Food Fight!: Tofu vs. Tempeh




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Do you turn to tofu or tempeh as a meatless protein option? Find out which of these soy-based foods is the healthier choice.

Made from curdled soy milk, a 3-ounce portion of firm tofu (about the size of a smartphone) contains 120 calories, 6 grams of fat and 12 grams protein, plus minerals like selenium, zinc, iron, magnesium and potassium. Blocks of tofu are also commonly packed in a calcium-containing solution to preserve freshness, which also boosts content of the bone-building mineral.

The beauty of tofu is that it will take on any flavor it's prepared with. Its various textures include tender "silken" and more sturdy blocks labeled as "firm" and "extra firm." This versatility allows for tofu to be steeped into soup, roasted, fried, baked or pureed into smoothies, puddings and frozen treats.

(If you're curious about the controversies around eating too much soy, get the facts.)


This plant-based protein option is made from soybeans that have been fermented and compressed. It has an earthy, nutty flavor and a denser texture. Many brands of packaged tempeh are combined with other grains like barley and rice, plus seasonings and flavorings from flax and sesame seeds.

A 3-ounce portion of tempeh averages 160 calories, 9 grams of fat and 15 grams of protein. It contains plentiful amounts of B-vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium.

Add tempeh to stir fry or marinate then bake, grill or fry. It can also be crumbled and added to soups and stews to add a pleasant chunky texture.

Healthy Eats Winner: Tofu! It's a close call from a nutrition standpoint but the versatility of tofu makes it come out on top.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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