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Ask the Experts

Are Wheat Berries Healthier than Wheat?

by Andrea Klausner, MS, RD  

Q: What are wheat berries, and are they healthier than refined wheat?

A: Wheat berries are simply the whole kernels—technically one-seeded fruits—of the wheat plant. Because they are the whole grain, they contain all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other potentially beneficial compounds of the grain. They are nutritionally similar to bulgur and cracked wheat (other forms of the whole wheat kernel). They are also more nutritious than highly processed wheat products, such as refined white flour.

You can find wheat berries in health-food stores and some supermarkets, packaged or in bulk bins. They take about an hour to cook, less if you presoak them. The longer they cook, the softer they get. Overcooked berries lose their shape. For crunchier berries, cook for a shorter time.

Wheat berries have a nutty taste and chewy texture. Mix them with other grains, vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, and herbs; add them to soups, stuffing, and casseroles; or sprinkle them on salads. Keep uncooked wheat berries in the refrigerator or freezer to slow spoilage. Once cooked, wheat berries last about one week in the refrigerator.

Also see Wheat: Nourishing a Planet.