Nutritional benefits of whole wheat meal

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NAFDAC researchers insist that in addition to the effects of fibre, wheat contains numerous other components that may play a role in health and disease risk reduction. These are polyphenols, carotenoids, vitamin E, and phytosterols. The additive and synergistic effects of these compounds may contribute to the health benefits of whole grain consumption.
On his part, Patrick of FIIRO describes wheat as “the king of all cereals” and “ a treasured plant” because it is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, most of the essential amino acids and valuable minerals, all in one plant! Besides, it has been made popular because it possesses gluten which makes it possible for bread making. He adds that no other cereal is as nutritionally rich. However, there are two varieties of hard wheat, with protein content of 14-15%, used for bread and soft wheat of 10-12% protein used for biscuits and cookies. This is the type grown in Nigeria, at the Chad and Hadeija River Basin.
Prof. Malomo reiterates that whole grains as present in whole wheat meal lower blood pressure. The heart benefits of whole grains don’t stop with cholesterol and triglycerides. They also lower blood pressure, one of the most important risk factors for heart disease. One study found a 19% lower risk of hypertension among men who ate more than 7 servings of whole grain breakfast cereal a week compared with those who ate one or less. A study of women also found a benefit. “Eating whole grains instead of refined grains substantially lowers blood pressure.
He adds that they are effective against Type-2 diabetes, cancer and have positive effective effect on the digestive system, giving a fuller feeling and even contribute to longevity. So, the question is what really makes whole grains so nutritious?
The wheat grain or ‘caryopsis’, which is harvested for human nutrition, is composed of a number of different tissues. According to Jennings, whole grain kernels have three parts. Bran is the hard, outer shell. It contains fiber, minerals and antioxidants. Endosperm: The middle layer of the grain is mostly made up of carbohydrates. Germ: This inner layer has vitamins, minerals, protein and plant compounds. The acronym is BEG, which means that whole grains are literally begging us to eat them! Grains can be rolled, crushed or cracked, but as long as these three parts are still present in their original proportion, they’re considered whole grains.
With all the listed benefits, why are Nigerians not fully aware of them especially as made available in Honeywell Whole Wheat Meal?
Let it be noted that there are many kinds of whole grains, including oat meal, popcorn, millet, quinoa and brown rice. Others are whole rye, wild rice, wheat berry, bulgur, buckwheat, freekeh, barley and sorghum. Products made from these foods are also considered whole grain foods. These include bread, pasta, some breakfast cereals and of course, whole wheat meal.
People eating whole wheat meal should therefore, be rest assured that are gaining many nutrients because whole grains contain all three parts of the grain and therefore, highly nutritious. For instance, they’re high in nutrients and fibre, obtained from the bran. They are particularly high in B vitamins, including niacin, thiamin and folate. They also contain a good amount of minerals, such as zinc, iron, magnesium.
Whole grains provide several grams of protein per serving. Also, several compounds in whole grains act as antioxidants. These include phytic acid, lignin and sulfur compounds. Similarly, many types of plant compounds that play a role in preventing diseases are found in whole grains. These include lignans, stanols and sterols.
In summary, whole grains have higher phyto-nutrient content and antioxidant activity than refined grains which have been stripped of their bran and germ leaving only the endosperm. For instance, refined wheat flour loses 83% of total phenolic acids, 79% of total flavonoids, 93% of ferulic acid, 78% of total zeaxanthin, 51% of total lutein, and 42% of total β-cryptoxanthin compared with whole wheat flour.

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