Wheat bran is the tough outer layer of a wheat grain that has been processed into bran. Also called miller’s bran, wheat bran is commonly found in breakfast cereals like Bran Flakes and Raisin Bran, as well as popular health snacks like bran muffins. It has a sweet (though not especially likeable) taste, and organic wheat bran can easily be purchased in bulk from a whole food store or organic market, which is great news for people who like to make biscuits, pancakes, waffles, and cookies from scratch using healthier ingredients. Such people should remember to start slow when adding the bran to foods, however, since it can induce diarrhea in individuals not accustomed to high fiber foods.
As with normal wheat flour, wheat bran should be stored in a refrigerator or vacuum-sealed compartment to prevent rancidity. If the bran tastes somewhat bitter, then it is likely to be rancid and should be thrown away regardless of how well it was stored.
Health Benefits of Wheat Bran
- Wheat bran’s biggest attraction, of course, is its high dietary fiber content. In fact, a single cup (58g) of wheat bran provides the human body with 100% of an adult’s RDA of fiber, meaning that your entire day’s worth of fiber can be sourced from this one food! Dietary fiber is excellent at preventing and curing constipation since it absorbs water in the bowels, which makes stools softer and easier to pass. For the same reason, fiber also prevents hemorrhoids and colon cancer, and can even aid weight loss, since fibrous foods make us feel ‘fuller’ and less inclined to overeat.
- One cup of wheat bran contains 35% of our RDA of iron. Iron is an essential constituent of hemoglobin, the protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen to our body’s tissues. Our bodies cannot produce iron, which means we need to derive it from our food sources. If our bodies are deficient in iron then we might become anemic, which causes chronic fatigue and poor concentration.
- One cup of wheat bran also provides us with the following nutrients: 18% of our RDA of protein, 20% of our RDAs of thiamine, riboflavin, and potassium, 38% of our RDAs of niacin and vitamin B6, 89% of our RDA of magnesium, 28% of our RDAs of copper and zinc, 64% of our RDA of selenium, 333% of our RDA of manganese, and 59% of our RDA of phosphorous. Moreover, it is low in fat and calories, and contains no sodium or cholesterol.
Not All Bran Products Are Healthy
While wheat bran’s nutritional profile might make it appear like a superfood, the sad truth is that it is often added to foods that are anything but healthy. For example, a large number of breakfast cereals containing wheat or oat bran – especially those found in the United States – often include extremely toxic ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup and refined sugar. Similarly, bran muffins (constantly advertised as healthy due to their high bran content) are routinely coated in syrup and butter to disguise the bran’s unpleasant taste.
For this reason, we encourage all our readers to create their wheat bran-based dishes from scratch. At least then you will know what you’re eating. If you find that you dislike the taste of the bran, you can use healthy sugar substitutes like Xylitol to improve its taste.