Wheat is the most widely distributed cereal grain in the world. Flour from wheat is the framework for almost all baked goods, as well as pasta, cereal and many other products.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize that grains - particularly whole grains - are a valued and important step toward healthy living. Federal guidelines encourage us to "get half from whole," by consuming half of our daily grain intake in the form of whole grain foods. Whole grain foods are made with flour that contains all three parts of the kernel: the bran, germ and endosperm.
Research shows whole grain foods are associated with lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, and may help with better weight control. Despite these well-documented health benefits, the average American eats less than 1 ounce of whole grains per day.
Enriched grains are also an important part of a balanced diet. White flour milled from the endosperm of the wheat kernel is used to make white bread. Semolina milled from the endosperm of the durum kernel is used to make traditional pasta. In the United States, these products are almost always enriched with iron and the B-vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid. Enriched grain foods like white bread have twice the folic acid of whole wheat. Folic acid helps moms give birth to healthy babies and has also been linked with improving heart health, enhancing memory, and helping to prevent childhood leukemia.