You might cringe when you hear the phrase "wheat germ," but maybe you should give this food another try. Wheat germ is among the most nutritious of grains, but many wheat products strip away the germ, which significantly reduces the nutritional value of the food. Toasted wheat germ is often eaten as a breakfast cereal, and can also be added to a variety of your favorite recipes to boost the nutrition and help stave off certain chronic medical conditions.
Wheat germ is incredibly high in fiber. In fact, just 1 ounce of toasted wheat germ contains 4.3 grams of fiber. Your daily dose of fiber should be between 20 and 35 grams, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Eating enough fiber keeps your intestines working well, which can lower your risk of developing a painful case of hemorrhoids or an uncomfortable bout of constipation. Fiber might even reduce your chances of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer.
One ounce of toasted wheat germ supplies 4.53 milligrams of vitamin E, which is about one-third of the 15 milligrams you need for the entire day. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage that can increase your risk of heart disease and cancer. The vitamin plays a role in keeping your immune system working properly, too. Getting plenty of vitamin E might also lower your risk of age-related eye disorders and brain dysfunctions.
You need 700 milligrams of phosphorus each day, and 1 ounce of toasted wheat germs provides 325 milligrams, or about half of your daily needs. Phosphorus supports the health of your bones and teeth, and also helps your body make energy from the foods you eat. The mineral helps your heart beat normally, keeps your kidneys working properly and helps maintain the health of your nervous system, as well.
Eating Wheat Germ
If a bowl of toasted wheat germ sounds unappetizing, there are plenty of other ways to add the food to your diet. Puree a tablespoon or so of wheat germ into your favorite smoothie recipe. Bake wheat germ into bread and muffin recipes. It won't change the taste significantly, but it'll add a host of essential nutrients to your baked goods. Use wheat germ in pancake and waffle recipes, too. Shake wheat germ over a tossed green salad or a pasta salad. Stir it into casseroles or soup as additional ways to include this highly nutritious food in your diet.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Cereals Ready-To-Eat, Wheat Germ, Toasted, Plain
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber: Start Roughing It!
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- MedlinePlus: Phosphorus in Diet
- Nutrition Journal: Fermented Wheat Germ Extract: Nutritional Supplement or Anticancer Drug?
- The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Foods; Michael T. Murray
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.