What is TVP?

You might have noticed while shopping for food storage that you have come across cans of meat TVP and others without the TVP distinction. For example, Saratoga Farms offers a Freeze-dried Ground Beef but they also offer a Beef Crumble TVP. What’s the difference?

What is TVP?
TVP stands for Textured Vegetable Protein. Basically, TVP is high-fiber, high-protein meat substitute. It’s made from soy flour after the soybean oil has been extracted. It is cooked under pressure and dried. You might have also seen TVP being called Textured Soy Flour (TSF).

Another major difference is that TVP is dehydrated instead of freeze-dried. So, when you prepare the TVP you will need to cook it for a bit before it’s ready to eat.

Uses of TVP
You’re probably more familiar with TVP than you realize. TVP is used on a wide scale at restaurants and in public schools. The TVP is rehydrated and has a great shelf-life, so many companies use it for the benefit of storage and shipping.

You’ve probably seen TVP on pizza toppings, as bacon bits, in sloppy joes and more!

Textured-Vegetable-Protein-TVPBenefits of TVP
TVP is more affordable. Since cuts of meat can be pretty expensive, this is a great substitute that doesn’t lack for taste. You get the similar taste for less price.

It’s easy to prepare. All you have to do is add water to the TVP, simmer it for a few minutes and it’s ready to use in your family’s favorite recipes. You can also substitute it in meals by just adding a bit more water and letting it simmer for a few minutes longer.

Substitute for diets. TVP is a great substitute for vegetarians or people on a Kosher diet.

Would you rather have meat?
Higher level of protein. While TVP is a great substitute for protein, if you compare a cup of TVP to a cup of meat, the regular freeze-dried meat will have more protein in it.

Less sodium. Since salt and other flavoring is added to the TVP to make it taste good, more often than not they have higher sodium levels.

Less soy. TVP will have higher soy levels than meat. If you are on a low-soy diet or want to avoid soy, meats will be a better choice.

4 thoughts on “What is TVP?”

  • susan

    We grew up in 'meat and potato' families, but meat is now expensive and eating meat alone is not the best for our health. I always keep TVP on hand and often add it while cooking. It helps stretch the meat and no one even realizes it's in the dishes I make. TVP makes a great addition to meatloaves, tacos, chili, sloppy joes, meatballs, or is anything seasoned. It keeps forever, needs no refrigeration, takes very little space, and is healthy. Since its cost is so little, I'd suggest everyone buy some and experiment with it. It just may become a staple in your pantry too.

  • Hillybilly Jim
    Hillybilly Jim April 3, 2012 at 2:02 am

    You had me worried... I thought "TVP" stood for "Tennessee Valley 'Possum".



    Textured vegetable protein (TVP) or textured soy protein (TSP), is not recommended to be eaten as food.

    TVP is not a complete protein. Soybean like all beans lack two essential amino acids, Cysteine and Methionine. Vegetarians that rely solely on soy for their protein may be lacking in these vital nutrients, building blocks for every human cell and enzyme in the body.
    TVP is not a source for isoflavones as are most soy products.

    Isoflavones are compounds thought be be largely responsible for many of the health benefits associated with eating soy.

    Moderate levels of Isoflavones has demonstrated powerful anticancer benefits. The Japanese, who eat thirty times as much soy as North Americans, have a lower incidence of cancers of the breast, uterus and prostate.(7)

    Therefore, eating textured vegetable protein is unlikely to contribute substantially to the potential health benefits derived from eating other soy foods, such as miso, tofu, and tempeh.
    Most TVP sold is not organic.

    A very large percentage of soy, over 90%, is genetically modified. When made from genetically modified organisms, GMOs, the soybeans are genetically engineered. The use of TVP and other GE soybeans have reported a 50% increase in food allergies in UK. The report attributes this dramatic rise to the fact that consumers the previous year had started eating large amounts of imported GE soybeans.

    Farmers say that it is nearly impossible to obtain non-GM soybean seeds these days. Many people feel that consuming food from genetically modified organisms is untested and may carry potential long-term health risks.

    TVP has one of the highest percentages contamination by pesticides of any of the foods that are eaten.
    TVP is a soy foods made from fractionated beans.

    Fractionated beans are processed in a way that denatures proteins and doesn't remove the anti-nutrients. TVP is made from soy flour after the soybean oil has been extracted. The soy is subjected to high pressure and high temperatures. Caustic chemicals are used as part of the processing. Such beans are typically dissolved in petroleum-based solvents and then extruded at thermoplastic temperatures to mold them into desired shapes and textures. Due to the processing, TVP has a long shelf life and is very economical. Flavor variations have hydrolyzed oil in them for flavor. Hydrolyzing the fat may extend the shelf life but makes it less disarable as a food source. The fat content is increased in the flavored varieties, One oz of TVP is approximately equivalent to 3 oz. of meat.

