Botanical Name :: Triticum sativum
Indian Name :: Gehun
Wheat is one of the most common cereals used throughout the world. It is also one of the most valuable cereals and a good source of energy. With its essential coating of bran, vitamins and minerals, it is an excellent health-building food
Origin and Distribution of Wheat
Wild species of wheat have been reported from the archaeological site of Tell Mureybat on the banks of the Euphrates , dated at about 800 BC. and at Ali Kosh in southwestern Iran in deposits dated between 7500 and 6750 BC and at Hacilar in West central Anatolia at about 7000 BC. Although the earliest cultivation was apparently confined to the Near East . the wheat soon became widespread. From its early cultivation in the Balkans, wheat spread to other parts of Europe . Species of wheat appeared in India , probably before the fourth millennium BC, and in China sometime before the beginning of the Christian era. Wheat has been cultivated in India for over 5,000 years. India now ranks fourth among the topmost wheat producing countries. High yielding varieties of wheat have been developed through research.
Food Value of Wheat
Wheat has become the principal cereal, being more widely used for the making of bread than any other cereal because of the quality and quantity of its characteristic protein, called gluten.
As it is gluten that makes bread dough stick together and gives it the ability to retain gas, the higher the proportion of gluten in the flour. the better for making leavened bread.
The germ or embryo of the wheat is relatively rich in protein, fat and several of the B vitamins. So is the scutellum in wheat, which contains 50 times more thiamin than the whole grain. The outer layers of the endosperm and the aleurone contain a higher concentration of protein, vitamins and phytic acid than the inner endosperm. The inner endosperm contain most of the starch and protein in the grain.
Wheat is usually ground into flour before use as food. In ancient- times, wheat grains were crushed between two large. stones. This method of stone-grinding preserved all parts of the kernel and the product was called ‘whole wheat’. If it is finely ground, it becomes whole wheat flour. The value of stone grinding is that the grain is ground slowly and it remains unheated, and a whole food. In modern times steel roller mills have superseded stone grinding. These mills grind wheat hundred times faster, but they impoverish the flour by removing the wheat germ, resulting in colossal loss in vitamins and minerals in the refining process.
Whole Wheat Flour*
Minerals and Vitamins
|Moisture – 12.2%||Calcium – 48 mg|
|Protein – 12.1%||Phosphorus – 355 mg|
|Fat – 1.7%||Iron – 11.5 mg|
|Fibre – 1.9%||Small amount of Vitamin B Complex|
|Minerals – 2.7%||* Values per 100 gm’s edible portion|
|Carbohydrates – 69.4%||Calorific Value – 341|
Refined Wheat Flour*
Minerals and Vitamins
|Moisture – 13.3%||Calcium – 23mg|
|Protein – 11.0%||Phosphorus – 12.1 mg|
|Fat – 0.9%||Iron – 2.5 mg|
|Fibre – 0.3%||Small amount of Vitamin B Complex|
|Minerals – 0.6%||Calorific Value – 345|
|Carbohydrates – 73.9%||* Values per 100 gm’s edible portion|
Natural Benefits and Curative Properties of Wheat
The wheat, as produced by nature, contains several medicinal virtues. Every part of the whole wheat grain supplies elements needed by the human body. Starch and gluten in wheat provide heat and energy; the inner bran coats, phosphates and other mineral salts; the outer bran, the much-needed roughagethe indigestible portion which helps easy movement of bowels; the germ, vitamins Band E; and protein of wheat helps build and repair muscular tissue. The wheat germ, which is removed in the process of refining, is also rich in essential vitamin E, the lack of which can lead to heart disease. The loss of vitamins and minerals in the refined wheat flour has led to widespread prevalence of constipation and other digestive disturbances and nutritional disorders. The whole wheat, which includes bran and wheat germ, therefore, provides protection against diseases such as constipation, ischaemic, heart disease, disease of the colon called diverticulum, appendicitis, obesity and diabetes.
Dr. Ann Wigmore, founder director of the Hippocrates Health Institute, Boston, U.S.A. is one of the proponents of the ‘wheat grass therapy’, According to her, “guided by spiritual mentality and nourished only by live uncooked food, the body will run indefinitely, unhampered by sickness”. Dr. Wigmore utilises the chlorophyll present in wheat grass as a body cleanser, re builder and neutralizer of toxins. Wheat grass juice furnishes the body with vital nourishment, providing extra energy to the body. This juice contains nearly 70 per cent of chlorophyll.1t is also a rich source of vitamin A, Band C. It also contains minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, sulphur, cobalt and zinc.
Chlorophyll, one of the main constituents of wheat grass is very beneficial for the body, Chlorophyll, due to its high vitamins and mineral contents, purifies blood. This property is used by the body to cleanse and rebuild itself. By drinking this juice regularly, toxins can be neutralized. It thus helps to maintain good health.
