Wheat is a cultivated grass that is used as a staple food worldwide. It can be used to make bread, cakes, pastries, pasta and couscous, and it can be fermented to make alcohol.
Unrefined wheat contains an excellent source of complex carbohydrates (starch), and 25 percent of the total carbohydrates is dietary fiber. This source of carbohydrates is ideal for diabetics because it takes longer to digest and absorb sugar into the bloodstream.
Gluten is the wheat protein, which constitutes about 20 to 25 percent of the caloric content. It is made up of proteins gliadin and glutenin, which are incomplete proteins. Therefore, you must eat other types of foods (rice, beans, lean meats) to complement in order to get all eight essential amino acids.
One hundred grams of unrefined wheat contains only 15 to 20 grams of unsaturated fat, which helps promote healthy cholesterol. Wheat products make an excellent substitution for higher-fat snacks and foods.
Wheat is rich in B-vitamins, such as thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and folate. All of these vitamins are needed for cellular respiration, disease prevention (beriberi and pellagra) and proper neural function.
Wheat is also an excellent source of iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphate, but the bioavailability to absorb these minerals (particularly iron) is less than what's found in animal sources because they are bound to the plant by protein bonds.
- "Perspectives in Nutrition"; Gordon Wardlaw and Margaret Kessel; 2002
- USDA Nutrition Database
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.