Whole wheat refers to an unaltered and unrefined version of wheat crop. Wheat is one of the most important food sources in the world. It is made into a variety of products such as breads, pastas and desserts (such as cookies and cakes). While wheat is nutritious and particularly rich in protein and various vitamins and minerals, its nutrient content depends largely on the form that it takes. The entire array of wheat nutrients can be enjoyed if the grain is used in its whole form, if products are made from whole wheat flour. However, the standard form of wheat flour used in the majority of pastas and baked goods is processed into 60 percent extraction. Refining wheat into 60 percent extraction means that as much as 40 percent of the original grain, including the germ and the bran, has been removed, so that only 60 percent remains. Unfortunately, the 40 percent that is stripped contains half of all the fiber, vitamins and minerals of wheat. Products made from whole wheat are recommended because these still possess the natural and nutritious goodness of wheat.
The serving size of whole wheat is usually set at 100 grams. The following are details regarding the nutritional value of whole wheat.
A serving of wheat contains about 340 calories, most of which are derived form carbohydrates. Fats contribute less than five percent to the total caloric content of wheat. Studies show that high-fiber, whole grain products like wheat are associated with lower weight gain compared to refined products.
Carbohydrates and Fiber
A serving of wheat provides 73 grams of carbohydrates or 25 percent of the daily requirement. More importantly, the carbohydrate content of wheat has about 12 grams of fiber and a low glycemic index. The glycemic index indicates how fast sugars are absorbed from the digestive tract to the bloodstream. The low glycemic index of wheat means that sugars and carbohydrates are not absorbed rapidly, thus preventing sudden rises and fluctuations in blood sugar.
If your diet has high-fiber content and low glycemic indices, you are less likely to develop diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. The high-fiber content of wheat also prevents constipation, and protects against gallbladder stones and various cancers.
Wheat is moderately rich in proteins. A serving contains about 14 grams of proteins, equivalent to about 27 percent of the daily requirement.
Fat and Cholesterol
Wheat is particularly low in fat. A serving contains no more than 2 grams of fat, none of which are of the saturated type.
Whole wheat has very high amounts of the antioxidant trace metals, manganese and selenium (> 100 percent daily value). The health-promoting properties of whole wheat are due to moderately high amounts of iron for red blood cell production, potassium for normal brain function, magnesium for maintenance of a healthy heart, phosphorus for teeth and bone formation, zinc for an improved immune system and copper for absorption of iron.
Whole wheat is a very rich source of the B vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin). These vitamins are vital cofactors in a variety of metabolic pathways.