, certified organic, ethical and non-GMO, then look for the WSB logo, as this certifies and guarantees:
- 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 traditionally, with natural nigari (not calcium/magnesium sulphate)
- Made using the timeless Japanese stoneground process
References available here
PDF of article available here