Wheat berries are the edible part of the wheat kernel, including the wheat bran, the germ, and the endosperm, before the grain undergoes any processing. The bran is the hard outer layer of the wheat kernel. It is full of various nutrients like vitamin B and fibre. At the same time, the germ is the nutrient-rich core packed with vitamin E and essential fatty acids. The endosperm is the energy-rich middle layer with proteins and carbohydrates.
Wheat berries provide the best of all worlds with an immense nutritional profile. The speciality of wheat berries is that they do not undergo refining or processing during manufacturing. It multiplies the benefits that the superfood offers. However, the wheat grains usually lose bran and some germ during processing methods like milling. As a result, the grains can lose up to 40% of their nutritional value during processing, reducing their benefits.
The consumption of wheat berries offers both preventive and curative benefits. It is also an excellent source of vegetarian protein. Furthermore, a study shows that the wheat proteins exhibit remarkable nutritional complementarity when combined with other foods such as legumes or oilseeds.
Nutritional Value of Wheat Berries
Wheat Berries contain a wide array of macronutrients and micronutrients. As per USDA, 100 grams of wheat berries contains:
- Calories: 354 kCal
- Protein: 18.75 g
- Carbohydrates: 66.67 g
- Fats: 3.12 g
- Fibre: 8.3 g
Vitamins and Minerals
- Iron: 4.5 mg
- Calcium: 83 mg
- Magnesium: 125 mg
- Phosphorus: 417 mg
- Zinc: 4.69
- Vitamin A: 208 IU
The HealthifyMe Note
Wheat Berries have a diverse range of macronutrients and micronutrients. They are high in protein, moderate in carbohydrates, and extremely low in fats. They are incredibly high in fibre and contain no harmful elements like sugar, sodium, unsaturated and trans fat. In addition, several essential vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, manganese, copper, and pantothenic acid are present.
Health Benefits of Wheat Berries
There are many preventive and curative benefits of consuming wheat berries. Some of them include:
Wheat Berries Can Lower the Risk of Diabetes
Wheat Berries have a low glycemic index (GI), meaning they do not increase blood sugar levels much. The GI of wheat berries is approximately 30. The GI ranges up to 100, with foods under 55 considered low GI. Several studies show that consuming low GI foods helps regulate blood sugar levels and insulin secretion. As a result, it helps reduce the risk of type2 diabetes.
Weight Loss and Weight Management
Low GI foods like wheat berries are also high in fibre. A high fibre intake aids weight loss by keeping you fuller for a long period of time and improve your overall gut health. So, consuming fibre-rich food reduces your hunger and the urge to munch on foods frequently. As a result, it reduces your calorie intake. Studies have proven that low GI foods have proven to be beneficial for weight loss in patients.
Reduces LDL (Bad) Cholesterol
Studies show low GI diets limit the rate of enzymes involved in cholesterol synthesis by reducing insulin levels. Another research indicates that dietary fibre reduces bile acid and cholesterol reabsorption. Hence, low GI and high fibre foods like wheat berries can help regulate blood cholesterol levels.
Reduces the Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases
Wheat berries are rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fibre and are low in GI. Therefore, they can prevent and reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions like heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, etc. In addition, a study shows that consuming low GI foods can minimise clot formation. It shows a 53% reduction in blood clot formation in people after 24 days on a low GI diet compared to those with a high GI diet.
Improves Digestive Health
The high fibre content in wheat berries improves digestive health. It is because whole grains help prevent constipation by keeping the stool soft and bulky. In addition, a 26-year study on 170,776 women showed a reduced risk of a gastrointestinal disorder called Crohn’s disease in women consuming a high fruit fibre intake.
Wheat Berries Protect Against Cancer
Whole grains have proven to be a game-changer against certain cancers because they are rich in cancer-fighting agents like fibre, antioxidants, and phytoestrogens. Several studies show that whole grains like wheat berries are effective against gastrointestinal cancers like gastric and colonic. They have also proven effective against breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Improves Bone Strength
Wheat berries are full of calcium and iron. However, an overlooked mineral in this group is manganese. Wheat berries have an adequate amount of manganese. A study suggests that manganese is highly effective in increasing bone strength. Manganese positively impacts all aspects of bone strength like bone mineralisation and synthesis of bone cartilage and collagen.
