Wednesday, August 12, 2009

TVP and amino acids?

Question: I have two questions, Monique.

(1) If TVP is made from dehulled soy beans after the oil is extracted, shouldn't we be concerned about the presence of solvents used for the oil extraction being in the defatted soybeans?

(2) Does vegetable protein from beans for example, contain all 8 essential amino acids? Are vegetable proteins absorbed by the body as efficiently as animal protein?

Thank you, Marietta

Answer: Textured Soy Protein (TSP, also called Textured Vegetable Protein or TVP) is made by compressing defatted soy flour. It contains about 70 percent protein, retains most of the soybean's dietary fiber, has no cholesterol and virtually no fat.

Yes, there is a possibility that trace amounts of the solvents used for the oil extraction may remain in the TSP. However, they are in such minute quantities that there should be no cause for concern.

If you want the benefits of soy protein, but wish to avoid TSP, I suggest eating Tempeh. This is an easily digestible fermented soy food, made from cracked cooked soybeans, mixed with a grain such as millet, brown rice or barley (and sometimes all three). It is inoculated with beneficial bacteria to make it meaty-tasting and chewy. Tempeh has a very pleasant nutty/mushroom flavor, which can be marinated, grilled, stir-fried, sauteed, added to soups, casseroles, or sandwiches.

With respect to your question about vegetable protein, soybeans are the only vegetable that by itself offers a complete protein profile. Soy protein is of the highest quality, equal to that of meat and dairy products, but without the cholesterol and saturated fat. It can be the sole source of protein, without causing any nutritional imbalance.

Our body breaks down protein into individual amino acids, which form helpful antibodies and enzymes for our bodies. Amino acids are necessary for proper growth, development, health and maintenance. Of the twenty-two amino acids we require, our body produces only fourteen. These are called nonessential amino acids. The remaining eight are called essential amino acids, which must come from the foods we eat.

Soy protein provides all eight of these amino acids, making it a complete protein. Besides having a higher quality protein, soybeans also have a higher amount of protein than other beans. Soybeans have 35 to 38 percent of total calories coming from protein, while other beans only have about 20 to 30 percent.

If you eat a balanced diet containing a variety of vegetables, grains, fruits, legumes, seeds and nuts, you will be able to obtain and completely absorb all the protein your body requires.

For more information about TVP, go to

For great soy recipes, read ...
Virtues of Soy: A Practical Health Guide and Cookbook
by Monique N. Gilbert

Just Add Water How to Use Dehydrated Food and TVP
by Barbara G. Salsbury
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