Wheat, in its natural unrefined state, features a host of important nutrients. The health benefits of wheat depend entirely on the form in which you eat it. These benefits will be few if you select wheat that has been processed into bleached white flour.
This flour is used in making breads, noodles, pasta and confectioneries. By means of processing, 40 per cent of the original wheat grain (the bran and the germ of the wheat which are the most nutrient-rich parts) has been removed, and only 60 per cent is left.
In addition, over half of the vitamin B1, B2, B3, E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, and fibre are lost. So, we end up eating the chaff. Therefore, to receive benefit from the wholesomeness of wheat it is important to choose wheat products made from whole wheat flour rather than those that are refined and stripped of their natural goodness.
Wheat bran is a very good laxative that helps regulate our bowel movement. Studies have also shown that a high fibre diet alleviates the symptoms of diverticulosis. This condition is often marked by inflammation and lower abdominal pains in which chronic constipation and excessive straining results in a pouch in the wall of the colon. Regular intake of bulk laxatives like wheat bran and whole wheat bread eases bowel movement which in turn reduces straining which arises as a result of the constipation.
The wheat germ is the vitamin and mineral rich embryo of the wheat kernel that is removed during the refining of whole wheat grains to white flour. Loaded with important B vitamins, such as folate, thiamin, and vitamin B6, and the minerals zinc, magnesium, and manganese, wheat germ is a top-notch food that can be easily incorporated into our meals. We can sprinkle it into our soups, tea, over cereal or even use it in our baked products.
The wheat germ also has high oil content, and subsequently a high amount of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the oil in the wheat germ from quickly becoming rancid. Vitamin E functions as a fat-soluble antioxidant in the human body where it helps protect fat-containing substances including cell membranes, brain cells, and fatty molecules such as cholesterol from damage by free radicals.
When damaged, fats form toxic derivatives that can damage the structures of which they are a part while cholesterol contributes to the formation of plagues in the arteries. Vitamin E, when present in sufficient quantities, readily blocks these toxic derivatives.
This vitamin not only protects fats, cholesterol and all cell membranes from damage, it is also important for immune system function, cancer prevention and blood glucose control in both healthy and diabetic individuals. The next time, you visit the market or enter a store to buy any product made from wheat, try to read labels to be sure that you are buying a product made from whole wheat.