Whole grain foods are associated with reduced risk of several chronic diet-related diseases. Wheat is a staple in the Western diet and has been linked to these health effects and yet has received minimal attention for its health properties compared with other plant foods, such as oats or fruit and vegetables. Wheat should now be reexamined as a potential protective food against diet-related diseases, as whole grain wheat contains a multitude of compounds with reputed health benefits. Research has shown that consumption of wheat fiber leads to increased laxation, decreased gut transit time, and a potential reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer. Colonic fermentation of nondigestible carbohydrates may lead to favorable changes in the gut microflora and increase the production of beneficial compounds such as short-chain fatty acids. However, in addition to the effects of fibre, wheat contains numerous other components that may play a role in health and disease risk reduction, such as polyphenols, carotenoids, vitamin E, and phytosterols. The additive and synergistic effects of these compounds may contribute to the health benefits of whole grain consumption. This article provides an overview of the major components in whole grain wheat and reviews their associated health benefits.
Whole grains have health contributions that go beyond dietary fiber and their nutritional value alone
Sayne Mam Ceesay Dalton, MSc, is a PhD candidate, Smart Foods Centre, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.
Linda Clare Tapsell, PhD, is a professor and director of the Smart Foods Centre, and director of nutrition research at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.
Yasmine Probst, PhD, is senior research fellow at the Smart Foods Centre, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.
Ms Dalton receives a scholarship from Campbell Arnott’s to support her PhD research related to whole grains. All other authors have no conflicts of interest to report.
Correspondence: Sayne Mam Ceesay Dalton, MSc, Smart Foods Centre, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia 2500 (firstname.lastname@example.org).