The health benefits of wheat include good supply of carbohydrates for energy, good source of vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll, acts as a good natural laxative, easily digestible and is good for oral health.
Wheat is the most commonly and highly eaten cereal around the world. Wheat is high in carbohydrates which make it an ideal cereal that is generally consumed as a staple food. Wheat is eaten in many forms and one of the most famous is bread form. Wheat is also consumed as biscuits, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereal, noodles and pasta.
The bread form is so popular that almost every country that has the habit of eating wheat has its own version of bread. Wheat is believed to have originated in the regions of North Africa and Middle Eastern Asia. In terms of numbers, wheat is the second largest consumed grain after maize in the world. Rice is next to wheat in consumption around the world.
Archaeological evidence shows that wheat was cultivated about 9000 BC. The highly adaptive nature of wheat and less water consumption of the crop made it a crop ideal to be produced in places where water shortage exists. This is perhaps the reason why wheat is popular in Saharan, sub-Saharan and dry regions of North Africa and Middle Eastern Asia. From these places, over many centuries wheat spread of these places to the rest of the world including India, China, other parts of Asia, Europe, The Americas and the Australia.
Nutrition in wheat
The nutrition found in wheat certified by the National Nutrient Database from the United States Department of Agriculture includes
|Nutrition||Value per 100 g||Nutrition||Value per 100 g|
|Water||12.7 g||Energy||329 kcal|
|Protein||15.4 g||Total Lipid||1.92 g|
|Carbohydrate||68.03 g||Sugar||0.41 g|
|Fiber||12.2 g||Calcium||25 mg|
|Iron||360 mg||Magnesium||124 mg|
|Phosphorous||332 mg||Potassium||340 mg|
|Sodium||2 mg||Zinc||2.78 mg|
|Thiamin||0.504 mg||Riboflavin||0.110 mg|
|Niacin||5.71 mg||Vitamin B-6||0.336 mg|
|Folate||43 ug||Vitamin A||9 IU|
|Vitamin K||1.9 ug|
Can wheat be given to babies?
Wheat is a staple and it can be introduced into your baby’s diet. Wheat can be introduced into your baby’s diet before 6 months of age. A study conducted on wheat exposure in infants was showed that delay in introducing wheat before 6 months of age resulted in wheat allergy and early introduction of wheat before 6 months of age resulted in less cases of wheat allergy. This study results does not necessarily mean that introducing wheat before 6 months is a fool-proof method of minimizing food allergies. Some babies might have allergic reaction with wheat and hence, parents should be on the lookout for allergic reactions in the beginning.
Health benefits of wheat for babies
Here are some of the health benefits of introducing wheat for babies
High in carbohydrates: As mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons why wheat has been cultivated for thousands of years is that it is high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide with the energy to perform physical activities. A 9 month old infant would also need energy to perform physical activities of his or her level and wheat would be an ideal choice.
High in vitamins as well: Wheat is also a good source of chlorophyll, vitamins and minerals. Chlorophyll is good for blood purification, along with B complex vitamins and minerals are good for the overall development of your baby.
Easy on the digestive system: Wheat is relatively easy to digest when compared to other grains and hence it is good for babies and toddlers. Consuming wheat regularly decreases the chance of flatulence, nausea, pain in small and large intestines, etc. (Bakhru, Foods That Heal).
Natural laxative: Another advantage of consuming whole wheat is that whole wheat has high amount of dietary fiber. The dietary fiber found in wheat is said to be much more effective than the fiber found in fruits and vegetables. Dietary fiber is crucial for maintaining a clean and healthy digestive system. The fiber in wheat helps reduce the chances of constipation. (Bakhru, Foods That Heal).
Good for oral health: Wheat must be chewed thoroughly in order to pass through the mouth, esophagus and stomach. Extensive chewing of wheat and accompanying food, results in proper blood circulation in the gums. Also, as a result, less food particles get trapped in the mouth. Thus, your child’s teeth are protected. (Bakhru, Foods That Heal)
Measures to be taken while giving wheat to your child
Here are some of the measures that can be taken while feeding your child with wheat.
Wheat introduction: As mentioned earlier, wheat can be introduced into your baby’s diet at around 6 months of age. At this age, introducing processed wheat is better because it can be difficult for babies to digest whole wheat. Whole wheat can be introduced at a later age. After 2-3 years of age.
Keep away wheat flour from reach of babies: Wheat flour when comes into contact with your baby’s skin can result in wheat allergy. As and when wheat flour particles touch the skin, or breath in the particles, they invariably enter into the blood stream. The immune system sees and records these particles as threat. Thus, next time when wheat particles enter into the body through the digestive system, the immune system triggers allergic reactions. Thus, in order to minimize the risk of food allergies, do not let your baby tough wheat flour and keep it far away from your baby. (Wuthrich, 1998).
Risk of asthma: Certain foods like wheat, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soya, etc have been identified to be risk factors in asthma. Thus, if your baby has asthma symptoms, do not feed wheat and other risky foods. Take your pediatrician’s opinion about an alternative and less risky staple food. (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America).