If you’ve been paying any attention to health food circles these past few years, you have probably noticed the next big craze in superfoods: wheat berries.
Wheat berries are touted as nutritionally dense, low in calories, and most importantly tasty. But what exactly is a wheat berry?
Wheat berries are the whole kernel of wheat, containing the bran, germ, and endosperm.
They can be ground into flour or be cooked and eaten whole. Wheat berries can also be sprouted for better nutrition or used to grow wheatgrass.
Turns out wheat berries aren’t really berries, but they are used very much like berries when eaten or added to various recipes.
At any rate, wheat berries are yummy and also very good for you, so everyone should acquaint themselves with these nutritious morsels. We’ll tell you everything you need to know just below!
What are Wheat Berries?
Wheat berries are the whole grain of wheat, which means they contain the bran, germ, and endosperm.
The bran is the outer layer of the grain and is rich in fiber. The germ is the inner layer that contains vitamins and minerals.
The endosperm is the starchy middle layer that provides carbohydrates. Together, these three components make up the wheat berry.
Wheat berries can be ground into wheat flour and then used to make bread or pasta, or they can be cooked and eaten whole as-is.
They have a mild, slightly sweet, and nutty flavor, but a chewy texture that makes them a delicious and versatile ingredient.
Where do Wheat Berries Come From?
Wheat berries come from wheat, of course. Wheat is a grass that is cultivated all over the world and is a major food crop.
In fact, wheat is the second most-produced grain in the world after corn.
There are many different types of wheat, but the most common type of wheat used to make wheat berries is durum wheat.
When you harvest a whole wheat kernel from the wheat, you have wheat berries, just that simple.
What are the Health Benefits of Eating Wheat Berries?
Wheat berries offer pretty awesome nutrition. For starters, they’re a good source of fiber. In fact, one cup of wheat berries contains about 7 grams of fiber.
They’re also a good source of protein, with about 6 grams per cup. Wheat berries are also rich in vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Another health benefit of wheat berries is that they contain phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds that occur naturally in plants and offer a host of health benefits.
Some of the phytonutrients found in wheat berries include phenolic acids, flavonoids, and lignans.
These compounds have been shown to offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties.
So not only are wheat berries packed with nutrients that are essential to good health, but they also contain compounds that may help to prevent chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
Pretty impressive for a little grain, don’t you think?
Are there Any Risks Associated with Eating Wheat Berries?
As with any food, there are always some risks associated with eating wheat berries.
For one, wheat berries contain gluten, which can be a problem for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
If you have either of these conditions, it’s best to avoid wheat berries and other foods that contain gluten.
Another risk associated with wheat berries is arsenic contamination. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that can be found in water, soil, and air.
It can also be found in certain foods like rice and wheat if the area they are growing in contains contamination.
So if you’re thinking about adding wheat berries to your diet, it’s important to talk to your doctor first, especially if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Also, be sure to buy wheat berries from a reputable source to minimize your risk of arsenic exposure or other harmful chemical contamination.
You Can Sprout Wheat Berries to Increase their Nutrition
Here is another super cool fact about wheat berries: you can sprout them to increase their nutritional value.
When you sprout wheat berries, they begin to germinate and grow. This process increases the levels of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes in the wheat berries.
Sprouted wheat berries are often used in salads or as a topping on other dishes like soup or stir-fry.
They have a slightly crunchy texture and an even sweeter nutty flavor that goes well with other savory ingredients.
If you’re interested in trying sprouted ones, you can find wheat berries at some health food stores or online. You can also sprout them yourself at home with a little time; it is quite easy to do!
Sprouting Wheat Berries Also Allows You to Grow Wheat Grass
Sprouting wheat berries isn’t just something you can do to pump up their nutrients and flavor. By sprouting wheat berries, like any other “seed”, allows you to grow wheatgrass.
Wheatgrass is a nutrient-rich grass that has been used for centuries in Eastern medicine for its healing properties. It is rich in chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Some people believe that wheatgrass can help to detoxify the body, improve digestion, boost energy levels, and even fight cancer.
If you want to try wheatgrass, you can find it fresh at some health food stores or juice bars. You can also buy it in powder or tablet form.
Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can grow your own wheatgrass at home from wheat berries.
All you need is a little time and patience (and some sunlight!) and you’ll have a never-ending supply of wheatgrass.
As mentioned above, wheat berries are so easy to sprout and care for that you can easily grow wheatgrass in your kitchen like an herb.
How to Cook Wheat Berries
There are several ways to cook wheat berries, and all of them are easy. The most common way to cook wheat berries is to boil them.
Just add the wheat berries to a pot of boiling water and let them cook until they are tender, which usually takes about 30 minutes.
You can also cook wheat berries in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Just add the wheat berries and enough water or broth to cover them, turn on the appliance, and let them cook until they are tender.
Another easy way to cook wheat berries is to soak them overnight in water or broth.
The next day, drain off the liquid, add the wheat berries to a pot with fresh water or broth, and let them cook until they are tender. This can speed up cooking time if you know you’ll need them that day.
No matter how you cook them, wheat berries are best when cooked in water or broth. This helps to keep them moist and prevents them from drying out.
If you find that your wheat berries are getting too dry, just add a little more water or broth to the pot.
What Recipes Can You Use Wheat Berries In?
Once cooked, wheat berries can be used in a variety of dishes. They make a great addition to salads and soups or can be served as a side dish.
Some folks even use sprouted wheat berries in pasta, on pizza, and as a sandwich topping.
They can also be used in place of rice or other grains in recipes. For example, you can use cooked wheat berries in a stir-fry or as the base for a grain bowl. The options are endless!
When cooking with wheat berries, be sure to season them well. A little salt, pepper, and herbs can go a long way in bringing out their flavor.
You can also experiment with different flavors by adding other ingredients to the pot while they cook, such as onions, garlic, or carrots.
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Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.