Wheat grain consists of three parts – bran, germ and the endosperm. Wheat barn is the outer cover, which is generally fibrous. The bulk middle layer is the endosperm which is the storehouse of wheat. It stores essential starchy material. The center is the germ, which contains essential vitamins and fatty acids. Fibrous barn and germ are removed while wheat processing. Germ has tendency to turn rancid due to presence of unsaturated fatty acids. However wheat germ contains nutrients as required in a healthy diet and offers health benefits. People often eat wheat germ in forms as wheat germ flakes, wheat germ oil or wheat germ capsules.
Nutritional value of Wheat germ
Around 50% of the wheat germ by weight is carbohydrates of which 13% are dietary fibers. 200 grams of wheat germ shall be sufficient to meet daily dietary fiber requirement. Around 10% by weight of wheat germ is fats of which Omega 3 and Omega-6 fatty acids forms the majority (6 gm per 100 gm). Wheat germ is rich in proteins; nearly one fourth of germ material is protein. Wheat gram protein is complete protein. It supplies all nine amino acids required by the body.
Wheat germ is packed with most essential vitamins and minerals. 100 gram of Wheat germ is sufficient to meet 125%, 70% and 65% of daily dietary requirement of Thiamin, Folate and Vitamin B6. Similarly they are dense source of manganese, selenium, Zinc, phosphorus, Magnesium, Iron and copper. Fat soluble Vitamin E is present in small quantity in wheat germ, however they are present in rich quantities in Wheat germ oil. A tablespoon of wheat germ oil contains enough Vitamin E to meet your daily dietary requirement.
Health benefits of Wheat Germ
Just like cereal germs, wheat germ is packed with essential nutrient which can grow into a living plant. Nutrient facts as we have observed are beneficial to our body. Some health benefits of wheat germ are provided below.
Wheat germ for smooth bowel movement
Wheat germ contains large quantities of dietary fibers. Dietary fibers are required by the body for smooth bowel movements. It helps prevent constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.
Wheat germ regulates bloods sugar
Large quantity of dietary fibers helps reduce glycemic index of the food. It slows down digestion of sugar in body. It offers great help in treating diabetes.
Wheat germ in treating Diabetes
While high fiber is good in regulating glucose and treating diabetes, wheat germ has good amount of folic acid which is beneficial in diabetes. Folic acid controls homocysteine in body associated with diabetes and other diseases.
Wheat germ reduces cholesterol
Dietary fiber in wheat germ binds itself to cholesterol and prevents their absorption in intestine. It thus reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases caused due to cholesterol. Dietary fibers also helps get rid of toxins from body which are harmful to heart and other body organs.
Wheat germ for healthy heart
With its antioxidant and cholesterol reducing properties wheat germ is beneficial for your heart. Regular intake of whole wheat or wheat germ reduces risk of heart related disease. Wheat germ oil contains omega 6 fatty acids along with octocosonol and policosanol which improves functioning of heart.
Wheat germ aids digestion
Wheat germ is packed with essential vitamins and minerals which play active role in digestion and body metabolism. It thus helps in healthy state of body.
Wheat germ as protein source
Vegetarian diet is often low in protein. Wheat germ offers good quantity of protein and helps in repair and development of muscles in body.
You may try out some recipes like wheat germ protein bar for enjoying protein content in wheat germ. Blend ½ cup sugar, ½ cup oil, 3 eggs and 1 tsp of lime extract/vanilla extract. Add to this 1 cup wheat flour, ½ cup wheat germ, 2 cups of oats, 1 tsp of baking soda and ½ tsp of salt. Blend this mixture well. Add nuts, rasins, chocolate chips and other fillers. Spread the mixture in rectangular pan. Bake this at 1800 C for 20-30 minutes. Cut in different shapes and enjoy this wheat protein bar. People also enjoy their protein shakes with wheat germ for added benefits.
Wheat germ as an antioxidant
Studies have found that Wheat germ protein hydrolysate is a natural antioxidant. They help in removal of free radicals from body which can damage body tissues and internal organs. Wheat germ oil is very good source of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant. Wheat germ oil as an antioxidant is used in skin applications and health supplements.
