Semolina

Also known as durum flour, semolina is actually the endosperm (the part of a seed that functions as its food storage) of durum wheat. Semolina, when roughly ground, is utilized for making couscous and pasta. In the milling process the endosperm is separated from its bran by means of a process known as sifting. Subsequently, the dried endosperm is ground to make flour, which contains several nutrients such as iron, zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium, fat and even protein. However, it does not contain cholesterol or non-saturated fat.

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Durum wheat, which is also known as macaroni wheat, is a hard type of wheat containing elevated levels of gluten in addition to a high protein-carbohydrate ratio. Plainly speaking, the endosperm, found in the center of the wheat kernel, is a tissue that grows after the fertilization of a seed. It encloses the seed providing it with all the nutrients required by it while growing.

People in Europe as well as North America also use the flour made from semolina endosperm to make a type of sweet pudding that is usually served while it is warm. A same type of porridge is prepared by people in Sweden, Finland, Russia, Latvia and Estonia and it is usually served as breakfast. In India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, this flour is used for making popular desserts.

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Semolina or durum flour is used for several other purposes. For instance, people around the world use it to make bread. Moreover, this flour is used in the form of a thickener and added to stews and soups. Sometimes, this four is also used in form of a base for preparing souffl├ęs and it can be prepared in the same way as polenta. People in North America use semolina ground more coarsely since it is chipped. On the other hand, European mills grind semolina more finely giving the flour a finer consistency.

It is worth mentioning here that the term "semolina" can mean many other things too. Generally, semolina denotes a hot cereal for breakfast prepared from the endosperm of a type of wheat that is relatively softer compared to durum wheat. Sometimes, semolina also denotes any variety of grain that is coarsely ground, for instance corn semolina or rice semolina. Semolina can also denote a wheat product that is cooked to prepare foods for the elderly and infants.

Types of semolina

Made from durum wheat, semolina is pale yellowish flour that is used for a variety of food products. Often, it is usually used for making dried food products like pasta and couscous. Couscous is prepared by blending finely ground semolina and durum flour approximately in the ratio of 1:2. In broader terms, semolina may also refer to any food prepared from grains apart from wheat. For instance, corn semolina (generally called grits in the United States) and rice semolina.

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Semolina prepared from wheat varieties that are softer compared to durum wheat has a white color. The correct name of this type of semolina is flour. This variety of flour cannot be called semolina. In the US, the coarser variety of foods prepared from softer variety of wheat is called farina. Actually, foods prepared from the softer variety of wheat are of lower grade (having lesser protein content). Unlike food products made from durum flour, this variety of meals cannot retain their particular shape after cooking.

Health benefits of semolina

Meals made from semolina offer a number of health benefits. We all are aware that one reason why we gain weight is our hunger. When we consume an instant food or snack it satiates our hunger partially, but they do not provide our body either with the requisite energy or nutrients. In such cases, consuming foods prepared from semolina may be a wiser alternative. Findings of various studies have suggested that semolina possesses the ability to help people avoid hunger as meals made from it releases energy gradually. Since semolina has a rich fiber content, it also helps us to digest foods prepared from it.

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Semolina has a low glycemic index making foods prepared from it ideal for people suffering from diabetes. This is also because it helps to keep off hunger. Moreover, semolina provides the body with sufficient energy, thereby lowering the sugar levels in the bloodstream.

Energy obtained from consuming foods made from semolina is effectively used by the body as these foods release energy gradually. Hence, semolina is recommended highly for people who lead very active lifestyles. People consuming foods prepared from semolina are charged with energy and their performance too is enhanced. Moreover, such people hardly ever feel lethargic. If you add vegetables to your semolina meal it will make a complete meal sustaining you for a longer part of the day. Semolina contains a potassium compound, which helps to enhance the performance of your kidneys.

Semolina also contains the essential trace mineral selenium in abundance and it helps in strengthening the body's immune system. The high selenium content in semolina helps to prevent the heart from developing infections. At the same time, selenium helps to keep the heart healthy. Consuming foods prepared from semolina endorses the health of our cardiovascular system. Semolina helps to protect us from heart attacks, strokes and heart failures.

