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July 2016
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Get Soy in your Diet with Tempeh

Tempeh for Lung Cancer: Two Recipes to Help Inhibit Malignant Growth

(Guest post from Kelsey Servi)

Tempeh –it’s what’s for dinner. (If you’re trying to naturally prevent lung cancer growth, that is.)

In a recent 2013 article, researchers from the University of Arkansas found that soybeans with a high oleic acid content could inhibit the growth of several cancers by up to 70 percent. Among the malignancies:

  • Lung cancer (growth reduced by 68 percent)
  • Colon cancer (growth reduced  by 73 percent)
  • Liver cancer (growth reduced by 70 percent)

This was certainly not the first study to identify anti-cancer benefits in soy. Other studies exploring the correlation between soy and lung cancer date back to 1985, and one published this spring indicates high-soy diets may correlate with longer lung cancer survival. (That study found that women who ate more than 21 grams of soy protein per day were more likely to reach five-year survival after a lung cancer diagnosis.)

However, this study was the first to note these specific bioactive benefits in three individual soy protein isolates. The University of Arkansas was also the first organization to identify two of the three high-oleic acid soybean varieties, as part of an ongoing soybean breeding program.

Oleic acid – the main fat component in the much-acclaimed olive oil – is also associated with breast cancer inhibition.

Lab workers tested each of the soy isolates against cell lines from lung, colon and liver cancer samples. They found that growth for each type of cancer significantly slowed after exposure to the soy isolates, and that higher doses produced greater results.

Several other food-derived compounds offer lung cancer inhibitory benefits. These include reservatrol, an antioxidant in red wine, and curcumin, the main component of the Indian herb turmeric.

Tempeh, Two Ways

Tempeh is thought of as a boring, obscure “health store” food. But when prepared correctly, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, it’s a fermented soy cake – but you can dress it up like any other animal meat. Crumbled tempeh makes a great stand-in for ground beef or ground turkey, and crispy, pan-fried tempeh strips are passable for bacon.

But just like you wouldn’t serve raw, unseasoned meat, you can’t serve raw, unseasoned tempeh. It needs a zesty marinade and some added fat to taste its best. Some tempeh products come pre-seasoned, and some come pre-cooked so all you need to do is heat it with some oil. (As with meat, soy should not be consumed raw.)

However, there are plenty of ways to get creative with the plain version! The following two tempeh recipes are full of plant-based protein (more than 15 grams per serving):

Tex-Mex Tempeh Tacos (serves one)


1/3 package organic tempeh

3 tablespoons mesquite BBQ sauce

½ avocado

Shredded lettuce

Greek yogurt (to sub for sour cream)

Pico de Gallo

2 whole-grain tortillas


–  Cut your tempeh into cubes, then brown in a skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the BBQ sauce.

– Warm tortillas in oven (approximately 2-3 minutes).

– Layer taco ingredients as you would for any taco; add as much – or as little – as you’d like of each. If you’re not experiencing chemotherapy-induced nausea, try adding hot sauce or mango salsa.




Easy Tempeh Stir Fry (serves one)


1/3 package organic soy tempeh

1 floret fresh broccoli

½ cup sliced carrots

½ onion

1 can baby corn or water chestnuts

¼ cup organic soybean oil

Teriyaki sauce and soy sauce, to taste

1 serving brown rice or soba noodles


-Cook rice/noodles according to package.

– Add vegetables, oil, teriyaki sauce and soy sauce to a wok (or skillet). Sautee for 5 minutes; add tempeh cubes. Sautee another 4-6 minutes, flipping the cubes so each side gets lightly crispy and brown.

If desired, add another dash of teriyaki or soy sauce; serve over the rice or soba noodles.


You should note that it’s important to purchase tempeh that’s certified organic or made from non-genetically modified soybeans. (The health effects of genetically modified foods are not completely known, but what we do know suggests that they’re not ideal for health).

While the study uses soybeans that are specifically bred to have higher-than-average oleic acid concentrations, there are several natural ways to obtain non-modified, high-oleic acid soybeans. Ask your local grocer for help finding non-GMO soy products in their refrigeration.

Do you cook with soy? If so, what are your favorite tofu or tempeh recipes? If you try out either of these recipes, let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page.



Seaman, A. M. (26 March 2013). Soy tied to better lung cancer survival among women. Reuters. Retrieved from

Rayaprolu, S. J., Hettiarachchy, N. S., Chen, P., Kannan, A., & Mauromostakos A. (2013). Peptides derived from high oleic acid soybean meal inhibit colon, liver and lung cancer cell growth. Food Research International; 50 (1). Retrieved from


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Time February 23, 2014 at 11:18 am

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