In continuation with our post on best out of waste, we present to you – Wheat bran! Wheat is the second highest consumed grain in India after rice. The bran fraction of wheat is rich in fiber, minerals, vitamin B6, thiamine, folic acid and vitamin E and some phytochemicals. These multiple nutrients are available only when we utilize or retain the bran layer of the wheat instead of milling it to produce the refined wheat flour being used rampantly in processed foods.
The milled wheat grain is essentially devoid of bran and embryo while retaining only the endosperm (see image).
Threefold Beneficial effects of wheat bran
The physiological effects of wheat bran can be split into three main categories
- The bran and germ layer of wheat contains almost all of the B-group vitamins: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin and folates. They are also a source of vitamin E and the carotenoids.
- Wholegrain wheat contains amino acids such as methionine and cysteine which help in production of important antioxidant -glutathione which protects body cells from oxidation.
- Wheat bran also contains lignans which help in destruction of cancerous cells .
Mechanical effects – Wheat bran contains high amounts of fiber constituting up to 12% of the dry weight of the grain. The type of fiber present is insoluble or the non starch polysaccharides such as arabinoxylan, cellulose and beta-glucan which
- bind cholesterol and cause its elimination from the body
- aid in weight reduction by providing bulk to the stomach contents and
- act as a prebiotic feeding the healthy gut microflora
- prevent constipation
Bioactive compounds found in whole wheat include ferulic acid, magnesium, zinc, copper, inositols, policosanol and melatonin and they help to promote mental health
IN addition to combating oxidative stress, antioxidants in wheat bran can also protect the DNA , proteins and cell membranes from damage thereby lowering the risk of cancers and cardiovascular diseases.
They also prevent oxidation of LDL into the lethal oxidised LDL that causes clogging of arteries. Phenolic antioxidants in wheat bran lower triglyceride levels and prevent formation of clots thereby playing a role in prevention of heart disease.
The importance of whole grains cannot be underestimated given the current recommendations emphasizing its use on regular basis to obtain its range of health benefits in all kinds of chronic diseases. The changing diet and lifestyles have lead to very low fiber intakes with more consumption of processed and ready-to-eat foods. Even the so-called whole wheat flours do not come close to the original grain composition.
Wheat bran can be added to the regular chapatti / thepla/ bhakri dough, muthia mix, in chillas/pancakes , etc Though one may not be able to use a large quantity at one time due to its very fibrous texture, even 2-3 teaspoons of wheat bran can contribute significantly to the day’s fiber requirement. In fact , individuals who are overweight, have high cholesterol or are suffering from diabetes can benefit from taking wheat bran as a pure fiber supplement just before or immediately after the meal. But, it should be accompanied by sufficient intake of water so as to allow the fiber to swell and give a bulking effect thereby reducing hunger.
So next time you are close to a wheat milling facility, make sure to grab you bag of free wheat bran! Most of the millers consider it a waste product and will be happy to give it away.