Wheat germ is the reproductive part of a grain of wheat -- thus the term germ, meaning to germinate, which left to grow becomes wheat grass. It contains the most fat of the grain and is also the most nutrient rich. It has valuable health benefits, including preventing several major diseases, as well as aiding many other physical and mental functions.
Wheat germ is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, also known as mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats, which are essential to a healthy body. Omega-3 fatty acids control cholesterol, aid in lowering blood pressure and regulate mood swings. This defends the body from heart disease and stroke.
Wheat germ also has a high nutritional source of vitamins and minerals which includes most of the B-vitamins -- thiamin or B1, riboflavin or B2, niacin or B3, folate and pantothenic acid and B6 or pyridoxine. B vitamins help balance the body’s immune system and aid in the synthesis of red corpuscles. Wheat germ is an excellent source of vitamin E, which is needed for maintaining muscle function, supporting a healthy reproductive system, keeping skin healthy, reducing the effects of aging and possibly even preventing the development of cancer. Of the sixteen minerals needed to maintain a healthy body, ten major and six trace minerals are found in wheat germ. They include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc and the trace minerals of copper, manganese and selenium. When added to the diet on a regular basis these nutrients combat maladies like psoriasis, sunburn, eczema, wrinkles, dull complexion and receding hairlines.
Wheat germ is high in fiber, aiding in a healthy lower digestive tract by preventing constipation. Wheat germ also reduces the risk of heart disease, reduces the risk of the development of diabetes, and helps maintain a healthy weight. It is also rich in protein essential to the health of our skin, hair, nails and muscles. It also contains complex carbohydrates to provide fuel to the body and the brain.
Because it boosts the immune system it enables the body to protect itself from heart disease and cancer – due to its protein hydrolysates that increase the antioxidants, which destroy free radicals that cause disease. It diminishes the likelihood of cancer with high levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) secretion. It also has a high content of folic acid which ensures healthy infants when pregnant women include it in their diet and lessens the risk of diabetes.
Wheat germ contains gluten and should be avoided for those on a gluten-free diet. It is a high calorie food that must be compensated for those on a weight control diet.