Wheat germ for cell growth
Wheat germ contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids including Linoleic acid and linolenic acid which cannot be build in body and are required for healthy cell growth and repair.
Wheat germ for hair
Zinc is required for growth of hair. Deficiency of zinc leads to baldness and scalp problems. Wheat germ supplies body with zinc and is beneficial for hair. One cup of wheat germ is sufficient to meet daily dietary requirement of Zinc.
Wheat germ benefits – Cancer Treatment
Including wheat germ can reduce risk of cancer. It contains various antioxidant which protects body cells from damage. Studies suggest that it contains certain compounds which suppresses processes which stimulate development of cancer in body. Further studies are ongoing to evaluate benefits of wheat germ on cancer cure.
Wheat germ and Weight loss
Wheat germ is good source of vitamin B – Niacin, Thiamine, and folates. These vitamins are vital for cellular metabolism and help in digestion of carbohydrates, lips and glucose into usable energy in body cells. They act as enzyme in increasing cell metabolism. Higher metabolism not only provides more energy to cells, but also aids weight loss process and body strength.
While wheat germ offers various nutrients, its energy density is high and can add high calories to diet. It can help weight loss in controlled quantity.
Wheat germ benefits during pregnancy
Folic acid is essential for absorption of minerals like iron, zinc and copper. Pregnant women and infants are often given folic acid and iron supplements. Folic acid is required for growth of fetus. Adding wheat germ to diet during pregnancy is thus helpful.
Benefits of wheat germ oil
Wheat germ oil is light yellow natural oil obtained by cold pressing of wheat germs. It is viscous and has strong aroma. 100 grams of wheat germ bears around 10 grams of fats out which over 6 grams is Omega 6 fatty acids. Wheat germ oil is naturally enriched with vitamin E and other nutrients. As a supplement 1-2 teaspoons taken daily provide you healthy omega 6 fatty acids and Vitamin E. Since this oil is delicate, improper storage, high temperature turns this oil rancid.
Wheat germ oil for endurance
Octacosanol is compound present in Wheat germ oil which has been reported to increase endurance in athletes. Though there is not much scientific backing, but consumption of wheat germ oil or wheat germ regularly may increase in body activity, stamina and performance.
Benefits of wheat germ oil for skin
As we have seen that wheat germ is rich in Zinc. Zinc offers anti-inflammatory properties ot skin and helps prevent eczema and acne. Sprinkling wheat germ flakes over salads, yoghurt or smoothies are good way to provide body with much needed zinc.
Wheat germ oil has been considered effective in treating fungal skin diseases like psoriasis, skin burns and ulcers. Rich omega 6 fatty acids are helpful if you have a dry skin. Wheat germ oil can be easily absorbed by skin, where it offers nutrients and protective properties to skin. It prevents skin from damage by sunlight. It increases blood circulation in skin. With antioxidant properties it prevents skin from aging and treats wrinkles. Some tips for enjoying skin benefits of wheat germ oil
- Best impact of wheat germ oil shall be when you apply and keep oil over night.
- After bath it can be applied to body instead of moisturizer.
- Apply Wheat germ oil mixed with honey to scalp. Keep it for 1 hour and then take a bath. It will keep scalp healthy and promote hair growth.
Precautions for people with Celiac disease
People with Celiac diseases may avoid wheat germ. Though it has many health benefits, it contains gluten which in some people leads to painful digestive tract disorder. A gluten free diet does not include wheat germ.
Ways to eat wheat germ
Wheat germ Flakes are used directly along with cereals, soups, vegetables, yoghurts and salads. Coarse Wheat germ powder is also used in making bread, desserts or smoothies. It offers sweet and nutty flavor. It can be used as healthy substitute for breadcrumbs. Wheat germ oil is not used in cooking as nutrients are lost on cooking. Rather it is used as dressing oil in salads. It is applied to skin or hair and forms use in cosmetic preparations. Wheat germ supplements in form of capsule or powder are available over the counter. Since wheat germ oil based supplements have large concentration of fat soluble Vitamin E, overdose can be harmful to body.Image Credits: Wikimedia, Flickr - UrbaneWomenMag