What is Wheat Germ?
A grain of wheat is also known as the ‘wheat kernel’ or ‘wheat berry’. This is the seed that grows into wheat grass as we see it in fields.
Wheat germ is a very small part of a grain of wheat - approx 2.5% of the weight.
The word ‘germ’ refers to germination, which is the reproductive part of the kernel that germinates and forms the wheat grass.
As you can see from the diagram the wheat kernel is divided up into 3 distinctive parts:
- Bran: The bran is the outside layer of the kernel and is approx 14% of the kernel weight. It contains the most fiber and protects the inner parts of the wheat kernel.
- Endosperm: The endosperm makes up approx 83% of the kernel weight and the source of white flour. The endosperm contains the greatest share of protein, carbohydrates and iron, as well as the major B-vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin and iron. It is also a source of soluble fiber3.
- Germ: The germ is the part of the wheat kernel that germinates and turns into a plant. The majority of the kernel's fat is found in wheat germ. It is the most nutrient-rich part of the wheat.
Due to the high levels of nutrients contained in the wheat germ, it is extracted from the kernel and used as a supplement to create healthy meals.
You can purchase wheat germ from health stores or online and add them to foods like protein shakes, cereals, toast or as part of general cooking.
Wheat Germ Benefits
If you ask any nutrition expert or dietitian you will no doubt receive a glowing indictment on the many benefits of wheat germ.
However, if you ask a Doctor you may or may not receive such a positive response.
As with any food that contains healthy vitamins and/or minerals, doctors will always argue with how much of a health benefit is actually derived from the substance.
The good news is that Wheat Germ does contain many of these vitamins and minerals that are needed to maintain the workings of our inner body – no matter how small.
Millions of people take vitamin supplements every single day. Most people don’t actually need these supplements as they are usually found in a normal healthy diet.
However In today’s hectic lifestyle it is not always possible to maintain a healthy daily diet and we often seek out vitamin supplements to top up any deficiencies we may have.
Wheat Germ Can Be Used As A Natural Supplement
As with vitamin supplements, wheat germ can be used in the same way, but in a natural form.
Wheat germ is a good source of:
- B vitamins such as folate, niacin, thiamin, and vitamin B6
- Complex carbs
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin E
As you can see the benefits of wheat germ are quite substantial and it is particularly high in vitamin E - an antioxidant which is good for the skin and has anti-aging properties.
Wheat germ also has a phytosterol content which has been shown to lower cholesterol and promote a healthy heart. In addition, wheat germ is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids helps to lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as being important for nervous system functioning, and help elevate mood.
Wheat germ is also a good source of fiber which has many benefits including improved bowel function and may reduce the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes and prevent weight gain.
The evidence regarding the benefits of wheat germ is pretty compelling to say the least. As a natural supplement to any form of deficiencies, wheat germ is certainly worth considering. Any natural food is preferable to taking man-made supplements.