    Soy processors have worked hard to get these anti-nutrients out of the finished product, particularly soy protein isolate (SPI) which is the key ingredient in most soy foods which imitate meat and dairy products, including baby formulas and some brands of soy milk.

    SPI production takes place in industrial factories where soybeans are first mixed with an alkaline solution to remove fiber, then precipitated and separated using an acid wash and, finally, neutralized in an alkaline solution.

    Acid washing in aluminum tanks leaches high levels of aluminum into the final product. As a result, TVP has much aluminum in the product.

    Finally, the resulting curds are spray-dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein powder. A final hardship to the original soybean is high-temperature, high-pressure extrusion processing of soy protein isolate to produce TVP.

    The high level of harmful substances remaining in precipitated soy products leaves their nutritional value questionable and potentially harmful.

    Nitrites, which are potent carcinogens, are formed during spray-drying, and a toxin called "lysinoalanine" is formed during alkaline processing.(1) Numerous artificial flavorings, particularly MSG, are added to SPI and TVP products to mask their h4 "beany" taste and to impart the flavor of meat.(2)
    TVP contains high levels of anti-nutrients.

    TVP contains 27% more trypsin inhibitor. This has even greater potential for setting off allergic reactions and digestive disturbance.

    Inherently, soy contains anti-nutrients such as enzyme inhibitors, which interfere with the digestion of protein. It is suggested that soybeans contain certain toxins that are negative factors concerning health. Soybeans reportedly contain high levels of digestive enzyme inhibitors that block the function of the pancreatic enzyme trypsin. This may possibly stop the digestion of the soy as well as anything else that may be in the stomach at the same time.

    Trypsin is also essential for the assimilation of B12. TVP can create B12 deficiency.

    TVP trypsin inhibitor activity contributes to its anti-coagulant property. It interferes with blood clotting which can not reversed by vitamin K.(16)

    Normal cooking does not de-activate the trypsin inhibitor, which can cause serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and can lead to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.

    Soybeans also contain an anti-nutrient called "phytic acid", which all beans do. However, soybeans have higher levels of phytic acid than any other legume. Phytic acid is also present in grains.

    Epidemiological studies have shown that people in third World Countries who have high consumption of grains and soy also commonly have deficiencies in these minerals. It must also be noted that this may be of particular concern with regard to babies who are using soy-based infant formulas. It prevents mineral absorption, especially zinc, calcium, magnesium.(17) Vegetarians relying on soy for protein and grains for bulk may not get enough minerals.

    In addition, soybeans also contain hemagglutinin, a clot-promoting substance which causes red blood cells to clump together. These clustered blood cells cannot properly absorb oxygen for distribution to the body's tissues, and are unable to help in maintaining good cardiac health.

    Hemagglutinins agglutinate red blood cells and significantly suppress growth.(18) This has worrying implications for babies, children and adolescents. Other possible bothersome components of soy is lysinoalanine, a known carcinogen.

    Hemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors are both "growth depressant" substances. Although the act of fermenting soybeans does de-activate both hemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors, cooking and precipitation do not. Although these enzyme inhibitors are found in reduced levels within precipitated soy products like tofu.
    Fermented soy products are tasty and healthful.

    Soybeans as provided by nature are not suitable for human consumption. Soy contains anti-nutrients which are reduced by traditional fermentation, by heat treatment, by sprouting (15), or by extensive processing.

    Only after a long period of fermentation (as ocurs in the creation of miso or tempeh) are the antinutrient and phytate levels of soybeans reduced, making their nourishment available to the human digestive system.

    Over 3,000 years ago, Asians discovered how to increase soy's digestibility and flavor by soaking, fermenting and sprouting the beans. This eliminated the anti-nutrients and increased soy's nutrition.

    Throughout Asia, soy is mainly used in a fermented form as a seasoning - shoyu, tamari, miso. Traditional fermentation is a slow process which, through the activities of bacteria, moulds and yeast, brings about a chemical change deactivating the anti-nutrients and increasing the availability of soy's nutrients. Fermentation is used for tempeh and miso, but not tofu, which is processed by precipitation. Precipitation deactivates only some of the anti-nutrients.

    Fifty years ago Western food technologists saw the value of the common soybean as an affordable protein. Bypassing the traditional and time consuming preparation steps, they created new soy foods. In record time, soy became the least expensive protein source. While many of these products are excellent in quality and free of anti-nutrients, unfortunately, not all are. This helps to explain the contradictory soy information we see in today's media.

    How the soy beans are treated determines if it is bad or good food source. Two guidelines for selecting quality soy foods:

    1. Purchase products made from whole beans such as miso, soybean sprouts, edamame, tempeh, soy nuts, soy nut butter, soymilk, shoyu, tamari, soy sauce and tofu.

    2. Make sure soybeans are from a quality source. Favor organic soy products that contain no GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Sixty percent of soybeans on today's market have been genetically modified.

  • jeff

    So, if this stuff is so bad for me, why do you sell it? I guess it is better to die with a full belly than it is to die hungry. Just saying...

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