Textured vegetable protein, also known as TVP, is a meat substitute featured in many vegetarian products. You may also have noticed it on the shelves of supermarkets or health food stores.

Its unique texture and mild flavor make it a great addition to sauces, plant-based chili mixes, and veggie burgers. It’s also used to bulk up and add extra protein to meat-based dishes.

Still, despite its widespread use, you may be unsure exactly what TVP is and how it may impact your health.

This article takes a look at what TVP is, how it’s made, and whether it’s good for you.

tofu and TVP in a bowlShare on Pinterest
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Despite what its name implies, textured vegetable protein is typically made from soybeans rather than vegetables.

It’s produced during the process of making soybean oil. Once the oil is extracted from the soybeans, a high protein paste remains. This paste is pushed through a hot nozzle to form different shapes — such as nuggets, strips, or flakes — and then dehydrated.

Although TVP is most commonly made from soy, it can also be made from other ingredients, including:

  • wheat
  • oats
  • cottonseed

Before using TVP, you need to rehydrate it with hot water or broth. Then, it’s easy to use as a plant-based alternative to ground meat in dishes like meatballs, burgers patties, or chili.

Even if you don’t follow a plant-based diet, you can still add TVP to your meals to add texture and nutrients.

Summary

TVP is typically made from soybeans during the process of making soybean oil. Rehydrate it before use and add to both vegetarian and meat recipes.

TVP is low in calories and rich in important nutrients like protein and fiber.

It also contains several other essential nutrients, including:

  • copper
  • folate
  • magnesium
  • thiamin

A 1/4-cup (17-gram) serving of dry TVP contains (1):

  • Calories: 56
  • Protein: 9 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Carbs: 6 grams
  • Fiber: 3 grams
  • Copper: 77% of the daily value (DV)
  • Folate: 13% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 12% of the DV
  • Thiamine: 10% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 9% of the DV
  • Iron: 9% of the DV
  • Potassium: 9% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 6% of the DV

TVP is loaded with copper, a mineral that plays a central role in iron metabolism and brain health (2).

It’s also high in folate, which is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for the production of DNA (3).

Plus, it provides a hearty dose of magnesium in each serving, a mineral involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in your body (4).

Summary

TVP is low in calories but high in protein, fiber, and several important vitamins and minerals.

Thanks to its impressive nutrient profile, TVP may offer several health benefits.

Rich in protein

TVP is a great source of protein, packing 9 grams into each 1/4-cup (17-gram) serving of the dry product (1).

Protein plays a crucial role in many aspects of your health. It’s especially important for (5):

  • tissue repair
  • wound healing
  • muscle growth

What’s more, it can benefit weight loss, as it helps regulate your appetite and keeps you feeling full for longer (6).

TVP can be particularly useful for those following a vegan and vegetarian diet who have difficulty getting enough plant-based protein (7).

Good source of fiber

With 3 grams of fiber in every serving, TVP is an excellent way to bump up your fiber intake when added to your diet (1).

Fiber slows the absorption of sugar in your bloodstream. This can help stabilize your blood sugar levels after you eat (8).

It can also promote regularity, decrease your appetite, and help keep your cholesterol levels in check to support heart health (9).

Additionally, fiber can enhance the health of your gut microbiome — the healthy bacteria in your gut — which can impact everything from digestive health to immune function (10).

May support heart health

TVP is typically made from soybeans, which have long been studied for their speculated heart health benefits.

In particular, soy protein has been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which are risk factors for heart disease (11).

In fact, a review of 17 studies linked regular consumption of soy with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke (12).

In another review, eating at least 25 grams of soy protein per day was found to decrease blood pressure levels in postmenopausal women (13).

Summary

TVP is high in protein and fiber and could help support heart health.

Although TVP can be made from several different ingredients, it’s typically made from soy.

Soy is one of the most common allergens. If you have a soy allergy, consuming soy-based products can cause serious side effects, including anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening (14).

It’s also worth noting that the majority of soy grown in the United States is genetically modified (15).

Studies show that genetically modified foods are safe to eat. Still, some people choose to limit their intake of genetically modified ingredients due to concerns about the potential long-term effects on health (16).

So, while it’s fine to enjoy TVP from time to time, aim to pair it with other nutritious protein sources in your diet.

Summary

TVP is often made from soy, a crop that’s often genetically modified and is a common allergen. Aim to pair TVP with other sources of protein in your diet.

TVP is a product made from soybeans. It’s often used to enhance the texture and nutritional content of dishes.

In addition to being highly nutritious and rich in fiber and protein, it could also support heart health and protect against heart disease and stroke.

However, it’s not suitable for those with an allergy to soy products and — like all other foods — should be enjoyed as part of a balanced, varied diet.