Wheat – a cereal grain that is much healthier than we give it credit for
Whether in bread or pasta, wheat is the main ingredient of many staple foods. Although many unnecessarily avoid it, it is a great source of B vitamins.
Wheat has been cultivated as a grain for more than 10,000 years. Due to the many hybrids, there are always new varieties of wheat available. Today, there are over 1,000 different species known which vary seasonally and are differentiated into summer and winter wheat. The summer version is sown in spring and the winter version in autumn. Both varieties are harvested in summer.
In recent years, wheat has gotten a bad reputation because of its ingredients. It is sometimes regarded as the reason for excessive weight gain and bowel problems. Particularly the gluten contained in wheat flour is often held accountable for abdominal pain. Although it is true that some people suffer from gluten intolerances and wheat sensitivity, the proportion of people affected is actually quite small.
325 kcal per 100g
59.6g carbohydrate, 13.3g fibre, 1.8g fat, 10.9g protein per 100g
|store wheat in an airtight container in a dry, dark place|
|up to a few years if stored correctly|
Wheat originally comes from the “Fertile Crescent”, an area that spans across today’s Lebanon and the Anatolian and Iranian mountains. Kamut is one of the oldest types of wheat that is still cultivated today. Spelt and emmer also belong to the wheat grasses.
In addition to a mild taste, wheat is characterised by a certain stickiness that comes from the gluten content. A distinction is made between hard wheat and soft wheat, whereby hard wheat contains more gluten than soft wheat. Hard wheat contains a lot of tough gluten and is good for doughs like pasta dough, whereas soft wheat is ideal for baked goods like bread and buns.
The milling grade of wheat flour directly correlates with its nutrient content – the higher the grade, the higher the nutrient density of the flour. Very finely milled flour, type 405, has the least nutrients but is particularly suitable for fine baked goods such as biscuits and cakes. Flour made from organic wheat, on the other hand, has a higher milling grade (up to type 1700) and is ground with the outer husk and grain germ, which are particularly nutrient rich.
So, wheat can be healthy as long as you choose the right products. A wholemeal bread is rich in B vitamins and vitamin E, and thanks to its complex carbohydrates, makes you feel fuller for longer. Also healthy and a change from bread, are wheat flakes, which are similar to oat flakes and can be used as an ingredient in muesli or porridge. Another option is to buy the grain, grind it yourself, and then use the flour to bake bread. Wheat is easy to store and it keeps for a number of years. Make sure it is always stored in a dry and sealed container so that no moisture or food moths get into it.
Other wheat products include bulgur and couscous, which often appear in Middle Eastern or Asian salads. They are both ideal for casseroles and for stuffed vegetables. Wheat germ is particularly rich in nutrients and can be included in bread, buns, muesli, salads and smoothies. Furthermore, wheat is an important ingredient in many beers. Measured consumption of wheat beer is a good source of vitamin B.
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