What is wheat muscle?
Muscolo di grano is the name of a food product based on fine wheat flour, enriched with legume flour (soy, lentils, peas, etc.), various oils and aromas.
Born as a vegetable alternative to meat, the wheat muscle is sold in formats of different sizes and flavors, which follow the shape of traditional meat foods, such as: steaks, fillets, stews, roast cuts, cold cuts etc., to be sautéed.
When to use wheat muscle?
- Wheat muscle is a valid alternative to meat, not only for vegetarians, but also for those who want to reduce the protein and animal fat content in their diet.
- Being a food low in fat and calories, but particularly rich in proteins, the wheat muscle can also find ample space in the nutrition of sportsmen and in low-calorie diets.
Property and Effectiveness
What benefits has the wheat muscle shown?
Wheat muscle, amino acids and biological value
One of the "defects" most often attributed to foods of plant origin - used as a substitute for meat, fishery products, eggs, milk and derivatives - is the lack in some essential amino acids, which makes the biological protein value inadequate. On the other hand, thanks to the integration of cereal proteins with those of legumes, the wheat muscle has a good biological value. In fact, the deficiencies in amino acids of the flours mutually compensate each other: wheat is poor in lysine, but contains sulfur amino acids (methionine and cysteine), while legumes are poor in sulfur amino acids, but contain lysine.
Since the wheat muscle:
- compensates for the lack of essential amino acids,
- favors the recommended proportion between animal and plant proteins in the diet (1: 2/1: 3 - 1: 1 only during growth),
it can replace meat in multiple weekly meals (but, as we will see, not in all).
Wheat and fat muscle
Unlike protein foods of animal origin (meat, sausages, cheeses, eggs, etc.), often rich in saturated fats and cholesterol (see in-depth article), the wheat muscle contains only cereals and legumes; these ingredients are cholesterol-free and very low in saturated fats, but they contain fiber and nutrients that are beneficial for the metabolism, such as:
- Essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA):
- Linoleic acid (LA omega 6), essential precursor of the other fatty acids of the same series.
- Alpha linolenic acid (ALA omega 3), essential precursor of the other fatty acids of the same series.
- Isoflavones: phytosterol precursors with cholesterol-lowering, antioxidant and estrogen-like activity
- Lecithins: complex molecules, formed by fats and proteins, which act as an emulsifier and reduce cholesterolemia.
Note : Although soy is the richest ingredient in PUFA, isoflavones and lecithins, the nutritional information reported on the commercial wheat muscle label almost never shows a satisfactory quantitative detail.
The metabolic impact of wheat muscle is therefore opposite to most animal foods. It is possible to partially replace this last category with wheat muscle:
- Reduce total hypercholesterolemia and LDL
- Reduce hypertriglyceridemia
- Reduce hypertension
- Counteracting oxidative stress, responsible for increasing the incidence of tumors and premature aging
- Protect the function of the macro and the microcirculation
- Reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases
- Combat constipation.
Doses and Mode of Use
How to use wheat muscle?
Wheat muscle intake changes based on the total composition of the diet and the characteristics of the subject being analyzed.
The average portion for a healthy adult is more or less than 100-200 g (from the sedentary woman to the sportsman) but, with regard to the frequency of consumption, the question becomes more complicated.
- Following a VEGAN diet, wheat muscle CANNOT be considered a substitute for food of animal origin. In this case it is necessary to use food supplements or drugs that compensate for specific nutritional deficiencies.
- On the contrary, for those who respect an omnivorous diet or a MILK-OVO-vegetarian diet, the wheat muscle can completely replace meat and fish.
There are no side effects related to wheat muscle intake but, as we will describe in the next section, there is a certain risk of adverse reactions related to individual hypersensitivity.
When should the wheat muscle not be used?
The contraindications linked to the intake of wheat muscle are limited to possible forms of subjective hypersensitivity, such as intolerance and food allergy:
- Due to the presence of gluten, the wheat muscle is not suitable for the celiac diet.
- Furthermore, the presence of soy protein makes it contraindicated to the diet of people allergic to this legume.
Which drugs or foods can change the effect of wheat muscle?
No chemical interactions are known between the wheat muscle and any drug therapy.
Precautions for Use
What do you need to know before taking the wheat muscle?
Given the low content of bio-available iron and the absence of vitamin B12 (cobalamin), the wheat muscle cannot be placed in the same food group as the meat.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency can be dangerous, especially during pregnancy, when it is essential for correct fetal development. Moreover, anyone suffering from a cobalamin deficiency risks contracting megaloblastic anemia and other disorders.
- The bioavailable iron deficiency can instead trigger iron deficiency anemia, especially in fertile women and even more probably in pregnant women (who, again due to the growth of the unborn child, have a very high iron requirement).
Video on Wheat Muscle
Video Lesson: the wheat muscle and its properties
In this video our personal cooker Alice illustrates the production phases and the nutritional properties of the wheat muscle, comparing them with those of another vegetable meat (the seitan).
Watch the videoX Watch the video on youtube
Video Recipe - Homemade wheat muscle
See also the recipe for home-made seitan and the stew of vegetable meat based on wheat muscle.