What you need to know about HVP, a toxic food additive similar to MSG
What is HVP?
Copyright 2011 - Kris Heeter, Ph.D.
HVP or "hydrolyzed vegetable protein" sounds innocent enough and it's in thousands of food products that we eat on a regular basis. It is a hydrolysate of vegetable protein that can be made from soy, wheat, or corn.
Like MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein is used in foods as taste enhancers. HVP is disguised a number of ways in ingredient labels - "natural flavoring" or anything listed as "hydrolyzed" (e.g. hydrolyzed soy). It is found in processed foods, fast foods, dips, gravy, salad dressing - just to name a few.
Many fast food restaurants use meat treated with hydrolyzed vegetable protein to make the meat taste juicier and to keep it from drying out. While HVP normally is not added to meat sold in retail stores, there are some exceptions: it's a common ingredient in hot dogs, it can be found in some canned tuna, and in can be found in some meat alternatives like tofu.
But there is really much more to the HVP story that most consumers aren't aware of...
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This book provides a complete summary of the affects of food additives like HVP, MSG, artificial sweeteners and more.
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HVP is considered an "excitotoxin"
Hydrolyzed vegetable protein, contains short peptides with free amino acids like glutamic acid. Glutamic acid, in the form of its sodium salt, is monosodium glutamate (MSG). Glutamate is considered to be the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitter in the body.
Both HVP and MSG have now been categorized as "excitotoxins". Excitoxins, a term coined by Russell Blaulock, M.D., is a class of neurotoxins.
Excitotoxins injested at high concentrations encountered in some processed foods can kill certain neurons - basically "exciting" or stimulating them to death.
Research suggests that this neurotoxic effect worsens and may contribute to some neurodegenerative diseases including:
Lou Gerhig's Disease
It's been known to cause headaches in adults. But what's most alarming is that researchers have found that a child's brain is four times more sensitive to excitotoxins than an adult's brain.
These toxins can potentially pass through the placenta during pregnancy, affecting the developing fetal brain and causing damage to the hypothalamus. Damage to the hypothalamus during pregnancy typically does not show up at birth and often does not appear until years later, during adulthood.
These food additives provide no real nutritional value and their sole purpose is to make your processed foods and fast foods taste better. The question one must ask, is enhanced flavor worth the long term negative consequences?
HVP food recalls
While it is a food additive, like many other foods, it can become contaminated with bacteria.
Over one hundred food products containing HVP were recalled by the FDA in 2010 due to a salmonella-contaminated HVP ingredient widely used in food processing. That particular recall included a variety of chips, dips, powdered soup/dip mixes, some pretzels, spice mixes, bottled salad dressing, canned stew, and gravy.