Anaemia is a disorder in which the body lacks the formation of healthy red blood cells. As a result, it can lead to fatigue, pale complexion, and chest discomfort. The common causes are dietary deficiencies such as a lack of iron, folate, or vitamin B12. Therefore, iron-rich foods, such as wheat berries, can help avoid iron deficiency anaemia and maintain healthy red blood cell development.
Wheat berries are a good source of iron, with each quarter-cup serving supplying 10% of the daily required amount. To aid with iron absorption, combine wheat berries with other iron-rich meals like grass-fed beef, lentils, and spinach, as well as vitamin C-rich foods.
Ways to Include Wheat Berries in Your Diet
- Wheat berries are so versatile that you can use them to prepare various dishes from simple to complex and from sweet to savoury.
- The most basic preparation would be to cook them in boiling water like other grains. Cover them with plenty of water, bring them to a boil, and then simmer them in a pot until they soften.
- You can use them like porridge for morning breakfast. You can also use wheat berries instead of quinoa, rice, and millets. Additionally, you can use them in the main dish like wheat pulao.
- You can incorporate them into salads by adding vegetables and dressings of choice.
- You can also serve wheat berries with fruits, yoghurt, and milk, like oatmeal, to satisfy your sweet tooth. They can also be given an Italian spin and made into risotto!
Delicious Wheat Berry Recipes
- Easy Wheat Berry Salad
- Wheat berries: 100 g
- Carrot (peeled and sliced): 1
- Cucumber (peeled and sliced): 1
- Apple: 1
- Lemon juice: 2 tbsp
- Honey: 1 tbsp
- Salt: ½ tsp
- Black Pepper: ½ tsp
- Water: 200 ml
- Add wheat berries to boiling water and return to boiling on a low flame.
- Simmer and cover up to around 40 mins.
- Drain and transfer into a large bowl. Allow it to cool down.
- Whisk together lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
- Add this dressing over the cooled wheat berries.
- Add apple, carrot, and cucumber.
- Toss the salad to coat the dressing and serve.
- You can add extra-virgin olive oil for some extra texture and healthy fats.
- Wheat Berry Pulao
- Wheat berries: 100 g
- Oil: 1 tsp
- Onion: ½ chopped
- Capsicum: ½ chopped
- Green Peas: 50 g
- Garlic: 4-5 cloves chopped
- Coriander powder: 1 tsp
- Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
- Green chilli: 1, chopped
- Rinse the wheat berries and soak them overnight in 2 cups of water.
- Add some oil to a pressure cooker and put it on medium flame.
- Add onions and stir until they are golden brown.
- Add capsicum, chilli, and peas, and cook for a minute.
- Add the rinsed wheat berries and salt.
- Cook on medium for two whistles in a pressure cooker, then on low flame for two more whistles.
- Garnish and serve.
Precautions & Possible Side Effects of Wheat Berries
Some associated conditions include:
Wheat allergy is an allergic reaction to eating foods containing wheat. Allergic reactions can also be caused by inhaling wheat flour. The symptoms include itching, irritation in the throat and mouth, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, skin rashes, hives, nose congestion, etc.
It is an autoimmune condition where the body launches an immune response in the small intestine when consuming gluten. Unfortunately, the reaction eventually damages the lining of the small intestine. It further prevents the absorption of nutrients leading to many other conditions.
Non-Celiac Gluten sensitivity
Symptoms include headache and fatigue, but this condition is not an allergy or autoimmune-related.
The HealthifyMe Note
Wheat can cause issues to certain people due to the gluten found in it. Gluten is a protein that can cause side effects in some people. However, most people can eat wheat berries or any wheat products without any issue.
Wheat berries are the edible portion of a wheat kernel that includes the wheat bran, germ, and endosperm before processing the grain. The wheat kernel, germ and endosperm offer various healthy nutrients. That makes wheat berries a nutrient-dense superfood with immense health benefits. For example, it aids weight loss, reduces cardiovascular disease risk, manages LDL (bad) cholesterol, improves digestive health, and prevents diabetes.
Wheat berries are unrefined or unprocessed, which keeps their nutritional value intact. Wheat berries are incredibly versatile and can be a part of various dishes for all meals. However, you should consume them in moderation and after proper consultation from a qualified doctor. Wheat berries can cause allergic reactions in some people as they contain gluten. People with wheat allergy, celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity should avoid wheat berries.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Are wheat berries good for you?
