Is Seitan (Vital Wheat Gluten) Healthy?
The answer to this question depends on your health goals. If you are looking for a low carb diet, then seitan may not be right for you. On the other hand if you want to lose weight or gain muscle mass, then seitan could be beneficial for you.
If you have been following a paleo diet, then it might seem strange that seitan would be healthy. However, there are many benefits of eating seitan. First off, it’s high protein content means that you will get plenty of energy from it. Second, it contains all the essential amino acids needed for human body.
Thirdly, seitan is a good source of fiber which helps keep you full longer than most foods. Fourthly, seitan has no cholesterol and does not raise blood pressure like some plant based sources do. Fifthly, seitan is very filling since it provides you with lots of nutrients.
So what makes seitan unhealthy?
Well, one major reason why seitan is harmful to your health is because it contains wheat gluten. While wheat gluten isn’t bad for you per say, its presence in food products causes problems when consumed in large amounts.
The thing about vital wheat gluten is that when it’s isolated from wheat, it lacks other nutrients that are present in wheat. Sure, vital wheat gluten contains lots of protein and fiber, but it doesn’t contain other nutritious things like vitamins and minerals. To add back these nutrients, manufacturers often add synthetic ones to processed foods which can be harmful to your body.
Another reason why seitan is bad for you is because of the high amount of sodium found in it. Most of the time when food manufacturers make seitan, they add large amounts of soy sauce. While this helps enhance the flavor of the seitan, it also causes it to be extremely high in sodium.
Of course if you consume vital wheat gluten only occasionally, then it probably won’t be a problem for you. The reason why vegans and vegetarians choose to eat seitan is because it’s a good source of protein. It’s also a good source of fiber. However, most people don’t realize that you can get the same nutrients from other foods without the risk of consuming too much wheat gluten.
So what are some good sources of protein and fiber that won’t cause your body to react negatively?
There are many options that you can choose from. Here are a few:
Chickpeas – Chickpeas are rich in fiber and protein. Like seitan, they also have no cholesterol. The only difference is that they do not cause a spike in your blood sugar levels.
Tofu – Tofu contains all the essential amino acids needed by the human body to stay healthy. It’s also low in calories and has no cholesterol. Tofu can be used as a substitute for meat in any recipe. As it soaks up the flavor of the spices and other ingredients, it tastes quite similar to meat as well.
Turtle Beans – Turtle beans are a great source of fiber and protein. Due to their high fiber content, turtle beans also help you feel full longer and prevent overeating.
Peanut Butter – Who doesn’t like peanut butter?
This tasty spread is not only delicious, but it’s also a healthy source of energy which contains lots of protein and vitamins.
As you can see, there are many foods that you can eat instead of seitan that have the same nutrients without causing a spike in your blood sugar and having an unhealthy amount of sodium. So next time you’re at the grocery store or supermarket, stick to these foods and avoid vital wheat gluten. Your body will thank you for it.
Thanks for reading!
Sources & references used in this article:
Organoleptic evaluation of poultry meat products with wheat protein–seitan, coloured by microbial natural pigment by P Mal’a, M Baranová, D Marcinčáková… – Assam University Journal …, 2010 – Citeseer
Baranová, M., Maľa, P., Marcinčáková, D. Burdová, O., Kremeň, J. by EOFW PROTEIN—SEITAN – GreGová, G., venGlovský, J., varGová, M …, 2008 – uvlf.sk
Meat analogues: Health promising sustainable meat substitutes by P Kumar, MK Chatli, N Mehta, P Singh… – Critical reviews in …, 2017 – Taylor & Francis
The Nutritional analysis of different wheat genotypes grown in Lithuania by V Kliševičiūtė, R Gružauskas… – … : 13. BOKU-Symposium …, 2014 – lsmuni.lt