Wheat is a plant which is widely grown for its seeds and forms one of the most staple and widely used grains in the world.
Wheat generally comprises of the genus Triticum, but the most common type grown us Triticum aestivum.
It belongs to the botanical order of Poales and the botanical family of Poaceae.
Historically, the cultivation and consumption of wheat as a staple food in the diet has been documented as early as 9600 BC as per records and excavations carried out in Fertile Crescent.
Nutritionally wheat is a storehouse of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, sulphur, potassium, silicon, copper, vitamin E and vitamin B.
Wheat also contains extremely generous amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, thiamine and folate among other components.
With the advances in technology, we have been able to mold the wheat crop so as to obtain the best possible yield and also obtain a better quality of crop.
Wheat that is now available is mainly two types, one is whole wheat where in the hull and the cover is not removed and the same is ground and sold. The other type is refined wheat where in the seed is put through various processes so as to remove the outer coverings and only the seeds are crushed to obtain wheat powder.
From the point of nutrition, it is believed that whole wheat is more beneficial nutritionally as it contains a larger percentage of the protein and fiber content which is otherwise lost when the wheat is refined.
Uses and benefits WHEAT
Wheat has a natural capacity to control obesity in all human beings. The same has been proven in a study carried out by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which proved that the intake and consumption of whole wheat in women is extremely beneficial in controlling obesity and thus help reducing weight.
Wheat is also rich in the trans or the good type of fat especially the omega 3 fatty acid group. As a result, this directly affects the blood cholesterol thereby lowering the same and having a positive effect on the blood and also the blood vessels as it prevents the formation of plaques that may lead to narrowing of the vessels. This directly helps lower blood pressure and keeps the heart healthy and helps avert and prevent any major cardiovascular disease or abnormality.
Magnesium is another mineral that is found in good quantities in wheat. Magnesium is required by the body as an important component for many chemical reactions and thus is extremely important for the harmonious functioning of the same.
It is important to note here that magnesium is also necessary to facilitate the production of insulin by the body and hence the consumption of wheat helps and aids with the same, thus helping lower the blood sugar levels.
Therefore, we can safely conclude that wheat is an extremely good substitute for rice especially in those who suffer from type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Wheat contains a chemical called as betaine. Betaine is responsible for carrying out the inflammatory reactions and responses in the body and thus proves that wheat also has certain anti inflammatory properties.
Apart from wheat, betaine is also found in generous amounts in spinach and beet.
Autoimmune disorders such as arthritis which involve inflammatory changes can thus also be controlled owing to the betaine content in wheat.
Betaine also helps lower the risk of heart ailments, Alzheimers, cognitive disorders and bone related diseases such as osteoporosis.
The increased fiber content in wheat also has a direct action on the gall bladder as it prevents the occurrence of gall stones. This occurs as a result of the fiber that helps with a quick and smooth passage of the food through the intestinal tract and thus preventing any loops or lumps of undigested food being stuck or remained in the same.
This thus helps improve the bowel health and also promotes the growth of the good bacteria and eliminates bacteria that may otherwise harm the intestines and lead to infections or even cancers.
Thus, wheat is also known as a laxative owing to its property to flush the bowel out.
Thus a grain diet with a good quantity of fiber can be advised in cases of intestinal infections such as diverticulitis as it helps clean and clear the intestinal tract and also remove the bacteria that may cause the infection.
A recent has also shown that the intake of wheat especially in menopausal women helps reduce the risk of colon cancer and gastrointestinal tract related infections and diseases.
This primarily occurs due to wheat bran which is checks the increased levels of estrogen especially in the menopausal age group of women and which can has been linked to the development of cancers especially that of the breast, colon and the cervix.
A similar study carried out in Britain also confirmed the property of wheat lowering the estrogen levels of the body thus helping reduce instances of cancer in women.
Wheat also contains a component called as lignan which is biochemically a phytonutrient and act in a similar manner as hormones.
These lignans help check increased levels of estrogen thus preventing diseases such as cancers as has been mentioned above in detail.
Wheat bran is known to reduce the secretion of bile in the liver and also helps remove and expel bacteria from the intestinal tract through passage of stool.
The International study in allergy and asthma in childhood had come to a conclusion that those children who were fed wheat and wheat products has a lesser chance of developing childhood asthma.
It was also concluded that owing to the presence of nutrients such as Vitamin E and magnesium helped with countering and reducing the hypersensitive reaction that would lead to the development of the asthma, thus being extremely helpful in the prevention of such disorders in children.
This can also be contradicted as certain asthmatics can be allergic to wheat and the consumption of the same by them should be avoided.
Wheat also has benefits on the heart and helps protect from developing cardiovascular diseases and lowers blood pressure. This is especially seen in menopausal women.
Thus women who are nearing menopause or who have attained menopause are advised to consume a diet that is rich in wheat as it prevents further complications from occurring
Wheat is known to cause allergies in certain persons who maybe susceptible to the same.
These may range from a mild rash, hives, itching to full blown respiratory distress in extremely hypersensitive cases.
Wheat is also known to contain oxalates. Excess of oxalates can deposit as crystals in the body and lead to complications such as the occurrences of kidney stones and thus need to be avoided in those having prior tendencies to the same.
Thus we are able to understand the importance of wheat as a crop and how the same is important both for its health as well as dietary benefits and has come to become one of the most widely consumed grains all over the world.