Vital wheat gluten is made by extracting all of the gluten in wheat and leaving behind the starch. It is sold as a powder that is available in many health food and specialty food grocers, as well as at certain high-end supermarkets. Gluten is made into a non-animal protein substitute that is popular among vegans and vegetarians, as well as in many Asian cuisines. It can have a spongy or firmer texture, when it is called seitan, and can be seasoned to take on flavors, including mimicking meats such as chicken, duck or beef.
Packed With Protein
Vital wheat gluten is extremely high in protein, and because of this, it is a healthy alternative to animal protein sources. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you include a variety of proteins in your diet, including ones from vegetable sources, which include gluten. A 50-gram serving of vital wheat gluten mixed with water or broth produces 2 ounces of seitan or gluten in a solid form, which has almost 38 grams of protein per serving. This is 68 to 83 percent of the recommended dietary allowance of grams of protein for men and women, respectively.
Rich in Phosphorous
A 2-ounce serving of wheat gluten has 130 milligrams of phosphorous. This is 19 percent of the recommended dietary intake of this essential mineral for adults. Phosphorous makes up 1 percent of your total body weight and is stored primarily in your bones and teeth. It helps your body process and make use of carbohydrates and fats, as well as the production of protein for healthy development. It aids in the repair, maintenance and growth of all cells and tissues.
Significant Source of Microminerals
Vital wheat gluten is a significant source of the minerals iron and selenium. A 2-ounce serving has 2.6 milligrams of iron. This is 14 percent of the recommended daily intake for adult women, and 32 percent for adult men and women over 50 years of age. Iron is considered essential for your overall health because it aids in the production of red blood cells, namely hemoglobin and myoglobin, which carry oxygen throughout your body. A 2-ounce serving of vital wheat gluten also contains 19.8 micrograms of selenium, an essential trace mineral. The recommended dietary allowance of selenium is 55 micrograms per day for adults, with a serving of vital wheat gluten providing 36 percent of the RDA. Selenium is important in DNA production and for making thyroid hormones.
Low in Fat And Promotes Ideal Weight
Vital wheat gluten is a naturally low-fat protein source, with less than 1 gram of fat per 2-ounce serving and no cholesterol. Eating a diet low in fat can help you keep your cholesterol levels in check — something that can be a problem if you regularly eat proteins high in saturated fats, such as bacon or fatty cuts of beef — and potentially help reduce your risk of heart disease. A 2004 issue of the "Journal of Nutrition" found that eating a high-protein, low-fat diet, of which wheat gluten can be a part of, increased both the likelihood of weight loss and satisfaction with the diet in healthy adults.
- TheKitchn: Vital Wheat Gluten - What Is It and When Should It Be Used?
- USDA Nutrient Database: Vital Wheat Gluten
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Foods Are in The Protein Foods Group?
- Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention: Protein
- MedlinePlus: Phosphorous
- MedlinePlus: Iron in Diet
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Why Is It Important to Make Lean or Low-Fat Choices from the Protein Foods Group?
- Journal of Nutrition: High-Protein, Low-Fat Diets Are Effective for Weight Loss and Favorably Alter Biomarkers in Healthy Adults
- National Institutes of Health: Selenium