Wheat

Triticum genus

Herbs gallery - Wheat

Common names

  • Wheat

Wheat is a grass (Triticum genus) that is cultivated in many regions of the world for its grain, which is among the most common staple food globally. Innumerable varieties of wheat are cultivated worldwide and consumed in the form of a cereal grain.

Wheat has its origin in south-western Asia. The term wheat denotes different herbs classified in the Triticum genus. In fact, worldwide wheat is grown in most number of farms, second only to corn. In earlier times, people used to consume wheat grains raw. Later, they consumed it fried and also boiled it in water underneath to prepare flat cakes. It is only recently, people in the occidental culture have been using wheat grains to prepare various different types of foods.

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This food grain is extremely popular across the world for the outstanding health benefits it offers. In numerous countries, wheat is not only a staple food, but it also serves as an important constituent of several cooking dishes. The wheat grain comprises three different parts - endosperm, germ and bran. A highly nourishing food grain, wheat encloses several potent vitamins, essential minerals and other nutrients. In its unprocessed or unrefined form, the concentration of nutrients in wheat is at its maximum because much of the natural substances of this food grain are lost during processing.

This food grain is a member of the family of Poaceae and belongs to the genus of Triticum. Wheat has many health benefits, including its anti-inflammatory property. In addition, it offers us many gastrointestinal health benefits. Wheat is also considered to be an excellent food for the health of our heart. Findings of several studies have shown that consuming wheat and its various products have many health advantages. This food grain has a vital role in maintaining the health of our heart in various different ways. It has been established that wheat is an excellent food for people suffering from cardiovascular and coronary diseases.

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As far as the wheat plant is considered, it is a type of grass having elongated and slender leaves. In most varieties of wheat the stem of the plant is usually hollow. The inflorescences of this plant comprise different number of tiny flowers. These flowers may vary from 20 to 100 in number. The flowers of wheat plant come in clusters of two to six and they appear in structures called spikelets. Later, these structures accommodate two to three grains that are produced after the flowers are pollinated. Wheat is cultivated in places having different climatic conditions and soils. However, this plant grows best in places having temperate climatic conditions with average rainfall between 30 cm and 90 cm annually. There are two major types of wheat - one grown in the winter, while the other is grown in spring. The harshness of the winter at a particular place determines whether it is suitable for cultivation of spring or winter variety of wheat. The winter variety of wheat is necessarily sown during the fall. On the other hand, as the name suggests, the spring variety of wheat is usually sown during spring. However, the spring variety may also be sown in fall in places where winters are not very harsh.

Parts used

Grains.

Uses

Several foods like bread, bagels, cakes, crackers, muffins and pasta are made from wheat. These are some common food examples of wheat products, there are numerous such items prepared and consumed by millions across the world. Perhaps, wheat products are the most wholesome food times, as they not only ensure a complete diet, but also provide adequate nutrition to the body as well as the mind. Finds of various studies have established that wheat has incredible properties and is extremely beneficial for a healthy life. Consumption of wheat reduces the risks of heart diseases considerably, as it contains relatively low amount of fats. Moreover, this food grain controls the blood sugar levels in diabetic people.

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Wheat possesses the natural potential to control everyone's body weight. However, studies have shown that is property of wheat is more prominent in women. Obese people can gain significantly if they choose to consume whole wheat rather than food products made from refined wheat.

It is well known that consuming foods rich in trans and saturated fats increases the risks of developing cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, foods rich in omega-3 fats decrease the risks of developing cardiovascular disease. Consuming whole grains such as wheat is extremely beneficial for people suffering from metabolic disorders. Some common types of metabolic disorders include a condition called visceral obesity, which is also known as the "pear shaped" body, poor levels of the protective high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides and high blood pressure. Consumption of wheat helps to protect the body from all the above conditions.

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Findings of many studies have shown that foods prepared with refined grains not only have a propensity to contribute to weight gain, but they also increase the risks of insulin resistance. Medical practitioners, therefore, recommend consumption of whole wheat or brown bread together with various other foods that are rich in fiber content. Dietary fiber is useful for our body because it facilitates the body's digestive process and, at the same time, it improves the metabolic process in general. Perhaps consumption of whole wheat diet is the most effectual, quick and pleasurable way to reduce the risks of developing metabolic syndrome. In addition, it also helps us to remain healthy and slim all through one's life.

Consuming whole grains not only help in stopping the body from taking up low density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol, but they may also help to reduce the levels of triglycerides in the body. Both LDL and triglycerides have been found to be responsible for various diseases we suffer. In general, consuming whole grains helps to reduce the risks of developing most types of heart diseases. Findings of one study concluded that women who consumed at least 2 or 3 servings of foods made from whole grains daily have 30 per cent less chances of suffering a heart attack. They are also less likely to die due to heart disease compared to other women who consumed less than one whole grain serving in a week. Any type of whole grain including, oats, whole wheat, brown rice, corn, barley, rye, buckwheat, quinoa and millet, offer us numerous health benefits to the heart compared to refined grains.

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Wheat contains betaine, which helps in putting off prolonged inflammation. Generally, betaine is found in whole wheat, spinach as well as beets. Inflammation is one of the main symptoms of several forms of rheumatic pains as well as a number of rheumatic diseases. Hence, consuming sufficient amount of whole wheat, which is naturally healthy, is an excellent way to reduce inflammation. It has been established that using betaine influences several aspects in the body's chemistry as it is effective in reducing the risks of suffering from prolonged inflammation. At the same time, it offers other health benefits, especially to patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, type-2 diabetes and cognitive decline.

