Baking bread at home takes time and energy, but advancing research is confirming the multitude of nutritional benefits found in whole grains.
Wheat berries, the whole grain form of wheat, is made up of wheat germ, bran and endosperm. About 6 grams of fiber are found in 1/4 cup of wheat berries. If you’re grinding about 3 cups of wheat berries to produce flour for your bread, you’ll find some 72 grams of fiber in one loaf.
Those unprocessed wheat berries also contain a concentrated amount of protein and micronutrients such as manganese, selenium, thiamine, phosphorus, magnesium, niacin, copper, iron, zinc, vitamin B6 and folate. Small amounts of potassium, pantothenic acid and vitamin E are also found in wheat berries.
The 2018 research conducted by University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Undergraduate Research Program included evidence that dietary fiber promotes growth of good gut bacteria, resulting in production of byproducts important to health.
On average, men under 50 should consume 30 to 38 grams of fiber per day and women should take in 21 to 25 grams (Mayo Clinic). Other whole gain foods with significant fiber content include graham flour, oatmeal whole oats, brown rice, wild rice, whole grain corn, popcorn and whole grain barley.
In recent years, researchers have learned that fiber not only contributes to brain health, it also aids the following:
- Can help prevent chronic diseases
- Delays brain aging
- Decreases the risk of diverticulitis
- Promotes healthy gut bacteria
- Promotes healthy bones
- Prevents hemorrhoid pain
Additional benefits of fiber:
- Helps add volume to meals to help you feel full faster.
- Helps stave off hunger.
- Reduces fat absorption from food and drinks.
- Provides sustained energy by stabilizing blood glucose levels.
- Reduces the risk of cancer by moving foods through the gut more quickly.
- Helps the body absorb certain vitamins and minerals during the digestive process.
- Soluble fiber helps lover blood cholesterol.
Some studies have shown that fiber may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
In addition to its nutrition benefits, wheat bran positively impacts the gastrointestinal tract and provides antioxidant effects, helping slow or limit damage caused by free radicals.
Wheat bran does contain phytates, which consumed in significant amounts can bind to certain dietary minerals that include iron, zinc, manganese and to some extent, calcium, slowing their absorption in the body. This can be overcome by eating a balanced diet, cooking the wheat berry, or soaking (sprouting) prior to using/eating them.
Enhance your success in making home-made whole wheat bread by managing the temperature of your recipe liquids to support yeast activity (heating them to a range of 105- to 110-degrees Fahrenheit) and keeping your dough warm throughout the mixing-kneading-rising process to achieve a high, light rise.
• Dr. Axe
Long time journalist Loretta Sorensen is the author of Secrets To Baking Your Best Bread Ever! and regularly shares information about whole grains and bread baking. You’ll find her book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Country Store at Our Dakota Horse Tales. Her weekly bread baking posts are featured at Mother Earth Living, GRIT Magazine, Our Dakota Horse Tales, and on Pinterestand Facebook.