A. Moderate consumption of wheat berries can be healthy for you because they are rich in several essential minerals and vitamins. For example, they are high in protein, moderate in carbohydrates, and have little fats. They are also high in dietary fibre and devoid of cholesterol. Wheat berries also have micronutrients like zinc, iron, manganese, calcium, and phosphorus. Furthermore, they are whole grains and do not undergo refinement or processing. Hence, they offer several health benefits like reducing cardiovascular disease risk, weight loss, healthy digestion, prevention of cancer etc.
Q. What are the benefits of wheat berry?
A. Wheat berries have multiple health benefits due to their rich nutritional profile. Their benefits include helping in weight loss, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, managing LDL (bad) cholesterol, improving digestive health, and preventing diabetes. They also help strengthen the bones and prevent anaemia. They have also proven effective against certain cancers like gastric, breast, and prostate.
Q. Are wheat berries a superfood?
A. Superfood is a food claimed to confer health benefits from exceptional nutrient density. The nutritional profile, health benefits, and versatility of wheat berries make them a superfood.
Q. Are wheat berries healthier than rice?
A. Wheat berries are certainly better than rice, especially white rice. Unlike white rice, wheat berries have a low glycemic index which does not allow blood sugar levels to increase that much. Wheat berries also possess complex carbohydrates that keep an individual satiated and prevents overeating. The protein content in wheat berries is way more than rice as well.
Q. Should you soak wheat berries?
A. It would be better to soak them as it would reduce cooking time and make them a bit plumper and tender. However, it is not mandatory to soak wheat berries. It also depends on the preparations. For example, some dishes like pulao require overnight soaking. On the other hand, some dishes like porridge or salads do not require soaking. Instead, you can boil them and use them for preparations.
Q. Can you eat whole wheat berries?
A. Yes. You can eat the whole wheat berries as they are the entire edible part of wheat kernels, containing the germ, the bran, and the endosperm. The bran is the hard outer layer of the wheat kernel, the grain is the nutrient-rich core, and the endosperm is the energy-rich middle layer. However, you should not eat them raw as they are hard to chew. Hence, it is best to soak, boil or cook them before consumption.
Q. Are wheat berries Keto?
A. No. The Ketogenic diet is a high-fat and highly low-carbohydrate diet. Wheat berries have a moderate amount of carbohydrates and very few fats. It is a portion of proper whole food you can eat throughout your life. On the other hand, keto is just a short-term diet for rapid fat loss.
Q. Can wheat berries be eaten raw?
A. Since wheat berries are too hard to chew, you should not eat them raw. Instead, it is better to consume cooked wheat berries, like any grain. You can also soak them overnight and cook them. They still possess a nutty texture. However, eating raw is not recommended.
Q. Are wheat berries good for weight loss?
A. Yes! They are high in fibre and have a low glycemic index, making you feel satiated and preventing overeating. In addition, they are high in protein, moderate in carbohydrates, and negligible in fats. Hence, wheat berries possess all the essential nutrients to help lose weight.
Q. What is the difference between whole wheat and wheat berries?
A. Wheat berries are the actual source of all wheat products. They are wheat at its most basic because they do not undergo any refinement or processing. However, wheat available in the market may undergo some processing and refinement. Hence, wheat berries are more nutritious than wheat.
Q. Do wheat berries have fibre?
A. Yes. As per the USDA, 100 grams of wheat berries have 12.5 grams of fibre. Therefore, the dietary fibre in wheat berries gives it an edge over several other foods and makes them healthy.
Q. What is the nutritional value of wheat berries?
A. As per USDA, 100 grams of wheat berries contains:
- Calories: 333 kcals
- Protein: 14.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 68.75 g
- Fats: 2.08 g
- Fibre: 12.5 g
- Iron: 3.75 mg
- Calcium: 42 mg
- Sodium: 0 mg
Q. Are wheat berries high in carbohydrates?
A. They are moderately high in carbohydrates. However, they are complex carbohydrates, and one can feel full after consuming them. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy in our bodies. A balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Consuming wheat berries and a balanced diet will never hurt your fat loss or health goal.