What is Triticale?
In the year 1875, an innovative botanist called Stephen Wilson decided to combine wheat with rye hoping that he could produce a grain with the high yield of wheat, the hardiness of rye and a gluten content necessary to make wonderful bread.
Unfortunately his efforts were in vein but not long after, along came another botanist called Wilhelm Rimpau whose efforts to complete the work were a success. The result of his efforts was a grain that is now known as triticale. The name was not officially given to the grain until 1935 and stems from Triticum (wheat) and Secale (rye).
These days, over 6 million acres of land the world over are used for the cultivation of triticale. China, Poland, France and Germany combined produce around 90% if the triticale crop. Triticale is also cultivated on a smaller scale in several other countries including Australia, Canada, the USA and Russia.
A Healthy and Diverse Grain
Triticale is incredibly hardy and gained its resilience from rye. It is able to survive and thrive in conditions that would destroy wheat crops including extreme temperatures, drought and even inhospitable acidic soils.
Like wheat, triticale contains gluten and this means it can be used alone to make a quality heavy, dense bread. Because it is a hybrid of rye and wheat, triticale has the amazing health benefits conferred by both types of grain but has a higher protein content than wheat alone. Triticale resembles wheat in terms of shape, size and color but is slightly longer and darker,
The majority of triticale grown is used to feed livestock but it is also consumed by people mainly in flour, bread and cereal form and is full of nutrition that can benefit human health.
Because of scientific efforts aimed at improving the crop, it now has a higher content of an amino acid called lysine. Lysine is an especially important amino acid for human health because it gets lost during the processing of food and humans are often deficient.
High in Nutrition
Not surprisingly, triticale has a nutritional profile not dissimilar to wheat. As we mentioned above, the balance of amino acids in triticale is superior and it has the added benefit of increased lysine.
Triticale is also an excellent source of healthy dietary fiber that improves digestive function and health and studies suggest reduces the risk of colon cancer.
A single cup serving of 100 grams contains 336 calories and only 3% fat. It is also free of sodium and cholesterol making it a good healthy choice for the heart.
Triticale is very high in protein. A single serving is around 26% protein and provides you with around 13 grams. Triticale also contains several other nutrients and essential minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosporus and vitamin B 6.
The Health Benefits of Triticale
1) Digestive Health
Perhaps the most important impact that triticale can have on your health is on the digestive system. The benefits on the digestive system of fiber are well researched, it includes general digestive health but can also reduce the risk of irritable bowel syndrome, Chron’s and diverticulitis. There is also research to indicate that increasing your fiber intake can protect against colon cancer.
Dietary fiber helps to keep the digestive system clean of toxins and waste and helps improve nutrient absorption so that you are getting the most from your food. It also helps to add bulk to the stools and eases the passage of waste from the body. Dietary fiber can help protect against many of the most common digestive problems like constipation, diarrhea, indigestion and bloating.
2) Diabetes Management
Being so high in fiber and other nutrients, triticale is an excellent choice for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Its high fiber content helps to balance the level of glucose in the blood. High fiber food like triticale helps prevent the bloodstream from being flooded with glucose and other simple sugars.
As well as being high in fiber, triticale is a good source of manganese which can act as another line of defense for people with diabetes. Manganese plays an important role in enzyme processes helping to turn sugar into usable energy and fuel instead of simply absorbing the sugars into the blood stream. This helps both regulate blood glucose levels and provides a person with greater energy.
3) Folate Content
Eating triticale will provide you with plenty of folate. In fact it contains around double the amount of folate found in wheat and around three times the amount compared with rye.
Folate plays a number of essential roles in the body. It is vital for red blood cell production as well as the production of new cells throughout the body.
Folate is especially significant for women who are pregnant or trying to have a child and a deficiency is linked with birth abnormalities. It is also very important for growing children and teenagers who are going through a growth spurt.
Along with another member of the B vitamin family– B12, folate helps to remove homocysteine from the bloodstream. This is significant since a high level of homocysteine is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
4) For the Heart
Triticale’s benefits extend to the cardiovascular system. It is a very heart-healthy food that can improve your overall heart health and help protect against heart disease.
Triticale is a very good source of magnesium which is necessary for a wide range of bodily functions and biochemical reactions. One of its functions is to relax the heart muscles and the blood vessels and this helps to regulate blood pressure and steady the heart rate.
A deficiency in folate has also been linked to heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, triticale is a wonderful source of folic acid that can help reduce your risk of these serious illnesses.
5) Weight Control
Being so high in dietary fiber and so low in fats, triticale is a good option for people looking to shed a few pounds. Dietary fiber can help you feel fuller for longer and reduce the desire to snack throughout the day. In the long term , this can result in weight loss especially if you incorporate the grain into a well balanced diet and exercise regime.
6) Bone Health
Triticale is an excellent source of important minerals including calcium, phosphorus, zinc and manganese. While calcium is famed for its effects on the bones, all of these minerals play a significant role in bone health and strength.
As we get older, our bones lose their density and we need to be extra vigilant. Adding mineral laden foods like triticale to our diet can help us retain our bone health and reduce the risk of bone conditions such as osteoporosis.
How to Use Triticale
- Triticale is most often available ground into a flour but you can also find it in whole grain form known as triticale berries.
- The gluten content of triticale is lower than wheat so if you are using it to bake bread, it may be best to combine it in equal measures with a wheat flour.
- If you are using triticale berries, you will need to boil them in water until they are soft enough for you to eat.
- You can add these softened berries to a salad dish or any other dish in the same way that you use rice.
- Store your triticale flour or berries in glass container in a cool place well away from exposure to direct sunlight and moisture. As long as you store the grain correctly, you can use the berries and flour for up to 12 months.