What is Wheat Bran?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Most grains, like wheat and oats, have a hard outer layer. When they are processed, this layer becomes a byproduct, and is called bran. In the case of processing wheat to make wheat flour, one gets miller’s or wheat bran. It is packed with nutrition, and offers many dietary benefits.

A pile of wheat bran.
A pile of wheat bran.

Wheat bran is commonly found in certain cereals, like Raisin Bran or Bran Flakes, as well as bran muffins, which rose to popularity in the 1980s. Wheat bran is beneficial toward providing digestive regularity and ending constipation because it is very high in dietary fiber. Some also claim that foods containing bran provide a feeling of fullness. This claim may be true, since it tends to absorb water and expand in the digestive system.

Wheat ears along with a small pile of wheat kernels (also known as wheat berries).
Wheat ears along with a small pile of wheat kernels (also known as wheat berries).

The nutritional benefits of wheat bran are mainly undisputed. For a time, it was thought that it might fight cancer, but this remains largely unproven. However, a cup (58 g) of wheat bran does offer significant nutritional pluses. One cup contains 99% of the US recommended daily allowance (RDA) of fiber, nine grams of protein, and 34% of the RDA for iron. It is also high in protein, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin B6, and is low in fat, with no cholesterol, and no sugar or sodium.

Wheat bran is often added to granola cereals.
Wheat bran is often added to granola cereals.

It's possible to purchase wheat bran in bulk, which makes it quite easy to add to cereals like granola or to baked goods. Adding it to muffins is a natural choice, but it can also be added to pancakes, biscuits, waffles, or even cookies is a great way to bulk up the nutritional value of a food. Some people even take powdered bran to get their needed dietary fiber each day. A small amount of wheat bran can be added to smoothies, especially when it is finely powdered.

Wheat bran is a byproduct of wheat flour production.
Wheat bran is a byproduct of wheat flour production.

Wheat bran has a sweet taste, but not all find it appealing. It’s also important to start slow when adding it to foods. A little too much can easily translate to diarrhea. Further, as with all wheat sources, those who have celiac disease should not use it.

A healthy green breakfast smoothie may feature wheat bran in addition to kale and other nutritious green vegetables.
A healthy green breakfast smoothie may feature wheat bran in addition to kale and other nutritious green vegetables.

It's important to note that just adding bran to food doesn't make it that healthy. For example, some wheat bran cereals may be high in high fructose corn syrup or sugar, and bran muffins may contain a lot of fat. Pancakes with bran may lose a bit of their nutritional value if slathered with butter and syrup.

Wheat bran cannot be stored like regular wheat flour. It tends to get rancid and is best stored in the refrigerator, especially if one plans to store it for long. Alternately, it may be stored in a vacuum-sealed canister at a moderate temperature. If you note that it tastes bitter, it is probably rancid, and should be discarded.

Wheat bran is extremely high in fiber and can be blended into a banana-orange or other fruit smoothie.
Wheat bran is extremely high in fiber and can be blended into a banana-orange or other fruit smoothie.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon1002143

My husband and I have been taking the Red Wheat Bran (color is dark brown) for 20 or 30 years, on the advice of our "butt" doctor. My husband has had diverticulitis/diverticulosis for about 30 years. As long as he takes his bran every day, preferably on an empty stomach, he has no problems. For some reason, two of the places we've been buying our bran no longer carry it. We just found it in bulk at Earth Fare, and it is 99 cents/lb. This bran is excellent if you have constipation problems, and it also makes one feel full. We take ours in a little juice (for taste) and filled up with water. For first timers, I would start off with maybe two or three tablespoons; adjust as needed. You don't want diarrhea. Hope this info helps others.

Metamech

"Pancakes with bran may lose a bit of their nutritional value if slathered with butter and syrup."

How does nutritional value get cancelled out by adding syrup and butter? Are we talking at a molecular level?

anon320467

Where can I get wheat bran in Mumbai, India?

anon168243

A 50 lb bag at the feed store is under $5.

anon163006

Bob's Red Mill Wheat Bran, $1.27 per bag at Vitacost.

anon142036

I have question: what is the main reason behind water holding capacity in wheat bran? Is it cellulose, hemicellulose or lignin? And how can we get dry wheat bran, meaning what compound should we remove to get the dried form?

Please answer. I am doing a project on it and i need an answer desperately.

anon135069

wheat bran is easily available in Pakistan usually used to feed animals in Pakistan on a commercial level. I am a veterinary doctor, Ali K. from Pakistan.

anon110517

I have a question: how much wheat needs to be milled to produce one pound (16 ounces) of flour? Or perhaps another way of asking is: what percentage of wheat kernels is flour, and what percentage is bran and other materials? Also, what is pollard? Same thing as bran?

anon91474

wheat bran is a non-digestible or non available carbohydrate.

anon84531

can wheat bran be taken with water or mixed with water only?

miffyask

can you gain weight from eating too much wheat bran? I mean disregarding the gastro effect-- is it much like over eating any grain products? How many calories are digestible in wheat bran?

anon59025

you can buy wheat bran at winco foods.

anon52894

You can also get wheat bran fiber from All-Bran cereal.

anon50473

I just purchased wheat bran at 'Whole Foods' in NY, so it's probably available at health food stores.

sclark121

Is gluten found in wheat bran and/or oat bran?

anon31799

You can buy Bob's Red Mill wheat bran at GNC or Whole Foods for $1.69 a bag.

Kawsar

Natural Wheat Bran is available in the store under President's Choice brand.

Recently I started adding Wheat Bran in my oatmeal and pancakes for extra fiber.

Eating it can cause kidney stones?

anon23861

seriously, guys its just wheat bran. like...for reals.

anon23703

I have also had kidney stones due to wheat bran. I used to eat allbran cereal for fiber, but now I eat lentils instead - much better!

branbaby

I cut wheat out of my diet a couple of months ago and have noticed a lot of benefits (I do not have celiac disease). However, I still use 1/4 unprocessed bran with my oatmeal every day - I have used it for the last 30 years and I don't want to give it up! I just realized that the unprocessed bran probably does not have gluten in it, which is the real problem for people who have celiac disease (or so I've been told). Is that true?

liaglynnn

Do you know where I can purchase wheat bran? I have looked at wal-mart and sams club. Neither have it and the store associate informed me that I "can't purchase that separately from Raisin Bran. It only is made for that specific cereal." Thought you may like a good chuckle there as I did all the way out of the store.

anon8570

Do you eat wheat bran separately or do you add it to other foods? And, how much should be eaten daily?

anon2338

I had a few episodes of kidney stones. One of the foods I was told to avoid was WHEAT BRAN because it is very high in oxalates. Despite all the benefits of it, I cannot eat it. Is it in all breads?

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