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Wheat: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction: 

Wheat is the most commonly available and staple food in many regions of the globe which originated in south-east Asia. Wheat can be grown in different climatic conditions in which China, India, USA, Russia federation, and France are the leading producers of wheat. Wheat is a rich source of fibres, proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, and phytochemicals1. These phytochemicals alone or in combination maintain the proper health condition during diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and inflammation.1 The scientific name of wheat is Triticum aestivum L. Let us discuss the benefits of wheat in detail.  

wheat benefits

Did you know?

  • Wheat provides substantial amounts of protein, vitamins (notably B vitamins), dietary fiber, and phytochemicals that are essential or beneficial for health. source: PubMed
  • Ferulic acid found in wheat has been shown to improve cardiovascular and kidney structure and function. source: PubMed
  • Wheat varieties have different phytochemical profiles and antioxidant activity. source: PubMed
  • Wheat consumption contributes to the intake of essential nutrients such as B vitamins, and minerals. source: PubMed
  • Consumption of cereal dietary fiber, such as that found in wheat, has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. source: PMC
  • Wheat grain also contains resistant starch, which is not fully digested in the small intestine and has potential health benefits, such as improving insulin sensitivity and reducing the risk of colorectal cancer. source: PMC

Nutritional Value of Wheat: 

Wheat contains various nutritional components that are given as follows: 

Nutritional Component Amount 
Water 9.44 g 
Nitrogen 2.41 g 
Protein 15.1 g 
Fats 2.73 g 
Carbohydrates 71.2 g 
Fibre 10.6 g 
Calcium 38 mg 
Iron 3.86 mg 
Magnesium 136 mg 
Phosphorus 352 mg 
Potassium 376 mg 
Sodium 3 mg 
Vitamin B-6 0.268 mg 

Table 1: Nutritional Value of Wheat2 

Also Read: Rajma (Kidney Beans): Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

Properties of Wheat: 

Several studies found that wheat shows numerous properties as follows: 

  • It may have antioxidant property  
  • It may protect against cancer 
  • It may have cholesterol-reducing properties 
  • It may protect the heart health 
  • It may boost the immune system 
  • It may improve gut health 
  • It may have anti-diabetes properties 
  • It may help in weight management1 

Also Read: Soybean: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

Potential Use of Wheat for Overall Health: 

Some of the potential uses of wheat are described as follows: 

1. Potential use of wheat for metabolic syndrome 

The imbalance in human metabolic patterns is called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome may increase the risk of diabetes, increase levels of cholesterol or obesity and increase blood sugar levels. Several studies have shown the presence of arabinoxylan, tocotrienols, ferulic acids and tocopherols in whole wheat. The presence of these bioactive compounds in wheat may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome by keeping the blood sugar in control, lowering blood pressure and producing a healthy body mass index (BMI). Further studies on humans are required to check the activity of wheat for metabolic syndrome.1 However, you should get diagnosed and get proper treatment instead of self-medicating. 

2. Potential use of wheat to enhance the immune system 

The kind of food we eat may influence our immune system and our health. Wheat is a source of a variety of nutrients and vitamins which may improve immunity. Ferulic acid and dietary fibres present in wheat may enhance the function of immune cells by producing macrophages, T-helper cells, and neutrophils.1 Further studies are required to check the effect of wheat on the immune system of humans. 

3. Potential use of wheat for cancer 

Wheat may be used for various types of cancers. Studies have shown that consuming dietary fibre-enriched food may help to reduce the risk of colon, colorectal, stomach, liver, and pancreatic cancer. Further studies are required to check the effect of wheat on cancer in humans.3 However, cancer is a serious disease; proper diagnosis and medication are essential rather than opting for self-medication. 

4. Potential use of wheat for heart health 

Wheat may be used for diseases like stroke or myocardial infarction and the high fibre intake may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. A study was conducted with approximately 22000 individuals, which showed that people with a high fibre intake had a reduced risk of myocardial infarction.3 If you have a history of heart disease, you should get a regular checkup and consult your doctor for proper medication. You must immediately seek medical help if you are experiencing heart attack symptoms. 

5. Potential use of wheat for Gall stones 

Wheat has high indigestible fibres that may help to avoid Gall stones. Researchers have reported that individuals consuming more fibres have a lower risk of developing Gall stones than those who consume less. Fibres speed up the movement of food inside the intestine and reduce the formation of bile acids which may be responsible for the formation of Gall stones.3 However, if you experience terrible pain, you must immediately seek medical help. Don’t self-medicate.  

6. Potential use of wheat for tooth disorders 

Consuming wheat may reduce the chances of toothache or tooth decay. Chewing is a must while taking wheat, this may help in the fast movement of teeth and may give proper exercise to the teeth.3 Further studies are required to check the effect of wheat on teeth disorders. However, if you are experiencing unbearable pain in your tooth, you must consult a dentist.  

