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What Are "Hydrolyzed Soy Protein" And "Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein," And Why Are They In Everything?
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May 3, 2012
12:15 am
pam
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hydrolized vegetable protein sounds a lot like the equivalent of MTBE in oil refinery to me.

May 3, 2012
12:32 am
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Paul:

Your co-worker is essentially correct: it's MSG without the sodium.

From what I understand, the "meat glue" issue is far more prevalent in restaurants and pre-packaged meat.  It's difficult to make something that looks exactly like a raw ribeye, or even a raw chuck roast...but it's very easy to make a homogenous chunk of meat that, after being grilled, can be sold as a "steak".

That's why I don't buy any meat sold in opaque tubes, or any of the pre-packaged "bacon-wrapped filet mignon in a plastic mold" type of stuff I see in the freezer case.  I figure it's guaranteed to be made out of glued-together tenderloin tips -- at best.

pam:

Exactly.  Soy is heavily subsidized and cheap, therefore soy lecithin is cheap.

MSG is just free glutamate attached to a sodium ion (Na+).  In water, it dissociates into Na+ and glutamate, which is why MSG tastes salty (the Na+ ion).  In other sources, like kelp, the glutamate is not attached to a sodium atom, so it doesn't taste salty...but it still has umami, because that comes from the glutamate.

Clear?

JS

May 3, 2012
10:23 am
Leslie
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Great post! It's been over a year eating unprocessed foods, a year that no longer required reading labels with mystery ingredients. People seem to focus on calories and fat content and ignore the ingredient list. Ludicrous descriptors on the front of box like 'Heart healthy canola' or 'low fat soy protein' are just wrong.

@Nick, this article discusses glutamate and in the comments Dr. Eades responds to a question like your's … may be an issue with calcium: Savory Monosodium Glutamate

May 3, 2012
2:49 pm
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Leslie:

That's a great article by Dr. Eades, and the discussion in the comments is good too.  He doesn't update much any more, but there's a trove of good information in his older stuff.

Note that I had to fix the URL myself...something's wrong with the comment/forum software that causes it to screw up links when it tries to shorten the text with ellipses.  I'll try to find the problem as soon as I'm less busy!

JS

May 4, 2012
3:47 am
Zachary K.
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Amazingly informative article! Good job, Stanton.

I was shopping for a natural body wash and lotion, Canus Goat's Milk Body Wash and lotion to be precise. I noticed they offer a version of their product that adds in hydrolyzed wheat protein for added moisturizing.

My question is, do you know if using hydrolyzed wheat protein in cosmetics such as lotion and body wash is safe? Or is it just as bad for you as eating it?

Thanks.

May 5, 2012
3:50 am
Wenchypoo
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Way back in my pre-Paleo days, I used to use dehydrated TVP (soaked) as a meat stretcher. I remember the back of the bag saying it was hydrolyzed vegetable protein.

You'll also see that term listed on the backs of frozen burritos, and frozen pizzas in any store, because they're full of SOY and not actual meat. The government says as long as they don't advertise meat on the front, no amount of meat has to be in the middle.

May 5, 2012
5:11 am
jordan
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Your timing could not be more perfect. Here's to meat glue.

May 7, 2012
1:43 am
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Zachary: 

Thanks for the support!

Rubbing hydrolyzed wheat protein on your body is probably a lot like rubbing bread on your body: I doubt it'll harm you unless you're allergic, but I don't see any reason to do so.  There are plenty of great products out there that don't contain it!

(Also, I confess I'm not clear how a protein can "moisturize"...perhaps I don't spend enough time with cosmetics!)

Wenchypoo:

TVP is a different beast entirely -- but it's possible that they were adding HVP to the TVP in order to give it some umami.

And it's definitely the case that convenience food is chock-full of non-food like HVP and TVP.  If people are in enough of a hurry to voluntarily eat a microwave burrito, they're unlikely to care what's in it...

...which (if I recall correctly) is mostly soybean oil by calories, with wheat flour coming next.  

jordan:

Great article!  I'm not at all surprised that catered "filet mignon" is usually glued-together tenderloin tips.  There's only a few pounds of filet in a side of beef -- and I've always wondered how so many places can serve "filet mignon" when there's so little of it to go around.  

JS

August 14, 2012
7:29 pm
madaline beeman
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Wow...I never stop learning and being amazed at what our government aloes the food industry (and drug industry to sell us medicine to fix the results) to do!
This is a fantastick site!!!

