Healthy Whole Wheat Products
Ideally, one should buy whole wheat berries and grind them fresh to make homemade breads and other baked goods. Buy whole wheat berries that are grown organically or biodynamically--biodynamic farming involves higher standards than organic.34 Since these forms of farming do not allow synthetic, carcinogenic chemicals and fertilizers, purchasing organic or biodynamic wheat assures that you are getting the cleanest, most nutritious food possible. It also automatically eliminates the possibility of irradiation31 and genetically engineered seed. The second best option is to buy organic 100 percent stone-ground whole-wheat flour at a natural food store. Slow-speed, steel hammer-mills are often used instead of stones, and flours made in this way can list "stone-ground" on the label. This method is equivalent to the stone-ground process and produces a product that is equally nutritious. Any process that renders the entire grain into usable flour without exposing it to high heat is acceptable.
If you do not make your own bread, there are ready-made alternatives available. Look for organic sourdough or sprouted breads freshly baked or in the freezer compartment of your market or health food store. If bread is made entirely with l00 percent stone-ground whole grains, it will state so on the label. When bread is stone ground and then baked, the internal temperature does not usually exceed 170 degrees, so most of the nutrients are preserved.28 As they contain no preservatives, both whole wheat flour and its products should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. Stone-ground flour will keep for several months frozen.28
Sprouting, soaking and genuine sourdough leavening "pre-digests" grains, allowing the nutrients to be more easily assimilated and metabolized. This is an age-old approach practiced in most traditional cultures. Sprouting begins germination, which increases the enzymatic activity in foods and inactivates substances called enzyme inhibitors.1 These enzyme inhibitors prevent the activation of the enzymes present in the food and, therefore, may hinder optimal digestion and absorption. Soaking neutralizes phytic acid, a component of plant fiber found in the bran and hulls of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds that reduces mineral absorption.32 All of these benefits may explain why sprouted foods are less likely to produce allergic reactions in those who are sensitive.1
Sprouting also causes a beneficial modification of various nutritional elements. According to research undertaken at the University of Minnesota, sprouting increases the total nutrient density of a food. For example, sprouted whole wheat was found to have 28 percent more thiamine (B1), 315 percent more riboflavin (B2), 66 percent more niacin (B3), 65 percent more pantothenic acid (B5), 111 percent more biotin, 278 percent more folic acid, and 300 percent more vitamin C than non-sprouted whole wheat. This phenomenon is not restricted to wheat. All grains undergo this type of quantitative and qualitative transformation. These studies also confirmed a significant increase in enzymes, which means the nutrients are easier to digest and absorb.33
You have several options for preparing your wheat. You can use a sour leavening method by mixing whey, buttermilk or yogurt with freshly ground wheat or quality pre-ground wheat from the store. Or, soak your berries whole for 8 to 22 hours, then drain and rinse. There are some recipes that use the whole berries while they are wet, such as cracker dough ground right in the food processor. Another option is to dry sprouted wheat berries in a low-temperature oven or dehydrator, and then grind them in your grain mill and then use the flour in a variety or recipes.
Although our modern wheat suffers from a great number of indiscretions, there are steps we can take to find the quality choices that will nourish us today and for the long haul. Go out and make a difference for you and yours and turn your wheaty indiscretions into wheaty indulgences.
The Weston A. Price Foundation