The Nutritious Way Forward
WALK past any health food store in your favorite shopping mall; and you will undoubtedly see advertisements for wheat germ.
It has a reputation for being a powerhouse of nutrients, yet it’s neither valued nor utilized as much as it should be. If people only realised how wonderfully nourishing and curative these tiny yellow flakes are, they would serve them every day, including in their breakfast muesli for example. Wheat germ as a concentrated food is an absolute necessity in our modern world; where so much low-value, denatured food is consumed, causing an increasing prevalence of deficiency diseases.
The word “germ” used here simply refers to the germination process. This germ is the reproductive part that germinates and forms the wheat grass.
BENEFITS OF WHEAT GERM
Wheat germ is high in vitamin E which is an antioxidant that may possibly reduce risks of cancer and age-related macular degeneration(AMD). It helps in maintaining healthy skin, nails and hair.
Wheat germ also contains phytosterols, an essential cholesterol which helps reduce the production and absorption of bad cholesterol keeping your heart healthy and lowering the risk of heart disease. There is also the presence of Omeha-3 fatty acids that promote a healthy heart by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.
The tiny yellow flakes are also a good source of fibre which assist in improved regular bowel function. Lastly, it even contains around 28 percent protein and has more protein than can be found in most meat products.
It is healthy because of many nutrients it has which the human body needs for optimum health and in such an easy-to-absorb form. It has a first–class protein and oil. More important are the phosphates, which keep our nervous system healthy.
Despite being so tiny, it is packed full of naturally produced minerals and vitamins such as potassium, zinc, magnesium, calcium, manganese, phosphorous and selenium – which the body need to grow and stay healthy. Amongst other things, it can help lower the risk of heart disease, certain cancer and improve the body’s immune system.
It’s one of the best sources of folic acid which is recommended because women of childbearing age get sufficient amounts of this nutrient to prevent neutral-tube birth defects. Folic acid reduces a compound in your body called homocysteine. Lower levels of homocysteine have been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis bone fractures, and dementia. It also contains a phytonutrient called L-ergothioneine, which is a powerful antioxidant that is not destroyed by cooking. The fibre boost you get from wheat germ is phenomenal.
FORMS OF WHEAT GERM AVAILABLE IN THE MARKET
When purchasing wheat germ, it is helpful to understand the many different forms in which it can be obtained and what your buying options are.
For instance, raw wheat germ is the fresh, raw product and provides the most nutritional value as it retains all the vitamins and minerals as well as some of the oils. However, it goes rancid quickly due to the high moisture content. It is best refrigerated for longer shelf life.
Defatted wheat germ, however, maintains a high level of protein. It is also high in amino acids such as leucine, arginine, glycine and glutamic acid while the sweet, nut-like taste of toasted wheat germ is preferred by most. Although it losses a small amount of nutrition in the process, it is not enough to make a significant difference. Toasted wheat germ is a good source of B vitamins especially niacin, pantothenic acid, B6 and folate. It also contains antioxidants, Vitamin E and Lutein minerals which are necessary for your brain, heart and circulatory system, muscles and bones.
Wheat germ oil is the pure oil pressed from the wheat germ. It has a high amount of natural vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin A and also has lecithin. These provide regular users with more vibrant skin, better functioning body systems and better neurological responses. It keeps away the symptoms of dermatitis, thereby preventing the skin from being victimised by various kinds of problems.
Pratt.S. & Matthews. K. (2004). Superfoods RX.
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18. (2008.)
MAKING WHEAT GERM PART OF OUR DIET
It is so easy to incorporate into your diet. The benefits of wheat germ can be derived by just adding a tablespoonful to any of your breakfast beverage. Since wheat germ has such a pleasant, sweet and nutty taste, it was added into baking breads.
It can be used in cookies and cakes or sprinkled over cereals and yogurt or other desserts as a topping. It can also be added to salads and soups. When used in homemade meatloaf and burgers, it acts as a binder and extends the recipes without being intrusive in texture or flavor and can also be mixed with herbs and spices for use as a coating, where breadcrumbs might otherwise be used, on fish or fishcakes, chicken or rissoles. It is also available in a capsule or an oil form. It transports well and is relatively cheap to buy – makes it an absolute winner!
If you haven’t tried wheat germ yet, give it a go. It comes highly recommended.