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In addition, selenium present in semolina serves as an antioxidant, thereby protecting the cell membranes and DNA cells from oxidation. Oxidation of these cells and cell membranes is detrimental for our health. Oxidation of the cells in the body causes various diseases, including ailments related to the heart. Hence, semolina is essential for our body as it provides it with enough amount of the vital mineral - selenium. Deficiency of this essential trace mineral may lead to a weaker immune system making us vulnerable to various diseases.

Other nutrients in semolina include vitamin B and vitamin E. These two vitamins are necessary for improving the immune system and help your body to combat various diseases effectively. In addition, consumption of foods prepared from semolina helps to improve the density of the bones, thereby helping to preserve their strength and keeping them healthy.

Semolina is known to be beneficial for our nervous system. As a result, the popularity of semolina is increasing every day. Apart from the nutrients mentioned above, semolina also contains magnesium, phosphorus and zinc - all these minerals are essential for maintaining a robust nervous system and help it to function optimally.

Deficiency of red blood cells (also known as RBC and erythrocytes) in the body results in anemia. Intake of iron helps to enhance the red blood cells in the body. As semolina fulfils the body's requirement for iron, it helps to prevent anemia. At the same, it promotes blood circulation. Semolina also provides the body with additional energy helping us to carry out our daily routine functions.

The fiber content of semolina helps to promote digestion by keeping the digestive system healthy. This, in turn, helps us to digest the ingested food easily and also promote bowel movement.

Interestingly, semolina is also beneficial for the skin. Since it contains elevation amount of protein, semolina is nourishing for the skin. It makes the skin healthier and gives it a youthful appearance.

As discussed earlier, semolina releases energy gradually ensuring that the body's energy level is not depleted or wasted. Therefore, semolina is recommended for people having active lifestyle. Food prepared from semolina refuels the body, thereby enhancing its performance. Semolina also does not make one feel tired.

The flour made from semolina endosperm is a high-quality source of various nutrients as well as essential minerals like fiber, saturated fats, trans fatty acids, and vitamin B complex. This food does not contain harmful fats. The cholesterol and sodium content of semolina too are very low.

Side effects and cautions

Although consuming foods made from semolina offer a number of health benefits, they may also have some adverse effects and, hence, one needs to be cautious while eating semolina. Like in the case of any other new foods, it is important that you study the potential health risks associated with semolina before you incorporate it in your meals. It is possible that some of you may already be taking semolina even without your knowledge. However, if you are taking semolina for the first time or if you intend to increase your intake of foods made from semolina significantly, it is always advisable that you should initially add this food to your diet in small amounts and increase the amount gradually after you are sure that it does not have any adverse effect on your body. While taking semolina it is important that you pay attention to ensure that there are no abrupt changes in your body.

While there are quite a few risks associated with consuming semolina, the biggest is that this food is exceptionally glutinous. In fact, semolina flour is ideal for making pasta, but it is not helpful if you are unable to eat gluten. It has been observed that the most common problem with gluten intake is intolerance or sensitivity faced by many people. People who have intolerance to gluten usually feel uncomfortable and experience bloating after consuming it. Some people may also develop a health condition known as celiac disease after gluten intake. Celiac disease occurs when an individual has severe intolerance to gluten or have wheat allergy, which is somewhat different from what we call gluten intolerance.

People who do not have gluten intolerance or sensitivity to wheat can consume semolina without any issues. However, it is essential that they should take this food in moderate amounts. The protein content of semolina is extremely high - one serving of semolina provides the body with nearly 6 grams of protein. In addition, semolina contains high amounts of B vitamins, including thiamine and folate. These B vitamins aid in generating energy and also support the healthy functioning of the brain. Another vital nutrient present in semolina is the essential trace mineral selenium, which works as an antioxidant and, thereby, protects the body from oxidation of cells, thereby preventing the occurrence of various diseases. The carbohydrate content of semolina is somewhat on the higher side. This means that people who are trying to control their carbohydrate intake should take this food only at regular intervals. When taken in moderate amounts there is no reason why semolina should not be safe for people who are free from wheat sensitivity and gluten intolerance.

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