As far as the benefits of consuming whole grains vis-à-vis the health of the heart is concerned, they do not end with reducing the "bad" cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body. Apart from these, whole grains also help to regulate the blood pressure - which is perhaps the most important factor for suffering heart-related diseases. Findings of one study showed an average of 19 percent reduction in the risks of developing high blood pressure (hypertension) in people who have a breakfast with whole grains compared to those who consumed very few servings of food prepared from whole grains. Studies undertaken on women showed that whole grain consumption offered them additional benefits.

Findings of several studies undertaken by the American Journal of Gastroenterology have verified that cereals and breads made with whole wheat helped women from developing gallstones. As whole wheat is rich in fiber content, ingested foods made from wheat have a smooth and fast transition through the intestines, thereby reducing the amount of bile acid secretions. Secretion of too much bile acid is a major reason for formation of gallstone.

Aside from its nutritional value, wheat is a popular and easily available bulk laxative. Consuming three cups of wheat daily is adequate to ensure a long lifespan. In addition, it keeps an individual healthy as well as free from diseases. Maintaining a regular diet that is rich in fiber content and comprises wheat cereals and breads that contain high concentration of bran ensures that we will be by and large free from health issues such as pain, nausea, distension, constipation and flatulence. Even if they problems arise, they will disappear in no time owing to the health benefits of wheat, especially whole grain wheat. Often one suffers from diverticulitis due to inflammation and intestinal pains. Though the condition is not harmful as such, it may result in discomfort. At times, diverticulitis may also lead to enduring constipation and unnecessary straining. This may, in turn, result in formation of pouch or sac inside the wall of the colon. One may take care of these problems by simply by taking a fiber-rich diet on a regular basis. Consuming whole grain wheat products will not only help to keep such problems at bay, but also get rid of them when they occur.

It is believed that when the diet of menopausal women primarily comprises whole grain wheat products it helps to put off all kinds of problems related to the heart. Consuming whole grain cereal everyday is one of the best ways to avoid such ailments from occurring. In fact, doctors also recommend consumption of a lot of whole grain wheat products to women enduring health issues like high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure (hypertension) or any signs and symptoms related to cardiovascular ailments. Findings of a study have concluded that taking a diet high in whole grains slows down the progression of atherosclerosis, which is considered to be the beginning of plague build-up inside the arteries and other blood vessels. In this way, consumption of whole grain cereals, especially whole grain wheat and its products, helps to reduce the risks of suffering strokes and heart attacks.

It is important for children's health to have a proper digestion of the foods they ingest. If the digestive system fails to function properly, it leads to various diseases in them. Since wheat can be digested quite easily, it not only helps in maintaining healthy intestines, but also reduces the chances of flatulence.

Foods made from wheat needs to be chewed properly, which in some way helps to improve the oral health too. At the same time, the chewing process helps in promoting blood circulation in the gums. Moreover, chewing also helps to put off formation of dental cavities.

Compared to other grains, it is easier to digest wheat. Hence, consumption of wheat is beneficial for the health of babies, especially toddlers. Frequent consumption of wheat and its various products can also reduces nausea, flatulence, pain in the intestines and help in preventing many other problems.

Consumption of whole wheat also offers several other health advantages. This type of wheat contains large amounts of fiber. Compared to the dietary fiber present in vegetables and fruits, the fiber in whole wheat is said to be much more effectual. Among the various advantages of dietary fiber, it is important for keeping the digestive system healthy and clean. Dietary fiber present in whole wheat also helps to reduce the chances of suffering from constipation as it facilitates bowel movement.

Habitat and cultivation

Wheat is not only among the most widely food grains consumed worldwide, but this food grain is also commonly accessible across the globe. In recent times, the demand for wheat has been growing increasingly owing to the numerous health benefits offered by this food grain. Over a period of time, wheat has been successful in establishing itself to possibly be the most effectual and sustainable food grain on this planet. Although wheat has its origin in south-west Asia, today this cereal grain is cultivated in numerous countries across the globe. In general, wheat has been found to be cultivated at higher latitudes and is primarily used for baking breads and other similar products.

The wheat plant has a preference of full sunlight, soil containing clay-loam or loan and conditions varying from mesic to dry-mesic. A number of wheat varieties (especially the winter wheat) are sown in the fall. Other varieties (such as the spring variety) of this cereal grain are sown in spring. The winter variety of wheat, however, can be sown even during spring in places where winters are not very harsh.

Constituents

Wheat contains lots of healthy nutrients. However, whole wheat is more beneficial compared to refined wheat. Unprocessed or unrefined wheat contains nutrients like dietary fiber, complex carbohydrates and reasonable amounts of proteins. Compared to wheat flour, the sprouted wheat contains high quantities of calcium, catalytic elements, chlorine, mineral salts, potassium, magnesium and even some amount of sulfur.

Other nutrients present in wheat include vitamin B, vitamin E, copper, iodine, manganese, arsenic, zinc and silicon. In addition, this cereal grain encloses plenty of antioxidants, particularly carotenoids like beta-carotene.

In the heart of the wheat kernel is the wheat germ, which is especially rich in vitamin E content. In addition, the wheat germ is said to be primary source of vitamin B complex. The vitamin B complex present in wheat germ includes folic acid, thiamine and vitamin B6. The oil contained in wheat germ helps to augment vigour and also increases a person's lifespan.

The external stratum of the wheat kernel, wheat bran also contains several nutrients. It has high concentrations of antioxidants like flavonoids, ferulic acid, lutein, lignans, alkylresorcinols, saponins and phytic acid.

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