Wheat Berries Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

wheat berries in a salad


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Wheat berries, also known as whole wheat kernels, are the bran, germ, and endosperm of wheat kernels without the husk. Eaten whole as a topping or salad, cooked into a porridge, or added into bread, wheat berries offer a chewy texture to dishes.

Because the bran and germ are present in wheat berries, they are packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber, and healthy fats. Refined grains, by comparison, only contain the endosperm, which is the source of starchy carbohydrates with some protein and nutrients.

Wheat berries are a highly nutritious source of protein and complex carbohydrates, offering several vitamins and minerals. They are found in most health food stores and come in various types, including hard and soft.

Wheat Berries Nutrition Facts

This nutrition information, for a quarter cup serving of wheat berries (48g), is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 170
  • Fat: 1.5g
  • Sodium: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 32g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 9g
  • Zinc: 2.3mg
  • Iron: 2.2mg
  • Magnesium: 60mg

Carbs

Wheat berries are a source of complex carbohydrates with 32g per quarter cup (48g) serving. The same serving offers 4g of fiber, which accounts for 14% of your daily recommended intake, based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

The glycemic index (GI) of wheat berries is approximately 30, making it a low-glycemic food. The glycemic index ranges up to 100, with foods under 55 considered low GI. Consuming whole grains in this unprocessed form is considered healthier than their processed flour form. Bread made with wheat berries, for instance, changes the GI to 64 from 75.

Fats

Wheat berries are a low-fat food, with only 1.5g per quarter cup (48g) serving. The kind of fat in wheat berries is unsaturated.

Protein

Wheat berries are high in protein for a grain, with 9g per quarter cup (48g) serving. You may still wish to add protein to a meal of wheat berries for a more balanced macronutrient profile, though. Wheat berries are not a complete protein source as they do not include all of the essential amino acids.

Vitamins and Minerals

Several essential vitamins and minerals are present in high quantities in wheat berries. These include iron, zinc, vitamin B6, and magnesium. Other vitamins and minerals in wheat berries include phosphorus, manganese, niacin, thiamin, and calcium.

Calories

A quarter cup (48g) serving of wheat berries provides 170 calories, 72% of which come from carbs, 20% from protein, and 8% from fat.

Health Benefits

Whole grains are well known for their nutrient density. Wheat berries are an unprocessed whole grain, offering many health benefits.

May Help Reduce Bad Cholesterol

Studies show that consuming 28 to 30g of whole grains each day significantly reduces total serum cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is considered "bad" cholesterol.

Whole grains can help reduce LDL cholesterol after only 6 weeks of regular consumption, according to a 2017 study published in Nutrients. The researchers compared this result to those consuming refined grains. The refined grain group did not see a reduction in "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.

Helps with Weight Management

Higher whole grain consumption is associated with a lower risk of weight gain, according to studies. The higher the whole grain intake, the less risk of weight gain.

Whole grains are high in fiber and essential nutrients, such as iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and B vitamins. These nutritional benefits are lacking in refined grains, which may be the reason behind the healthier weight status of whole-grain consumers.

People who eat whole grains also have a higher total fiber intake of 50–100% greater than those who do not consume whole grains. Fiber is known to help you feel full, staving off hunger and increasing meal satiety.

May Protect Against Cancers

Studies show that in populations with the highest whole grain consumption, there is a statistically significantly lower risk of developing colorectal and pancreatic cancers when compared to those who consume the least amount of whole grains. There is also a lower risk of death from cancer associated with higher whole grain consumption.

May Prevent Heart Attacks and Strokes

Consuming whole grain fiber can lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to research. Those who consume more dietary whole grains also have a lower risk of cardiovascular mortality.

May Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Meta-analysis of the available data on whole grains reveals that consuming 2 or 3 servings totaling 30 to 45g per day significantly reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes. Consuming 1.5 servings of whole grains every day may help to lower both blood sugar levels and insulin concentrations when they are consumed as part of a balanced diet.

Improves Digestive Health

Some research indicates that beneficial changes to the gut microbiota occur with increased whole grain consumption. Eating more whole grains is associated with an increase in bowel movement frequency and a substantial increase in good bacteria in the gut.

Allergies

If you have an allergy to wheat, other grains, celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity, you should avoid wheat berries. Speak to a healthcare provider if you are concerned. Wheat allergy symptoms include:

  • Hives or rashes
  • Gastrointestinal upset including nausea, stomach cramps, and indigestion
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Headaches
  • Asthmatic symptoms
  • Anaphylaxis making breathing difficult (rare)

Adverse Effects

There are few known adverse effects to eating healthy whole grains. However, if you are consuming too much fiber, you may experience some unwanted symptoms, including bloating, gas, constipation, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and early feelings of fullness before consuming enough calories.

Note that these symptoms are similar to those experienced due to an allergy. It is essential to speak to a healthcare provider to find out the cause of your symptoms. Do not avoid eating whole grains if you do not have an allergy, but instead, try to build up your tolerance slowly.

Varieties

There are a few varieties of wheat berries, including red or brown, hard or soft. Additionally, different varieties of wheat plants such as einkorn are sold in wheat berry form. The softer versions are typically more starchy than their hard counterparts, while the hard varieties contain more protein.

You may also notice some wheat berries labeled as winter or spring—indicating the time of year in which they were grown. Sprouted wheat berries are sometimes available in health food stores as well.

Storage and Food Safety

Store dry unprepared wheat berries in an airtight container to maintain freshness. Avoid exposure to heat, air, and moisture. Whole grains will keep 6 months on a pantry shelf and up to 1 year if frozen.

How to Prepare

Wheat berries can be eaten whole, cooked similarly to rice, and eaten as-is with seasonings as a side dish or salad. They can also be added to other dishes such as:

Additionally, wheat berries can be sprouted and used to make bread, porridge, or eaten on top of the same foods above.

Recipes

Healthy Wheat Berry Recipes to Try

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Article Sources
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