Although wheat bran is healthy and rich in fiber, it might not be the best choice for everyone. For example, if you’re allergic to gluten, then wheat bran is a no-go. However, you don’t need to have gluten sensitivity to look for wheat bran substitutes.
Flaxseed presents a good substitute as it packs the same nutrients without gluten. Oat bran and oatmeal are also good options without gluten, except if there’s cross-contamination. Wheat germ and whole-wheat flour can do the trick. In case you don’t want wheat products, you can also use rice bran.
There are options with similar benefits that you may be missing out on because wheat bran is stealing all the thunder. So, here’s the best wheat bran substitutes list you need for baking!
6 Delicious Wheat Bran Substitutes
See, this wheat milling process, or the process that turns wheat to flour, is a magical one. Not only do we get flour from it, but we also get other valuable byproducts. On top of that list comes wheat bran, which is the outer layer of the whole grain.
Another byproduct that has a similar nutritional profile and can substitute for wheat bran is wheat germ.
While wheat bran is the outer shell of the grain, wheat germ is the core. They both have a score of nutritional benefits thanks to their common origin: the nutrient-dense wheat kernel.
Unfortunately, to store wheat products for longer, wheat germ is taken out of the equation. That’s unfortunate because, according to experts, wheat germ is a great way to supplement your diet with nutrients. Among the nutrients it contains are the following:
- Healthy fat
- Vegetable proteins
There’s another particular nutrient that brings great value: vitamin E. This is an antioxidant that fights against one of the major reasons for aging and illness: free radicals. Research backs up the use of such natural antioxidants, as they go a long way in preventing disease.
How Do Wheat Germ and Wheat Bran Compare?
While both are storehouses of healthy fibers, you should watch out if you’re cutting your carb consumption while using wheat germ. In contrast to wheat bran, wheat germ has more carbs per serving. A cup of wheat germ has 60 grams of carbs, while the same amount of bran has only 37 grams.
On the other hand, as stated by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), wheat germ oil can help curb high cholesterol. One aspect that they both are unfortunate in, however, is gluten content.
What’s up With These Wheat Cousins and Gluten?
Wheat products, in general, are known for containing gluten. Despite the bad publicity gluten has from the media, research says this protein isn’t associated with heart problems, as claimed. On the contrary, it’s beneficial for the prevention of such conditions.
Also, gluten is prebiotic. This means it serves as food for the good bacteria in your body. So, gluten constitutes a problem only for people with celiac disease. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the intestine is damaged by gluten.
Also, there’s a more recent diagnosis of â€œnon-celiac gluten sensitivity,â€ also known as NCGS. This means sensitivity to gluten unrelated to celiac disease. If you have either of these conditions, then you have to look for a gluten-free substitute.
If gluten is causing you health issues, flaxseed is the best wheat bran substitute for you. Unlike wheat products, flaxseed is gluten-free. However, you should keep an eye out for the label.
Why Can Naturally Gluten-Free Products Still Contain Gluten?
Gluten-free products can still have gluten because of cross-contamination. This means the rubbing off of gluten from wheat products to gluten-free foods. This could happen in the manufacturing process; that’s why you should check the label and see if it says â€œgluten-free.â€
Alternatively, cross-contamination can take place in your kitchen. An example of that would be using the same toaster for gluten-free and gluten-rich products. Chances are, the gluten-free ones are going to get contaminated. So, it’s imperative to keep both types of products separate.
Is Flaxseed Any Good Apart From the Fact That It’s Gluten-Free?
Most definitely yes. If you’re a vegetarian with no fish in your diet, then flaxseed can serve you well in more than one regard. First, it has omega-3 fatty acid, which is essential for the health of your heart.
Second, it provides you with the amount of protein that you may be lacking. Flaxseed packs a set of plant-based amino acids that are instrumental for your health. These amino acids include glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and arginine.
Aside from the health benefits, flaxseed is also great for baking. Not only will it bind the ingredients together, but it’ll also add softness to the overall texture. That’s why flaxseed can make the best banana bread.
