Is wheat germ good for you? The answer is "Yes." Despite its small size, wheat germ is a powerhouse of nutrition. As a natural-food basic, it provides a reliable burst of nutrients, including protein, B vitamins, and essential minerals like magnesium, zinc, and iron.
What is Wheat Germ?
Wheat germ isn't a germ at all. Its name is short for "germinate." As the wheat seed's reproductive part, the "germ" helps produce wheat grass.
Accounting for only 2 1/2 percent of the seed's total weight, wheat germ is deceptive in its size. Who would guess that within its tiny casing you'd find a bevy of vitamins and minerals? Just two tablespoons packs a nutritional punch.
Wheat germ contains:
- Folate (folic acid)
- Vitamin E
The Good Germ
Did you know that wheat germ contains more relative potassium and iron than most any other food? What's more, it is also a good source of protein, fiber, and fatty acids and alcohols.Protein-wise, wheat germ is nearly 30% protein, making it one of the best sources around. For anyone eating a diet that's low in saturated fats, think of wheat germ as a supplement to your daily intake.
For vegetarians especially, the "germ" makes a good addition to cooking as its nutty flavor either complements or altogether disappears when combined with other flavors, such as salty, sweet, spicy, or zesty. When added, all its nutrients remain, especially vitamin B12, iron and zinc.
Is Wheat Germ Good for You?
A staple of any health-food store, wheat germ is all about nutrition. In addition to being high in vitamins, minerals and protein, wheat germ also works as an antioxidant, a digestive aid, a stress reliever, and an energy booster.
- Its phytonutrient L-egothioneine possesses antioxidant properties not destroyed by cooking.
- Wheat germ oil, or octacosanol, is said to enhance physical performance, lower blood levels of cholesterol and provide a major source of vitamin E (protecting the body from free-radical damage). For fatty acids, it contains linoleic acid (omega-3 and -6), palmitic acid, and oleic acid.
- Wheat germ is a good source of folic acid, which for women, can help prevent osteoporosis and for those of a childbearing age, neural-tube defects in babies.
Benefits of Wheat Germ
If anyone ever asks you, "Is wheat germ good for you?" you can respond with "Absolutely." Indeed, the nutritious heart of wheat really seems to have no drawbacks. Given its high concentration of essential nutrients, it's little wonder why wheat germ is so prized for its beneficial properties. This said, studies continue over the extent of wheat germ's powers are.
Some of the health benefits of wheat germ include:
- Cardiovascular health: By lowering cholesterol levels, wheat germ provides heart protection.
- Diabetes: Wheat germ is a strong source of fiber, which benefits digestion, but also proves beneficial to patients with diabetes since fiber doesn't raise glucose levels.
- Wheat germ strengthens the immune system
- It balances metabolism and improves oxygen use within the body.
- Age-defying: Wheat germ improves skin and helps in the repair of tissues.
- It helps increase stamina and the storage of muscle energy.
- Weight loss: It's also a good addition for a diet low in saturated fats.
Cooking with Wheat Germ
It's easy to eat more wheat germ. Available in a variety of forms, including raw, toasted, and oil, wheat germ can be as versatile as your recipe requires. For instance, often used in baking, you can replace a half cup of flour with a half cup of wheat germ, and no one will notice the difference. Although their bodies will.
Wheat germ can be used in muffins, breads, cookies, and pancakes. Given its nutty flavor, recipes that use nuts are a particularly good match. Yet wheat germ can be used as a cooking oil too, as well as a flavoring oil for salads and pasta. Another way to enjoy wheat germ is to sprinkle it into your yogurt of cereal. It's a good low-fat stand-in for granola.
As wheat germ's legion of fans grows by the day, new ways of using it continue to be discovered. Perhaps one will work best for you.
Try the following resources for more great wheat germ recipes: