The health benefits of wheat depend entirely on the form in which you
There won't be many benefits at all if you select wheat that has been
processed into 60% extraction, bleached white flour. 60% extraction—the
standard for most wheat products in the United States, including breads,
noodles and pastas, baked goods like rolls or biscuits, and
cookies— means that 40% of the original wheat grain was removed, and only
60% is left. This is all refined flour, white all-purpose flour, refined wheat flour, refined white bread flour. Unfortunately, the 40% that gets removed includes the bran, the germ of the wheat grain - - its most nutrient-rich parts and the essential oil found in wheat. In the
process of making 60% extraction flour, over half of the vitamin B1, B2,
B3, E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, and fiber
Since 1941, laws in the United States have required "enrichment"
of processed wheat flour with vitamins B1, B2, B3 and iron in response
to the problems created by 60% extraction. Since not nearly as much of
these B vitamins and iron are replaced as are removed from 60%
extraction flour, "enriched" seems an odd word to describe this process.
Perhaps "odd" is simply a nice way of saying it is a lie. "Enriched" actually means to take the "whole" and "add" to it, thereby making the whole better - - it is not "enriching" to have stripped most all of the nutrients from the whole, leaving a substance that is no longer even considered "food", adding back in less than half of what was removed and calling the refined substance "enriched".
If you select 100% whole wheat products, however, the bran, the essential oils and
the germ of the wheat will remain in your meals, and the health benefits
will be impressive! Whole wheat (in its
original non-enriched form) qualifies as a very good source of dietary fiber and
manganese, and as a good source of magnesium.
The many benefits of whole wheat products are being recognized more and more by consumers. Even though many health-conscious individuals have been cutting back on their intake of total carbs and refined wheat products (by about 10% between 1997-2007), the demand for whole wheat products has actually increased during that same time period. This trend fits in well with a Mediterranean diet approach to health, which looks to lower overall carbs but higher whole grains, including whole wheat.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
underscores the importance of choosing whole rather than refined wheat
to maintain a healthy body weight.
In this Harvard Medical School /
Brigham and Women's Hospital study, which collected data on over 74,000
female nurses aged 38-63 years over a 12 year period, weight gain was
inversely associated with the intake of high-fiber,
whole-grain foods, such as whole wheat, but positively related to the intake of refined-grain foods, such as products made from refined wheat.
did women who consumed more whole grains consistently weigh less than
those who ate less of these fiber-rich foods, but those consuming the
most dietary fiber from whole grains were 49% less likely to gain weight
compared to those eating foods made from refined grains.
First we were told, "Don't eat fat, and you'll stay trim."
following this advice only to see obesity expand to never before seen
proportions, we're told by the food gurus, "Eating fat is fine. Shun
carbohydrates to stay slim."
In our opinion, neither piece of dietary advice is complete,
accurate or likely to help us stay slim or healthy.
Just as different
kinds of fats have different effects in our bodies (e.g., saturated and
trans fats are linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease while
omega-3 fats decrease cardiovascular disease risk), some carbohydrates,
such as whole grains, are healthful while others, such as refined
grains and the foods made from them, are not.
The latest research is clearly supporting this vital distinction.
Refined grains and the foods made from them (e.g., white breads,
cookies, pastries, pasta and rice) are now being linked not only to
weight gain but to increased risk of insulin resistance (the precursor
of type 2 diabetes) and the metabolic syndrome (a strong predictor of
both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease), while eating more
whole grain foods is being shown to protect against all these ills.
Common features of the metabolic syndrome include visceral obesity (the "apple shaped" body, belly fat, also called "wheat belly"), low levels of protective HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure.
In one of the most recent studies, which appeared in Diabetes Care,
researchers who analyzed data on over 2,800 participants in the
Framingham Offspring Study, found that the prevalence of both insulin
resistance and the metabolic syndrome was significantly lower among
those eating the most cereal fiber from whole grains compared to those
eating the least.
Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome was 38% lower among those
with the highest intake of fiber from whole grains.
subjects whose diets had the highest glycemic index and glycemic load,
both of which are typically low in whole foods and high in processed
refined foods, were 141% more likely to have the metabolic syndrome
compared to those whose diets had the lowest glycemic index and glycemic
load. In other words, the lower glycemic index and glycemic load were better (lower) for those whose diets were primarily
composed of whole high fiber foods: whole grains, legumes, vegetables
The researchers concluded, "Given that both a high cereal fiber
content and lower glycemic index are attributes of whole grain foods,
recommendation to increase whole grain intake may reduce the risk of
developing the metabolic syndrome."
A way of eating that relies on the healthiest foods from all the food groups—the whole foods that contain the healthiest fats, carbohydrates and proteins—is the most effective, intelligent, and most enjoyable way to not only lower your risk of developing the metabolic syndrome, but to stay slim, vital and attractive throughout a long and healthy life.
Whole grains are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a
co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the
body's use of glucose and insulin secretion.
The FDA permits foods that contain at least 51% whole grains by
weight (and are also low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol) to
display a health claim stating consumption is linked to lower risk of
heart disease and certain cancers. Now, research suggests regular
consumption of whole grains also reduces risk of type 2 diabetes. (van
Dam RM, Hu FB, Diabetes Care).
In this 8-year trial, involving 41,186 particpants of the Black
Women's Health Study, research data confirmed inverse associations
between magnesium, calcium and major food sources in relation to type 2
diabetes that had already been reported in predominantly white
Risk of type 2 diabetes was 31% lower in black women who
frequently ate whole grains compared to those eating the least of these
magnesium-rich foods. When the women's dietary intake of magnesium
intake was considered by itself, a beneficial, but lesser-19%-reduction
in risk of type 2 diabetes was found, indicating that whole grains offer
special benefits in promoting healthy blood sugar control.
Daily consumption of low-fat dairy foods was also helpful, lowering risk of type 2 diabetes by 13%.
"Our results support public health recommendations to replace refined grains with whole grains and suggest that at least two servings of whole grains per day should be consumed to reduce type 2 diabetes risk."
Wheat bran is not the only star when it comes to the health benefits
of wheat; wheat germ definitely deserves its "health food" reputation.
The 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.
Packed 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 casseroles, muffins,
and pancakes or sprinkled over cereal or yogurt.
The wheat germ also has a 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
in a similar manner 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.
Fats and cholesterol are very susceptible to
free radical damage, a process that occurs when they are exposed to
oxygen. When damaged, fats and cholesterol form toxic derivatives that,
if left unchecked, can damage the structures of which they are a part
and, in the case of cholesterol, contribute to the formation of
atherosclerosis, a form of coronary artery disease. Vitamin E, when
present in sufficient quantities, readily blocks these toxic
Vitamin E 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
The above information on this page is, in fair part, found on the website: The World's Healthiest Foods website. Found Penny Farm seeks no monetary gain from making this information available on it's site. This information is for educational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to not only continue research on this topic but also to consult their physicians regarding any medical conditions or issues which may arise from their dietary choices.
This site does not attempt to diminish viewship of the original website from which this information came. Graphics, images and emphasis were not part of the original texts. I encourage all readers to continue research into the health benefits of whole grain foods by visiting the website noted below:
For the rest of this excellent compilation of information on wheat - - please visit the site: http://www.whfoods.com/
The George Mateljan Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation with no commercial interests or advertising, is a new force for change to help make a healthier you and a healthier world.
The World's Healthiest Foods website is a leading source of information and expert on the Healthiest Way of Eating and Cooking. It's one of the most visited website on the internet when it comes to "Healthiest Foods" and "Healthiest Recipes" and comes up #1 on a Google search for these phrases.