Unlike oatmeal, oat bran has low calories compared to the nutrients. Thus, it approximates the relatively low calories of wheat bran. That’s so as 100 grams of oat bran pack 400 kcal, while the same amount of wheat bran has 333 kcal.
Another advantage backs up this rather small difference in calories. Oat bran is rich in the soluble form of fibersâ€”beta-glucan. This type of fiber is believed to help improve cholesterol levels significantly. So much so that any food rich in beta-glucan has got the stamp of approval from the FDA to be called â€œheart-healthy.â€
Oat Bran and Inflammation
Avenanthramides. No, this isn’t a spell, although it might as well be. This is the family of antioxidants that oat bran has in abundance. Oat bran owes its anti-inflammatory potential to this family, as avenanthramides have been tied to reducing inflammation.
While other parts of the oat grain lack the antioxidants ferulic acid and phytic acid, oat bran has them. All of these antioxidants help neutralize the increasing threat of free radicals. Thus, standing in the way of chronic diseases and even cancers.
Besides fighting inflammation, baking with oat bran makes for delicious dishes, and apple oat bran muffins are a great example of that.
Wheat bran is the outer layer of the wheat grain. Analogously, rice bran is the outer layer of the rice grain. This rice bran is most known for its oil, which helps with many health problems. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: rice bran captures all of the health benefits its oil is known for.
What Are the Most Significant Uses of Rice Bran?
Two particular uses of rice bran are combating kidney stones and controlling cholesterol. It’s said to achieve the latter by decreasing the absorption of cholesterol and increasing its elimination. Regarding kidney stones, it stops their formation by hindering calcium absorption.
When it comes to fiber content, rice bran stands somewhere in the middle between wheat bran and oat bran. That’s as it packs 20 grams of fiber per 100 grams, with oat bran having 17.5 and wheat bran having 40 grams in the same amount.
With the rise of gluten-free baking, rice bran presents a good choice that gives your recipe a boost in nutrients. If you want to bake both gluten-free and dairy-free, then you should give rice bran muffins a go.
Now, we come to the healthy version of your usual flour. Unlike white flour, whole-wheat flour retains all the goodies, nutrition-wise. It keeps both wheat germ and wheat bran in the mix. Thus, you can think of it as a concentrated dose of what you need.
On the downside, you’ll need to add more water while baking with it, and it won’t give the same fluffy texture your white flour does. Also, it certainly isn’t recommended for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
[Related Article: 22 Best Wheat Flour Substitute List You Need to Start Baking]
Oatmeal, the established healthy breakfast, can suffice in place of wheat bran. Unlike the latter, oatmeal has no gluten. However, it has the same issue of cross-contamination, meaning other gluten-rich products can rub off on it. So, double-check the label, and don’t mix it with other wheat products in your kitchen.
While oats are one of the whole-grain foods, most of their whole forms take quite a while to cook. That’s why other forms are just as fine to use, with the added benefit of easy, fast preparation. These other forms include steel-cut, rolled, and crushed oats.
What Are the Benefits of Oatmeal?
According to research, oatmeal can cut cholesterol levels by 7%. What’s more, it only affects the bad cholesterol, while letting the good type thrive. Other health benefits of oatmeal include:
- Alleviates constipation
- Contributes to weight loss
- Eases skin itching
- Good for healthy bacteria in the digestive tract
- Lowers the level of sugar in the blood
- Decreases the chances of developing colon cancer
[Related Article: All-Purpose or Self Rising Flour for Pizza Dough]
Wheat bran is one of the richest foods in fiber, whether soluble or insoluble. What makes fiber important is that it makes you feel full, thus helping you drop weight. Additionally, wheat bran, with its fiber content and other healthy nutrients contributes to your heart’s health.
The good news is that wheat bran isn’t the only food having these health benefits. You can use flaxseed and get most of the nutrients, along with consuming no gluten. Other alternatives include oat bran, oatmeal, wheat germ, and rice bran.