Made by cooking ground wheat grains in water until they form a porridge, cream of wheat makes for a healthful breakfast that's both adaptable and affordable. It's a great source of fuel if you've been feeling under the weather -- the University of Wisconsin includes cream of wheat in a bland food diet, designed to help you transition to solid food after stomach upset. Cream of wheat also offers a range of health benefits and is an especially rich source of iron.
Each cup of cooked cream of wheat contains just 126 calories, so it allows you to enjoy a large meal that fits well into a calorie-controlled diet. A serving provides 26.4 grams of carbohydrates -- a source of sugar, which can fuel your tissues, including your brain -- including 1.3 grams of dietary fiber, a type of carb linked to a lower risk of obesity. Cream of wheat contains just a small amount of protein -- 3.6 grams per serving -- and offers half a gram of fat.
Cream of wheat comes packed with iron and also offers a generous amount of calcium. Your body relies on iron for proper oxygen transport -- it helps your red blood cells carry fresh oxygen away from your lungs -- and for oxygen storage. It also helps your white blood cells function, which fends off infection. A cup of cooked cream of wheat contains 9.4 milligrams of iron -- more than the daily needs for men and 52 percent of the daily requirements for women. The calcium in cream of wheat helps support nerve function, activates enzymes essential for muscle contraction and contributes to strong bones. Eat a cup of cream of wheat and you'll boost your calcium intake by 218 milligrams, or 22 percent of your daily needs.
Thiamine and Folate
Adding cream of wheat to your diet also helps you consume more thiamine and folate -- also called vitamins B-1 and B-9, respectively. Each 1-cup portion of cooked cream of wheat boasts 138 micrograms of thiamine -- 13 and 12 percent of the daily recommended intakes for women and men, respectively -- along with 45 micrograms of folate, which is 11 percent of your daily needs. Thiamine activates a range of enzymes, including ones involved in brain function, carbohydrate metabolism and cholesterol production, while folate helps lower your risk of colorectal cancer.
Healthful Serving Tips
Use toppings to add nutritional value to your cream of wheat. Top your bowl with a handful of mixed berries and a spoonful of chopped almonds, or make "peaches and cream" cream of wheat by adding chopped fresh peaches and vanilla-flavored nonfat yogurt. Alternatively, add pumpkin puree to your cream of wheat as it cooks, and add a drizzle of maple syrup for a decadent-tasting breakfast, or make "banana bread" cream of wheat by adding mashed banana, cinnamon and chopped walnuts.
- University of Wisconsin-Madison: Gastroenteritis - Upset Stomach
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cereals, Cream of Wheat, Regular (10 Minute), Cooked With Water, Without Salt
- McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients: the Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat
- Linus Pauling Institute: Iron
- Linus Pauling Institute: Calcium
- Linus Pauling Institute: Thiamin
- Linus Pauling Institute: Folic Acid