Wheat protein, which comprises up to eight per cent of the grain, has a special benefit as it has eight of the essential amino acids in a delicately balanced proportions. A complete internal rejuvenation takes place when Wheat protein is metabolized into health-building amino acids. These amino acids build resilient muscles which comes back to its original form after stretching and bending, healthy skin and hair and clearer eyesight and nourish the heart and lungs, tendons and ligaments, brain, nervous system and glandular network.
The B-complex vitamins, especially thiamin, riboflavin and niacin offered by natural brown Wheat promote youthful energy and nourishment to skin and blood vessels. An abundance of minerals in natural brown Wheat help to nourish the hormonal system, heal wounds and regulate blood pressure. Wheat also offers iron to enrich the bloodstream and phosphorus and potassium to maintain internal water balance along with other nutrients. Wheat thus helps restore internal harmony.
1. Tooth Disorders
Wheat is valuable in the prevention and cure of pyorrhea. It takes time to eat wheat and as it is generally taken with other foods, it compels the chewing of other foods also. This not only provides the needed exercise for the teeth and gum but also a great aid to digestion.
Wheat grass juice acts as an excellent mouth wash for sore throats and pyorrhea. It also prevents tooth decay and tooth aches. Therefore it is beneficial to chew wheat grass which draws out toxins from the gums and thus checks bacterial growth.
The bran of wheat, which is generally discarded in willing of the flour, is more wholesome and nourishing than the flour itself. It is an excellent laxative. The laxative effects of bran are much superior to those of fruits or green vegetables as cel1ulose of the latter is more easily broken down by bacteria while passing through the intestine. The bran is highly beneficial in the prevention and treatment of constipation due to its concentration of cellulose which forms a bulk-mass in the intestines and helps easy evacuation due to increased peristalsis.
3. Skin Diseases
It has been scientifically proved that chlorophyll arrests growth and development of harmful bacteria. Wheat grass therapy can be effectively used for skin diseases and ulcerated wounds as by retarding bacterial action, it promotes cell activity and normal re growth. By drinking wheat grass juice regularly, an unfavorable environment is created for bacterial growth. Poultice of wheat grass juice can be applied on the infected area, as it is an able sterilizer.
Externally, wheat flour is useful as a dusting powder over inflamed surface as in burns, scalds and various itching and buring eruptions, Whole wheat flour, mixed with vinegar, boiled and applied outwardly removes freckles.
4. Digestive System Disorders
Wheat grass juice used as an enema helps detoxify the walls of the colon. The general procedure is to give an enema with lukewarm or neem water. After waiting for 20 minutes, 90 to 120 mI. of wheat grass juice enema is given. This should be retained for 15 minutes. This enema is very helpful in disorders of the colon, mucous and ulcerative colitis, chronic constipation and bleeding piles.
5. Circulatory Disorders
The chlorophyll content present in wheat grass enhances heart and lung functions. Capillary activity also increases while toxemia or blood poisoning is reduced. Due to increased Iron content in the blood and hemoglobin, lungs function better. Oxygenation improves and the effect of Carbon-dioxide is minimized. It is for this reason that wheat grass juice is prescribed for circulatory disorders.
Wheat grass is grown by soaking a good variety of wheat for eight to 10 hours. The water should then, be drained and grains be allowed to sprout for 15 hours. Earthen pots or wooden trays can be used to grow the wheat grass. These trays should be filled with compost manure. The wheat sprouts should be spread and the trays should be covered with a dark cloth or the trays kept away from the sunlight in a room. These trays should be sprinkled with water once or twice a day and they should be allowed to stay as such for six to seven days until the grass grows five to seven inches high.
Chewing wheat grass is the easiest method to drink wheat grass juice. As an alternative to chewing, wheat grass should be cut finely and ground in a grinder with addition of water to enable the extract ion of the wheat grass juice. This juice should be drunk within 10 to 15 minutes after extraction. In the early stages of wheat grass therapy about 100 ml. to 150 ml. of wheat grass juice should be taken daily. As the body becomes accustomed to its taste, the quantity of wheat grass juice can be gradually increased until the intake is about 250 ml. to 300 ml. per day. Wheat grass juice should be mixed thoroughly with saliva before being swallowed slowly. This juice should be drunk an hour before a meal and two to three hours after the meal.
Uses of Wheat
Chappatis are the common form in which wheat is eaten in India, Pakistan and Iran. They are made from whole wheat flour, called dalia. Wheat taken in the shredded form called dalia is extremely wholesome. It has been a very favorite Indian dish in olden days. It is cooked by soaking two tablespoonful of crushed or shredded wheat for half an hour and then cooking it on slow fire till the water nearly dries up. Thereafter milk and honey may be added to taste. It is a nourishing morning breakfast food item.