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Since wheat constitutes about two-thirds of the grains eaten in the United States, most U.S. studies of “whole grains” in the aggregate can be considered to attest to the beneﬁts of whole wheat. So on this page, we’ve limited the universe to studies that focus in on the beneﬁts of particular varieties or forms of whole wheat.
Antioxidants High, in Emmer and Einkorn
In Ankara, Turkey, scientists at Hacettepe University’s Department of Food Engineering compared 18 ancients wheats (12 emmer, 6 einkorn) with 2 modern bread wheats, to assess their total phenolics and ﬂavonoids, phenolic acids, lutein, total yellow pigment, and total radical scavenging capacities. Results showed “remarkably higher total antioxidant activity” in emmer varieties, and “quite high levels of lutein” in the einkorn samples. In conclusion, the ﬁndings were considered to be key to “breeding wheat varieties for higher concentration and better composition of health-beneﬁcial phytochemicals.”
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, August 27, 2008; 56(16): 7285-92
Organic Wheat Judged Tastier
Scientists at the University of Alberta baked whole wheat bread using the same cultivar of hard red spring wheat grown both conventionally and organically. They then asked 384 consumers to rate the taste – once, with unlabeled samples and no knowledge of the diﬀerent origins, and again, after the breads had been labeled and the diﬀerent growing conditions described. Consumers rated the taste of the organic bread higher both in the blind test and the informed test. Their ratings were unaﬀected by information on the environmental beneﬁts of organic farming, but they liked the organic bread even more after learning of the potential health beneﬁts of organically-grown foods.
Journal of Food Science, May 2008; 73(4): H50-7
“Whole” Whole Wheat Satisﬁes Longer
Researchers in Malmö, Sweden conducted a blind cross-over trial with 13 healthy adults to see If bread made largely with intact wheat kernels satisﬁed subjects longer than bread made with whole wheat ﬂour, or reﬁned wheat ﬂour, and how the addition of vinegar would aﬀect satiety. (Acetic acid, or vinegar, is known to increase satiety and lower postprandial blood glucose and insulin response.) The whole-kernel wheat bread with vinegar satisﬁed longest, even though it had the same amount of ﬁber as the whole wheat ﬂour bread.
Nutrition Journal, April 27, 2008; 7:12
Ancient Wheats Higher in Healthy Carotenoids
Canadian researchers from the Food Research Program, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada evaluated several primitive and modern wheat species, and found the highest levels of carotenoids including lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene in Einkorn. Durum, Kamut® and Khorosan had intermediate levels, while common bread or pastry wheat had the lowest levels of carotenoids. The carotenoids studied are thought to be important to eye health, among other functions.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, February 2007; 55(3): 787-94
Magnesium May Explain Diabetes Beneﬁts of Whole Wheat
It’s thought that foods with a lower glycemic index may improve insulin sensitivity. Yet whole wheat bread, with a glycemic index almost identical to bread made with reﬁned wheat, has been found to promote insulin sensitivity when compared to the “white bread.” Researchers at Pantox Laboratories in San Diego, California, hypothesize that magnesium may be responsible, and urged “the strong desirability of choosing whole grain products in preference to reﬁned grains.”
Medical Hypotheses, 2005; 64(3): 619-27
Less Allergenic Wheats Identiﬁed
Scientists in Shizuoka, Japan screened 324 varieties of wheat from around the world, in an eﬀort to ﬁnd varieties less likely to trigger allergies to gluten, gliadin, and alpha-amylase inhibitor. Einkorn, along with rare varieties from Mexico, Ecuador, China, and Italy, were found to be among the least allergenic.
Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology (Tokyo), June 2005; 51(3): 204-6
Ancient Wheat Breads Digested Diﬀerently
Researchers at the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, in Frederiksberg, Denmark, compared three diﬀerent loaves: einkorn bread made with honey-salt leavening; naturally-leavened einkorn bread made with crushed whole grains; and commercial yeast bread made with modern wheat. The naturally-leavened einkorn loaves signiﬁcantly reduced the gastrointestinal response of GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotrophic polypeptide), a hormone important in controlling insulin secretion.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2003; 57(1):1254-61
Wheat Flour Particle Size Doesn’t Aﬀect Glycemic Response
USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, in Beltsville, MD, asked twenty-six healthy adults to consume four diﬀerent samples: glucose solution, traditional white (reﬁned) bread, conventional whole wheat bread, or bread made with ultra-ﬁne whole wheat. The researchers then determined the subjects’ glycemic response, and determined that both whole wheat ﬂours (conventional and ultra-ﬁne) had similar eﬀects. They concluded that “the particle size of whole grain wheat ﬂour did not substantially aﬀect glycemic responses.”
Journal of the American College of Nutrition, December 1999; 18(6):591-7