7. Potential use of wheat for constipation 

Wheat may be used to produce bowel movements and thereby relieve constipation. A high amount of fibres in wheat may be useful for easy movement of stools and may prevent haemorrhoids.3 More studies are required to check the effect of wheat on constipation in humans. You must consult your doctor if you have constipation lasting for a long time or get it frequently. 

8. Potential use of wheat for diabetes 

Wheat may have anti-diabetic properties due to the presence of fibre. Studies on rats showed that high fibre intake might lower the blood glucose level. Large-scale studies on humans have shown that intake of dietary fibres may reduce the risk of diabetes.3 You should check your blood sugar level regularly and consult your doctor in case of high blood sugar levels instead of opting for self-medication. 

Though there are studies that show the benefits of wheat in various conditions, these are insufficient, and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of wheat on human health. 

From my point of view, whole-grain wheat might be a great choice because it contains important B vitamins that play various roles in your body. These B-complex vitamins may be responsible for converting the carbohydrates, fat, and protein we eat into energy. This energy might then be used to fuel your cells and support essential metabolic processes in your body.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Also Read: Black Chana: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

How to Use Wheat? 

  • Wheat can be a part of meals such as whole grains or wheat flour.  
  • Whole wheat grains can be a part of bread or baked goods. 
  • Wheat flour can be a part of Indian bread. 

Though studies show the benefits of mulberries in various conditions, these are insufficient, and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of wheat on human health. 

Based on certain studies, I have observed that wheat might contain special compounds called carotenoids, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, A-cryptoxanthin, and A-carotene. These carotenoids are found in the germ part of the wheat grain. When you eat foods rich in carotenoids, they may have positive effects on your eyes. In particular, they might lower the risk of certain eye conditions like age-related macular degeneration.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: A Comprehensive Guide: Is Sourdough Bread Healthy or Just a Trend?

Side Effects of Wheat: 

A few side effects observed on consuming wheat are: 

  • May cause nausea and vomiting 
  • May cause indigestion 
  • May cause diarrhea 
  • May cause sneezing 
  • May cause stuffy or runny nose 
  • May cause headaches4 

I would like to highlight a possible drawback of wheat consumption. Wheat contains gluten, a protein found in some grains. If you are intolerant or allergic to gluten, wheat might not be a suitable food choice for you. In such cases, it’s advisable to explore other gluten-free options.

Dr. Smita barode, B.A.M.S, M.S.

Precautions to Take with Wheat: 

General precautions should be taken while having wheat, pregnant women and lactating mothers should take special care. You must consult your doctor before having wheat. Precaution should be taken before giving wheat to the elderly or children. In such cases, you must have wheat only if your doctor prescribes it. 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Wheat may interact with the following medications: 

  • Wheat may interact with levodopa (a drug taken for Parkinson’s disease) 
  • Wheat may interact with digoxin (a drug used for heart diseases)5 

You must always seek the advice of your Ayurvedic physician and follow the prescription thoroughly, as they will know your health condition and other medications you are taking. 

Also Read: Buckwheat: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More!

Frequently Asked Questions: 

What are the health benefits of wheat? 

Wheat may be used to enhance the immune system, improve heart health, act as an anti-cancer agent, reduce gall stones, and reduce diabetes.1,3 

What are the wheat side effects? 

Side effects of wheat may include nausea and vomiting, indigestion, diarrhea, sneezing, stuffy or runny nose and headaches.4 

What are wheat’s nutritional benefits? 

Wheat contains a high amount of dietary fibres, therefore it may be used against several diseases.2 

Can wheat be used to treat psoriasis? 

No, wheat cannot be used to treat psoriasis. 

Which medications interact with wheat? 

Drugs like levodopa and digoxin may interact with wheat.5 

References: 

  1. Rachana Poudel, Madhav Bhatta. Review of Nutraceuticals and Functional Properties of Whole Wheat. Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences2017, 01 07. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312328236_Review_of_Nutraceuticals_and_Functional_Properties_of_Whole_Wheat 
  1. FoodData Central. Flour, whole what, unenriched [Internet].U.S. Department of Agriculture. [cited 2022 Aug 5]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/790085/nutrientshttps://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/790085/nutrients 
  1. Sana Afzal, Aamir Shehzad, Muhammad Atif Randhawa, Ali Asghar, Muhammad Shoaib, Muhammad Ahmar Jahangir. Health benefits and importance of utilizing wheat and rye. Pak J Food Sci, 2013: 212-222 ISSN: 2226-5899. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328052439_Health_benefits_and_importance_of_utilizing_wheat_and_rye 
  1. Wheat Allergy. Cleveland Clinic [Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 5]. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17717-wheat-allergy 
  1.  A. González Canga NFM, M. J. Díez Liébana RDL and MSV. Dietary fiber and its interaction with drugs. Nutricion Hospitalaria 2010;25:535–9. Available from: https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.844.9821&rep=rep1&type=pdf 

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