Wheat Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  11 min read

Want to see wheat benefits and side effects every ethical consumer must know? Here are wheat pros and cons and how buying them will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

Food is something we consume every day and if you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on wheat benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about wheat benefits and side effects. This will include wheat health benefits and/or risks, wheat water footprint and/or wheat carbon footprint, wheat sustainability, if wheat is vegan or impacts animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if wheat is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be prepared to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about wheat benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Must-Know Wheat Benefits And Side Effects

Health

Wheat benefits (whole wheat is best!) for health may include:

Wheat side effects for health may include:

Additionally, wheat benefits and side effects include being…

Environment

Water footprint: low, it takes 1,827 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of wheat / 219 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of wheat

Carbon footprint: low, 1.0 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of wheat, a car driving equivalent of 2.5 miles or 4 kilometers

Destruction: moderate-high, wheat production is moderately sustainable to unsustainable, non-organic wheat uses large amounts of fertilizer, a lot of energy is needed to make the fertilizer, nitrous oxide gas is released when fertilizer degrades into the soil, organic wheat farms use far more land than conventional farming which could, in theory, be “set aside for wildlife or used for biomass energy”, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as toxic, chemical pesticides contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Wheat is…

Animals

Kills: none, wheat production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, wheat production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems, animals may be indirectly killed or harmed from wheat production as toxic chemicals are often used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Wheat is…

Laborers

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Wheat…

Where does most wheat come from? 📍

The world’s top wheat exporting country is USA followed by Germany, Canada, Lithuania, Russia, France, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Czechia.

China is the world’s leading wheat producer followed by India, Russia, the United States, France, Australia, Canada, Pakistan, Ukraine and Germany.

Is wheat nutritious? 🥗

Yes! Wheat contains vitamins such as B6, iron, zinc, and selenium, and is a good source of fiber.

wheat is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is wheat alkaline or acidic?

Wheat is acidic.

What is the pH level of wheat?

Wheat has a 6.0 pH level, once digested. Most wheat foods are acidic except for wheatgrass which is alkaline.

When you eat food, it is broken down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

wheat is glutinous.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is wheat gluten free? No, wheat is not gluten free. Wheat contains gluten. Wheat in all forms except wheatgrass is glutinous. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include: recurring abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, tingling, numbness in hands and feet, chronic fatigue, joint pain, unexplained infertility and low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis).

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

wheat is a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is wheat a common food allergen? Yes, wheat is a common food allergen. Many people experience allergic reactions to wheat.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods is often referred to as the Big-8 and includes milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. 

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

wheat has a low water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does wheat have a high or low water footprint?

Wheat has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of wheat?

It takes 1,827 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of wheat / 219 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of wheat.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource? Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

wheat has a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does wheat have a high or low carbon footprint?

Wheat has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of wheat?

It takes around 1.0 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of wheat, a car driving equivalent of 2.5 miles or 4 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating product emissions, some factors that may be included are… farm equipment, animal feed production, hothouses (greenhouses), food processing, packaging, transport, refrigeration, freezing, package waste, and more.

There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

wheat is unsustainable when non organic, moderately sustainable when organic.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is all wheat eco friendly? Is wheat sustainable?

Wheat production is unsustainable when non-organic, moderately sustainable when organic. This is due to heavy pesticide usage when not-organic and monocropping that occurs with all wheat production. Monocropping depletes nutrients in soil, reduces organic matter and causes erosion.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

wheat is vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is wheat vegan?

Yes, wheat is vegan. Wheat is a cereal grain and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

wheat is a product that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is wheat a product associated with labor concerns?

At this time there have been no major concerns associated with wheat production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may be associated with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even be subjected to harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment has been likened to modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

This post was all about wheat benefits and side effects.

Sources:

Wheat flour, whole-grain, soft wheat – FoodData Central

Wheat | USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

Treehugger: What’s the environmental impact of a loaf of bread?

World Atlas: top wheat producing countries

Adriane Marie

Self-proclaimed Grocery Guru, Material Maven and all around Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful and use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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