August 15, 2012
1:14 am
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Gnoll
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Off the direct topic, but related, I was looking for a good fish stock to use with a Bouillabasse last Sunday. I found one which proudly declared that it was "free of artificial flavour enhancers*" ... where the * on the back of the packet stated: "Does not contain MSG". The ingredients, however, listed, "Yeast Extract", which is technically a live culture although far from natural once produced. Not liars, but close.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

August 27, 2012
3:52 pm
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madaline:

I'm glad you find it helpful!  Do stick around.

Paul:

"Yeast extract" usually has a lot of free glutamate in it.  It's one reason Vegemite and Marmite are so popular.

JS

September 8, 2012
9:39 am
David I
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You mention seitan in passing. Seitan, of course, isn't hydrolyzed; it's just wheat with all the water-soluble materials washed away in cold water.

I rather like seitan--although its bioavailability is admittedly low.

What I find fascinating is that I have come across two cases of people who claimed to be gluten-intolerant but could eat seitan with no ill effects. Since seitan is pretty much nothing but gluten, that's more than a little odd. (In both cases, they were unaware that seitan was a wheat product! Hilarious.)

Now, there's a couple of possibilities here. Either their gluten intolerance is all in their heads, or maybe the problem isn't really gluten. Could it be that some other component of wheat--one closely associated with gluten, but water soluble--is the real culprit in "gluten intolerance?"

September 8, 2012
3:40 pm
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Gnoll
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... or the devil confuses them.

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

September 9, 2012
11:49 am
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David I:

I think it's most likely that the people you encountered aren't actually gluten-intolerant. 

Note that, strictly speaking, the gliadins (not the glutelins) are the peptides with the effects on zonulin signaling, and possibly opiate receptors.  However, wheat protein is collectively referred to as "gluten" even though it's composed of both glutenins and gliadins.  It's a bit confusing!

Neither glutelins not gliadins are strictly water-soluble...gliadins are alcohol-soluble, and glutelins are soluble in weak acids or alkalis.  And seitan contains both.

I concede that I don't know enough about the chemistry to say what other minor proteins might be water-soluble (and therefore, perhaps, washed away during the making and processing of seitan).  However, again, I think "not really gluten-intolerant" is the most likely explanation. 

Note that this doesn't mean it's good for them (or for anyone) to eat seitan!

JS

October 2, 2012
6:39 am
mark
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I have always been skeptical when I read the list of ingredients from "healthier" choices when I discover hydrolyzed vegetable protein on the list. You have gone much further in your research explaining that it's almost pure economics why companies add this to our food because it's cheap and abundant!

October 12, 2012
12:36 am
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mark:

Absolutely!  Another great example is PGPR in chocolate...it's cheaper than cocoa butter.

JS

October 12, 2012
5:01 am
Indiana
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PGPR.. sigh.  Both glad and sad to find out about this.  I told my husband "They're fucking with the chocolate now".  Happy that my chocolate intake generally falls to a few cacao nibs occasionally.

January 9, 2013
9:27 am
Marcus Marcinelli
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Very interesting article. I have recently had my gall bladder removed and noticed an instinctive lack of desire for highly processed foods. Although I don't consider myself a vegan, I find myself gravitating toward whole foods rather than processed.
I think your article, although obviously pointing out the pitfalls of a highly processed vegatarian proten source, is aimed at the vegan diet, should also take into account a non vegan diet. How many of us would want to eat bologna or hot dogs on a regular basis and call that a good protein source? Just like whole foods, I can see the benefits to a meat diet as long as it is fresh and unprocessed. I'll take a good pot roast over a hot dog any day.

January 9, 2013
9:51 am
Madison, WI, USA
Gnoll
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Or hell, I just get the stone ground chocolate most of the time now anyways.  I find I prefer it over the other kinds now.

"Often we forget . . . the sky reaches to the ground . . . with each step . . . we fly."  ~We Fly, The House Jacks

January 9, 2013
2:27 pm
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E Craig:

Good chocolate (Lindt/Ghirardelli/etc.) doesn't have PGPR in it...it's the cheap stuff in candy bars that's almost universally stretched with PGPR.

Marcus:

If you read my other articles (check the index), it'll become clear that I'm very much pro-meat as well as pro-whole-foods in general -- so I absolutely agree with you that a good roast is where we want to be getting our protein.

However, there is plenty of HVP/HSP/HWP in meat-based processed foods...again, because it's a way to sneak in something equivalent to MSG without actually saying "MSG" on the label.

Jen W:

AFAIK, PGPR is an ingredient that must be disclosed individually on the label, and can't be hidden under "natural flavoring", "artificial flavoring", or some other catch-all.  So you should be safe if you read the label.

JS

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