Good things come in small packages, nutritionally speaking. Why just look at the health benefits of wheat germ; each flake of the germ itself has vitamins, minerals and nutrients bursting with goodness. Wheat germ is easily found in almost every grocery store, just look in the baking aisle. And when you’re pregnant, looking to become pregnant or cooking for the family, adding wheat germ to your culinary repertoire is a surefire way to insure excellent health.
What is Wheat Germ?
Wheat germ is made from the germ of the wheat kernel. The germ is what grows into a new wheat plant and is left out of white four when processing wheat. Bran is the outermost portion of the wheat kernel, also left of when heavy processing is used. Endosperm is what white flour is made from and is mainly composed of protein and starch. Whole wheat flour is made from the germ, endosperm and bran.
Wheat germ is available separately to purchase. It’s is removed from the wheat kernel and ground down into flakes. No vitamins or minerals are added to it and none are taken from it.
What Nutrients does Wheat Germ contain?
You are going to be stunned when you find out how many nutrients are in wheat germ. 1 cup of wheat germ has 60 grams of carbohydrates BUT more impressively it has 15 grams of dietary fiber, that’s 61% of your needed daily dietary fiber. For a nation that desperately needs to eat more whole grains, wheat germ is a no-brainer.
Wheat germ also has an amazing array of the B vitamins needed for cell strength and power; thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, along with B6. All of your B vitamins should be increased during pregnancies due their use in the nervous system and for energy production. Choline, for example, during pregnancy is important for maintaining all the growing cell membranes. In addition to the aforementioned vitamins what makes wheat germ so essential during pregnancy is the amount of folate it contains. There’s more than 80% of your daily recommended folate in 1 cup of wheat germ. Folic acid is what is what our food is fortified with; folate is found naturally in foods. Folic acid during pregnancy is essential for avoiding neural tube defects and spinal injuries and naturally found folate is the way to go.
Wheat germ also has an abundance of minerals necessary for optimal human health too. Potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and selenium are ALL found in wheat germ and in impressive amounts. Potassium helps regulate sodium in the body, phosphorus is found in DNA, RNA and ATP (energy) and calcium which helps muscles contract (like the heart) and creates strong bones. Selenium, a lesser known mineral, is needed for specific amino acid production and is known to function in the thyroid helping maintain a normal hormone balance, protein production, weight maintenance and how quickly the body produces energy. The benefits for wheat germ couldn’t get any better.
Or could they?
Wheat germ also has more than 800 micrograms of omega-3 fatty acids, so essential before, during and after pregnancy and for the whole family. Omega-3 fatty acids, like the ones found in fish and fish oil supplements, are used in the body in a number of ways. They improve lipid profiles in general which means they improve HDL, LDL, total cholesterol and triglycerides. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce coronary heart disease, they reduce calcium stones, they decreases inflammation in the body and omega-3 fatty acids improves and reverses insulin resistance.
How Can You Use It?
Wheat germ is SO EASY to use! Seriously, a tablespoon or two every day goes a long way towards better health.
You can bake with wheat germ- substitute ½ to 1 full cup in any recipe and you add a seriously amazing nutty flavor and beautiful texture. You don’t have to change the whole recipe to reap the benefits. For example, consider adding it to breads, cookies, cakes, granola or pies. The kids will never know!
Sprinkle a tablespoon- Leave a tablespoon and the wheat germ somewhere easily accessible and sprinkle some on…
- Your morning cereal or oatmeal- It instantly absorbs and you’ll feel fiber-full all afternoon.
- Add it to bread crumbs- When breading chicken, pork chops or making meatballs don’t forget the wheat germ.
- Add it to smoothies-If you’re not making fruit smoothies at home you’re missing out! Kids love them, they’re so refreshing in the summer and the antioxidants from the berries alone are so good for the body. Adding a tablespoon of wheat germ can turn your smoothie into a nutritional gem.
- Sprinkle into pancake or waffle batter-You know those Saturday mornings when you’re making pancakes for the family, why not add a tablespoon of wheat germ too?
The cooking, baking and nutritional possibilities for wheat germ are endless. Try some today and you’ll never leave it out of a recipe again.