What happened to the healthier original Indian wheat?

Wheat ranks  second only to rice as the most consumed cereal grain across the World. The cultivation of wheat dates back to more than 5000 years back during the era of Indus valley civilization where the original species Triticum Sphaerococcum popularly known as Indian wheat was grown. that species has now disappeared and is replaced by present day species- Triticum aestivum or the common Bread Wheat, Triticum durum or the Macaroni/ pasta wheat and the Triticum dicoccum or the Emmer Wheat.

Nutritionally, the traditional wheat Triticum Sphaerococcum was superior to the present day bread wheat (T. aestivum) due to its  higher protein content compared to , and resistance to drought, and yellow rust.  But it had a lower yield than bread and hence during the green revolution, it was replaced  by Triticum aestivum wheat. The Indian bread wheat or aestivum and pasta or durum wheat varieties possess low levels of  iron (27-55  ppm), and zinc (20-50ppm).
Wheat is milled to make it usable for various purposes. a wide variety of products can be obtained depending upon the degree of processing.

  • Hard wheat (T .aestivum) with strong gluten content are the main quality requirements for bread making.
  • For biscuit making, the requirements are Low protein with weak gluten content found in diococcum type of wheat or soft wheat and for chapatti making, the requirements are medium to high protein and medium gluten.
  • Hard type of wheat (T.durum) with strong gluten, high protein with high ß – Carotene Content are required for Pasta and traditional products making.

Wheat Milling Products

  • White flour is the finely ground endosperm of the wheat kernel. All-purpose flour is white flour milled from hard wheats or a blend of hard and soft wheats.
  • Bread flour is white flour that is a blend of hard , high-protein wheats and has greater gluten strength and protein content than all-purpose flour.
  • Cake flour is fine-textured, silky flour milled from soft wheats with low protein content.
  • Self-rising flour, also referred to as phosphated flour, is a convenience product made be adding salt and leavening to all-purpose flour..
  • Pastry flour has properties intermediate between those of all-purpose and cake flours. It is usually milled from soft wheat for pastry-making, but can be used for cookies, cakes, crackers and similar products. Semolina is the coarsely ground endosperm of durum , a hard spring wheat with a high-gluten content and golden color. It is hard,  granular and resembles sugar.
  • Durum flour is finely ground semolina. It is usually enriched and used to make noodles.
  • Whole wheat, stone-ground and graham flour can be used interchangeably  ; nutrient values differ minimally. Either grinding the whole-wheat kernel or recombining the white flour, germ and bran that have been separated during milling produces them. Their only differences may be in coarseness and protein content. Insoluble fiber content is higher than in white flours.
  • Gluten flour is usually milled from spring wheat and has a high protein (40-45 percent), low-starch content. It is used primarily for diabetic breads, or mixed with other non-wheat or low-protein wheat flours to produce a stronger dough structure. Gluten flour improves baking quality and produces high-protein gluten bread




Author: drpoojachhawcharia

Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.

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