What is wheat protein?

What is wheat protein?


Wheat protein, also known as wheat gluten, is a natural protein derived from wheat grains. It is widely used in the food industry as a functional ingredient due to its unique properties. In this article, we will explore the characteristics, uses, and potential benefits of wheat protein.

What is Wheat Protein?

Wheat protein is a complex mixture of proteins found in wheat grains. It is primarily composed of two main proteins: gliadin and glutenin. When wheat flour is mixed with water, these proteins combine to form gluten, a sticky and elastic substance that gives dough its characteristic texture and elasticity.

Characteristics of Wheat Protein

Wheat protein possesses several unique characteristics that make it valuable in various applications. One of its notable properties is its ability to form a viscoelastic network when hydrated, which gives dough its ability to rise and retain its shape during baking. This property is particularly important in bread-making, where gluten provides the structure and texture of the final product.

Another characteristic of wheat protein is its high nutritional value. It contains essential amino acids, making it a good source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Additionally, wheat protein is low in fat and cholesterol, making it a healthier alternative to animal-based proteins.

Uses of Wheat Protein

Wheat protein is widely used in the food industry for its functional properties. It is commonly used as a vital ingredient in the production of bread, pasta, and other baked goods. Its ability to form a strong and elastic dough allows bread to rise and retain its shape during baking, resulting in a light and fluffy texture.

In addition to its role in baking, wheat protein is also used as a texturizing agent in vegetarian and vegan food products. It can be found in meat substitutes, such as veggie burgers and sausages, to provide a meat-like texture and improve the overall mouthfeel of the product.

Furthermore, wheat protein is utilized in the production of various processed foods, including breakfast cereals, snacks, and beverages. It acts as a binding agent, emulsifier, and stabilizer, enhancing the texture, appearance, and shelf life of these products.

Potential Benefits of Wheat Protein

Consuming wheat protein can offer several potential benefits. As mentioned earlier, it is a good source of protein, especially for individuals following a plant-based diet. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, supporting immune function, and maintaining overall health.

Moreover, wheat protein has been found to have a satiating effect, meaning it can help to promote feelings of fullness and reduce appetite. This can be beneficial for individuals looking to manage their weight or control their calorie intake.

It is worth noting that some individuals may have an intolerance or allergy to wheat protein, known as celiac disease or wheat allergy. For these individuals, consuming wheat protein can lead to digestive issues and other adverse reactions. It is important for them to avoid products containing wheat protein and opt for suitable alternatives.


Wheat protein, or wheat gluten, is a versatile ingredient with unique properties that make it valuable in the food industry. Its ability to form a viscoelastic network provides structure and texture to baked goods, while its nutritional value makes it a suitable protein source for vegetarians and vegans. Additionally, wheat protein is used as a texturizing agent and functional ingredient in various processed foods. However, it is important to note that some individuals may have allergies or intolerances to wheat protein, and they should avoid consuming it.


– Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: www.fao.org
– U.S. Department of Agriculture: www.usda.gov
– Food and Drug Administration: www.fda.gov