Seitan: A Lean Plant-Based Protein

corn and shredded seitan
corn and finely diced seitan

Seitan is the main protein from wheat. For this reason, its considered a popular plant-based alternative to dietary meats. Plant-based eaters typically use seitan as a meat substitutes because of how closely it matches the stringy texture of animal flesh products. Though seitan does not have all nine essential amino acids, its still high in proteins.

What Is Seitan?

Seitan is a type of gluten that is sourced from wheat. Gluten is an agent that helps hold bread together and gives bread its flexible consistency. The group of molecules that make up gluten’s molecules are made when the grains of certain flours mix with water. To make seitan, one simply needs to knead wheat flower with water until its sticky strings of wheat develop. Once the dough is rinsed, its starch falls away, leaving the gluten protein core, which can then be shaped, seasoned and cooked.

Is Seitan Healthy?

Beyond its relatively high protein content, seitan can be the dietary source for other nutrients, including iron, selenium, phosphorus, and calcium. Seitan is also low in carbohydrates and fats, which makes it perfect for people who are dieting for weight loss or weight management.

A 2014 randomized controlled trial titled, “Effect of a 6-Month Vegan Low-Carbohydrate (‘Eco-Atkins’) Diet On Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Body Weight In Hyperlipidaemic Adults: A Randomised Controlled Trial”, compared the effects of diets containing protein and fat from plant-based foods to diets containing some animal sources of protein and fat. Their conclusion was that low carb, vegan diets had greater lipid-lowering benefits than high-carb, animal proteins and fats diets.

People with gluten allergies or celiac disease should not ingest seitan. Celiac disease is an immune condition in which those who have it experiences increase in inflammation as a direct result from gluten consumption. For those who do not have celiac disease, gluten has no demonstrable adverse health effects associated with it.

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