Health Benefits of Wheat Germ

Wheat is a staple in the diets of cultures all over the world. It’s known to have been cultivated in Europe and Asia as far back as 9,000 years ago. Today, people eat grains to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Grains and cereals like wheat contain complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.

The wheat plant is a long grass that has a spike at the top. The spike contains wheat berries, anywhere from 20 to 100 berries per plant. Each wheat berry has three parts: the bran, endosperm, and the germ.

The bran is the skin on the outside of the wheat berry. The endosperm, what makes up most of a wheat berry, is inside the bran. The germ is the part of the wheat berry that sprouts to grow into a new plant. When wheat is being refined into white flour, usually the bran and the germ are removed.

However, the germ is the healthiest part of the wheat berry. Even though it’s quite small, only about 3% of the wheat berry, it’s a nutritional powerhouse. You can add wheat germ to many different foods to experience its health benefits.

Health Benefits

There are several benefits of wheat germ. Wheat germ is not a food that is eaten on its own, but there are several ways that you can incorporate it into your diet.

Maintenance of Natural Body Functions

Wheat germ contains a variety of minerals that help your body perform different functions. Zinc, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium are all packed inside the germ.

Zinc helps to strengthen your immune system and fight viruses, like the common cold. Magnesium also helps to boost your immune system, in addition to helping keep your heart and bones strong. Phosphorus helps to repair and grow tissue with the help of calcium. Manganese plays an important role in bone health and maintaining the immune system.

Better Digestion

Another benefit of wheat germ is that it’s high in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber helps your body to maintain regular, healthy bowel movements. Additionally, a diet high in fiber helps to regulate blood cholesterol levels.

Continued

More Energy

One of the best of wheat germ’s benefits is that it contains many essential vitamins. Several of these are B vitamins like folate, thiamin, and B6. B vitamins help your body turn carbohydrates and fat into energy for your body.

Boosts Immunity

Wheat germ has high levels of vitamin E. This vitamin is an antioxidant that helps to protect fat-containing substances in the body. Some examples of these substances are brain cells, cell membranes, and cholesterol. Vitamin E protects them from damage that can be caused by free radicals in the body. This damage can lead to serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Wheat germ contains phytosterols, substances with help to lower cholesterol absorption. Since they have a similar shape to cholesterol, they can block receptors in the intestines from taking in bad cholesterol. This may help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack.

Stronger Muscles

Wheat germ is a great source of plant-based protein. Protein helps you to stay full in addition to performing essential body functions like building and repairing muscles.

Health Risks

There are many benefits of wheat germ. However, it’s important to take note of the following potential risks:

Allergic Reactions

Wheat germ contains wheat germ agglutinin. This is a kind of protein that is connected with wheat allergy.

If you have a mild wheat allergy, your symptoms could be worse after eating wheat germ than after eating whole-grain products. Since wheat germ agglutinate is from the germ itself, you might notice that your wheat allergy is more easily triggered by eating wheat germ alone.

Kidney Stones

Wheat germ is high in oxalate. Oxalate is a compound that is made by your body as a waste product. Eating too much oxalate can cause kidney stones in some people. Wheat germ has about 10 milligrams of oxalic acid per tablespoon.

Amounts and Dosage

There are several ways that you can incorporate wheat germ into your daily diet. You can find it at many health food stores as a dietary supplement.

Raw wheat germ looks like breadcrumbs and has a crunchy texture. However, wheat germ can also be made into powders, oil, or extracts. A one-tablespoon serving only has 25 calories and can be added to a number of dishes.

One common way to eat raw wheat germ is by putting it on top of hot or cold cereal or yogurt. You can also add it into muffins, casseroles, or pancakes as you cook them. You can even put wheat germ in foods like smoothies and entrees like meatloaf.

There is no official recommended daily allowance for what germ; however, most supplements recommend one tablet or tablespoon per day.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 22, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Botanical Council: “Wheat Germ.”

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Inhibition of cholesterol absorption by phytosterol-replete wheat germ compared with phytosterol-depleted wheat germ.”

Mayo Clinic: “High cholesterol.”

Mayo Clinic: “Health foods.”

Mayo Clinic: Whole grains: Hearty options for a healthy diet.”

Michigan Medicine: “Foods High in Oxalate.”

Michigan State University: “Wheat germ.”

Micronutrient Information Center: “Vitamin E.”

The Nutrition Source: “B Vitamins.”

The World’s Healthiest Foods: “Should I be eating wheat germ?”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination

Get Diet and Fitness Tips In Your Inbox

Eat better and exercise smarter. Sign up for the Food & Fitness newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the WebMD Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of WebMD subscriptions at any time.