Wheat kernels have three primary parts: the bran, the endosperm and the germ. After the tough outer bran is removed and the starchy endosperm gets pulled away, you’re left with just the germ. The germ may be the tiniest part, but it fuels the entire wheat kernel by storing a big chunk of the nutrients. By adding wheat germ to your smoothies, breakfast cereal or salads, you’ll be drastically upping the nutritional value of your favorite meal.
Full of Good Fat
One-quarter cup, amounting to around 1 ounce of wheat germ, has slightly less than 105 calories. About one-fourth of the total calories, or 25 calories, come from fat. While you may think that something with such a high fat percentage is detrimental to your health, think again. Wheat germ is loaded with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These good fats protect your heart by lowering blood cholesterol and improving your blood pressure.
Rich in Fiber
For the most part, grains, like wheat germ, are a hearty source of insoluble fiber. If you’re ever feeling backed up, it’s the insoluble fiber that’ll act like a broom and push out all that waste. Having plenty of insoluble fiber in your diet keeps you regular, although it’s important to focus on your overall fiber recommendation, not just getting a specific type of fiber. For a usual 2,000-calorie diet, you’ll need 28 grams of fiber, which meets the 14 grams per every 1,000-caloirie increment recommendation, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Finding a way to consume just one-quarter cup of wheat germ every day, which provides 3.8 grams of total fiber, takes up nearly 14 percent of your recommendation.
High in B Vitamins
One perk of separating the germ of the wheat kernel is that you’re getting a rich source of B vitamins. The B vitamins work hard and rely on one another to keep your metabolism going at full force. They convert the foods you eat into energy and help store energy for later use. In their spare time, B vitamins power your brain cells, create new red blood cells and keep your neurological system working. You’ll get over 12 percent of your daily requirement of niacin from a quarter cup of wheat germ, and 20 percent of your folate needs, over 20 percent of your B-6 recommendation, more than 10 percent of the daily riboflavin you require and nearly half of the thiamin you need on a daily basis.
Full of Minerals
Wheat germ is a natural source of all kinds of minerals you need in your daily diet. You’ll get more than one-third of your daily zinc requirement from a quarter cup of wheat germ. Zinc can protect your vision, aids in creating new cells and boosts the functions of your immune system. That same serving of wheat germ even provides more than a third of your phosphorus for the day. Phosphorus supports genetic functions in your cells, transports fats in your blood and strengthens your bones. For further bone strength, your serving of wheat germ provides more than 15 percent of your requirement of magnesium for the day. A one-quarter cup serving of wheat germ also gives you more than 10 percent of your daily iron needs to help with oxygen transportation throughout your body.
- Whole Grains Council: What is a Whole Grain?
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Wheat Germ, Crude
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Harvard Medical School: Listing of Vitamins
- Harvard Medical School: Fats and Cholesterol: Out with the Bad, In with the Good