Ok, not everyone in this country has Celiac disease, an allergy to gluten, a wheat protein. Many may be allergic to dairy ingredients, soy ingredients, additives and chemicals, or honey which sometimes found in bread and are known food allergy foods. So lets look at the big picture. The amount of people allergic to wheat is quite skewed and misrepresented by people who are on the grain hate bandwagon. Wheat actually yields a lot of health benefits and I think we need to acknowledge its importance in the diet. If you do not seriously have a gluten allergy then wheat grains can be healthful.
Benefits (from the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota) sums it up nicely.
Plant sterols and stanols are found in oilseeds, grains, nuts and
legumes. These compounds are known to reduce serum
cholesterol (Yankah & Jones, 2001). Structurally, they are
very similar to cholesterol, differing in side-chain methyl and
ethyl groups. It is believed that phytosterols inhibit dietary
and biliary cholesterol absorption from the small intestine.
Phytosterols have better solubility than cholesterol in bilesalt
micelles in the small intestine. Phytosterols displace
cholesterol from micelles, which reduces cholesterol
absorption and increases its excretion (Hallikainen et al.
2000). In order to inhibit absorption of dietary cholesterol the
sterol must be consumed at the same time as cholesterol. The
amount of plant sterols and stanols necessary to achieve a
significant cholesterol-lowering effect has been the subject of
debate. Although a significant effect has been reported for
< 1 g/d, intakes of 1–2 g/d are usually suggested. A dose–
response effect is reported for phytosterols that plateaus at
about 2·5 g/d (Nair et al. 1984). The average Western diet
contains an estimated 200–300 mg plant sterols/d. Vegetarians
may consume up to 500 mg/d. Increased whole-grain
consumption would increase total phytosterol intake and
potentially contribute to cholesterol reduction.
Unsaturated fatty acids
Wholegrain wheat contains about 30 g lipids/kg and wholegrain
oats contain about 75 g lipids/kg. Grain lipids comprise
about 75 g unsaturated fatty acids/100 g, of which there are
approximately equal amounts of oleic and linoleic acid and
1–2 g linolenic acid/100 g. Palmitate is the main saturated
fatty acid. There are approximately 20 g unsaturated lipid/kg
whole wheat and about 55 g/kg whole-oat foods. Both oleic
and linoleic acid are known to reduce serum cholesterol and
are important components of a heart healthy diet (McPherson
& Spiller, 1995). There has been considerable emphasis on
low-fat diets for reduced heart disease. However, the type of
fat consumed is important as well as the amount of fat. If the
fat is saturated, LDL-cholesterol and total cholesterol levels
increase, but these levels decrease when the fat is unsaturated.
In studies with individual fatty acids stearic acid, oleic acid
and linoleic acid were associated with lowering total cholesterol
and LDL-cholesterol. Other studies have confirmed the
cholesterol-lowering effect of grain lipids and high-lipid bran
products (Gerhardt & Gallo, 1998).
Anti-nutrients found in grains include digestive enzyme
(protease and amylase) inhibitors, phytic acid, haemagglutinins
and phenolics and tannins. Protease inhibitors, phytic acid,
phenolics and saponins have been shown to reduce the risk of
cancer of the colon and breast in animals. Phytic acid, lectins,
phenolics, amylase inhibitors and saponins have also been
shown to lower the plasma glucose, insulin and/or plasma
cholesterol and triacylglycerols (Slavin et al. 1999). In grains
protease inhibitors make up 5–10 % of the water-soluble protein
and are concentrated in the endosperm and embryo.
Whole grains are rich in many components, including dietary
fibre, starch, fat, antioxidant nutrients, minerals, vitamins,
lignans and phenolic compounds that have been linked to
reduced risk of CHD, cancer, diabetes, obesity and other
chronic diseases. Most of the components are found in the
germ and bran, which are reduced in the grain-refining
process. The most potent protective components of whole
grains need identification so that efforts can be directed to
minimising the losses of physiologically-important constituents of
grains during processing. There is also a need to
educate the public to increase their intake of whole grains to
the recommended levels.