Why Wheat Germ?! It sounds as if it would only be found in health food stores and only consumed in bland, diet style foods, but wheat germ is a nutrition standout that everyone should consider incorporating into their intakes! It’s a small change, but you gain BIG health benefits! Wheat germ is one of three parts (bran, endosperm, germ) that make up a grain of wheat, which is the seed that is planted in fields to grow wheat grass. The germ is the portion of a wheat grain that turns it into a plant by a process called germination. Most of the wheat grain’s fat is found in wheat germ, which makes it the most nutrient-rich part of the grain.
Wheat germ is a great source of folic acid, which help prevent neural-tube birth defects in women of childbearing age. Folic acid also has the ability to reduce levels of homocysteine which are linked to reducing risk of heart disease and osteoporosis bone fractures. And finally, wheat germ contains a powerful antioxidant called L-ergothioneine that is not affected by cooking. The fiber boost you get from wheat germ is unsurpassable.
Wheat germ is inexpensive and can be easily incorporated into your daily intake by adding it to breakfast cereals, oatmeal, bread and muffin recipes, pancake batter, casseroles, yogurt, homemade granola, or using as a replacement for bread crumbs in most recipes. I recommend toasting the wheat germ before adding to recipes or sprinkling on food, to bring out the germ’s nutty, slightly sweet flavor that is not prominent in raw wheat germ.
Since wheat germ contains unsaturated fat, it can become rancid quickly if not stored properly. A jar of wheat germ typically has the shelf life of approximately one year. Once the jar is opened, you should store your wheat germ in an air tight container in your refrigerator, or freezer if you would like a longer shelf life. If you are uncertain if your wheat germ is fresh, you can test by smelling your wheat germ. Fresh wheat germ should smell similar to toasted nuts.
So the next time you sit down for breakfast or your in the kitchen trying a new recipe, consider adding the powerful nutrient packed wheat germ to your meal!