Whole grains are a staple part of any plant-based diet. The most popular whole grains in North America are oats, corn, brown rice, and whole wheat. But beyond the top four, there are many more whole grains to choose from. Sometimes eating more whole grains can lead us into unknown territory. This brings us to the topic for this article: What are wheat berries?
Wheat berries are the untouched version of whole wheat. Unlike its more popular whole wheat cousin, wheat berries are not consumed as often or as well known. They are whole kernels that contain all three parts of the whole grain: the bran, germ, and endosperm. Bran is the hard, outer part of the grain and is rich in fiber. The endosperm is the second, starchy layer underneath the bran. The germ is enveloped by the endosperm and is rich in nutrients including B vitamins, minerals, some protein, and healthy fats.
There are different types of wheat berries that are characterized by the hardness of the kernel and planting season.
Wheat berries are named after the time of year they grow (winter or summer), the gluten content such as hard or soft, as well as their color, including white or red.
What Are Wheat Berries’ Benefit to Your Health?
Now that you know what wheat berries are, what are their health benefits? Wheat berries, just like all whole grains, have multiple benefits to your health.
- Wheat berries are rich in fiber- an important factor for lowering cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar.
- Wheat berries energize you with B vitamins and starch content.
- Unlike white flour, wheat berries retain their protein content because they are not refined. Protein combined with fiber is important for regulating your appetite and making your meal more satisfying by keeping you full for longer.
- Wheat berries are rich in magnesium. Magnesium is a co-factor for many enzymes including the ones involved in glucose metabolism. This, in turn, has the potential to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Wheat berries contain phytochemicals, as well as other trace minerals including selenium and copper which may protect against some cancers.
What are Wheat Berries and How Do I Incorporate Them in My Plant-Based Diet?
You might ask, what do I do with wheat berries in my plant-based diet? There are a variety of ways that you can incorporate them.
- You can use wheat berries instead of oats in your porridge at breakfast.
- For whole grain-based salads, you can make wheat berries the main ingredient. Add your favorite legumes and vegetables.
- Lemon juice is a great flavor pairing for wheatberries. Drizzle your wheat berries with lemon juice and combine with lightly cooked vegetables.
- Make a pilaf or side dish using wheat berries as an alternative to rice.
- Try putting wheat berries in your soup or mix in a casserole.
- Have cooked wheat berries as a snack and mix with your favorite fruit or trail mix.
- Use wheat berries in baking when making bread or muffins.
As you can see, wheat berries are a versatile ingredient that you can use in a variety of meals and snacks. An added bonus is that they are packed with nutrients like fiber and minerals, which can have multiple benefits to your health!
How do you plan to incorporate wheat berries in your plant-based diet? Share your ideas below!
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