Facts on the Health Benefits of Wheat Germ

by Contributor

A close-up of wheat germ on a plate.

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Get Your Nutrients and Fatty Acids

The three parts of a wheat kernel are the bran, germ and endosperm. The wheat bran is the fibrous outer layer, the germ is the center and is the main source of essential fats and vitamins in wheat. The middle layer, in between the bran and germ, is the endosperm. This starchy part is the bulk of wheat, and the only part of the wheat kernel used in white flour. While the endosperm provides carbohydrates, the wheat germ contains the majority of a wheat kernel's nutrition.

Eat Your Dietary Fiber

One 115g serving of wheat germ contains 60 percent of your daily dietary fiber requirement. Adequate fiber intake is associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Fiber also helps your body rid itself of toxins, working to prevent colon cancer and other digestive anomalies. However, the body also need an adequate intake of fat to properly digest and use the nutrients in wheat.

Avoid Rancid Wheat Germ

Because of the delicate oils in wheat germ, it goes rancid about as quickly as unrefrigerated milk. Thus, wheat germ purchased in the stores is often already rancid. Rancidity is a measure of the deterioration of oils and fats exposed to air. This form of oxidation produces volatile molecules and can destroy nutrients in the food. Natural antioxidants in wheat, including vitamin E, slow the process of oxidation. Fresh flour contains the most nutrients and minimal oxidation; wheat flours stored at room temperature for a week have lost a great deal of their vitamins and nutrients.

Consume as Part of the Whole Grain

Wheat is best consumed in its entirety. The whole grain is highly nutritious when properly processed and prepared; when over processed, nutrition drops drastically or even ceases. In the case of white bread products, the nutritious wheat germ has been entirely removed from the flour, basically negating its nutritional value. For this reason, avoid white flour and any baked goods made with white flour. Fresh, whole wheat flour is the best for your health. Consider milling your own with a home mill, or buying fresh ground flour form a health food store or natural food co-op.

Take Advantage of the High In Protein and Low Glycemic Index

Wheat germ contains a very good amount of protein, 27g per 115-gram serving. It has a low glycemic index, meaning its effect on blood sugar levels is mild. This makes wheat germ acceptable for diabetics who have to control their insulin levels.

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