Wheat germ is the reproductive part (embryo) of a grain of wheat that has not yet germinated. Wheat germ is rich in vitamins, minerals, unsaturated fatty acids, and protein. One disadvantage of the wheat germ you buy at the grocery store is that it is not usually raw, but has been heated.
Wheat germ has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. Please do not confuse wheat germ with sprouted wheat, wheat sprouts, or wheat bran. Wheat germ is made by separating the seeds’ germ from the endosperm and the bran and then crushing it, so the end product is much smaller than other types of grain flakes.
Note: whole wheat flour is not just wheat germ, but the other parts of the grain as well. Wheat germ oil should not be heated to high temperatures.
How best to eat wheat germ?
If you want to use dried wheat germ, it is best as a regular part of your morning bowl of muesli, or in soups and sauces. It is also tasty in smoothies and shakes. Simply sprinkle wheat germ on rice, potatoes, vegetables, or salads for a little extra flavor.
Eat wheat germ raw whenever possible since heating causes it to lose valuable nutrients. However, wheat germ is almost always produced at temperatures that are too high to call it a raw food. See the information below about drying temperatures.
Sprouted whole wheat flour for baking:
Sprouted whole wheat flour is made from wheat that has been allowed to germinate. It is then dried and ground and has a shelf life of at least 6 months. You can add up to 10 % wheat germ to your bread dough to give the finished bread a nutty flavor. Wheat germ can also be used for chocolate truffles and other snacks.
Vegan recipes with wheat germ:
Recipe for Vegan Banana Smoothie with Wheat Germ: Blend two bananas with half a liter of nondairy milk, such as hemp milk, almond milk, or oat milk, plus four tablespoons of wheat germ. Mix well. The result is a healthy, vegan banana drink. Serve chilled and add vanilla, star anise, or cinnamon to taste.
Recipe for Muesli with Wheat Germ: You can add wheat germ to almost any muesli by either sprinkling it on top or adding it while you make the muesli.
Vegan recipes with wheat germ can be found under the header: “Recipes that contain the largest amounts of this ingredient” (at the very bottom or on the side of the screen).
Purchasing — where to shop?
Raw wheat germ is not yet readily available at major distributors such as Walmart, Whole Foods Markets, Kroger, and Safeway (United States); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, and Holland & Barret (Great Britain); Metro, Extra Foods, and Goodness Me (Canada); and Coles, Woolworths, and Harris Farm (Australia). You should, however, be able to find it raw—or at least organic—at health food shops. Pay attention to whether it is a natural product or enriched with other ingredients such as vitamins and minerals. You should consider your wheat germ’s provenance (place of origin) when you buy it because this can affect its selenium and iodine content, and these are two minerals that are often lacking in our diets, especially in Central Europe.
Wheat germ is generally available at well-stocked supermarkets, health food stores, and on the Internet. You can often choose from a range of grinds, from a fine powder up to granules. When you shop, pay attention to whether or not you are buying organic. Organic wheat germ is free of pesticides and genetic engineering, and the organic cultivars seem a little closer to the earliest wheat cultivars than conventional wheat varieties.
Is there award-winning wheat germ? Wheat germ, wheat bran, and sprouted wheat flour are fiercely contested products. What is most important is finding organic, raw wheat germ; the price will help indicate the quality.
As a result of its high unsaturated fatty acid content, wheat germ does not keep for very long in the pantry. You can also buy what is known as partially defatted wheat germ to avoid this, but even then the germ’s fats are only partially removed, and important nutrients are also lost. However, this method of removing some of the fat and subsequently drying wheat germ can extend its shelf life to one year.
Storage tip: Wheat bran and wheat germ should be stored in the refrigerator so that they do not go rancid as quickly, especially if they are organic or raw.
Nutrients — nutritional information — calories:
The germ is the part of the wheat grain that is richest in vitamins and minerals. It is rich in B vitamins, particularly vitamin B1, folic acid (folate, vitamin B9, vitamin B11), and vitamin B6.1 According to naehrwertrechner.de, wheat germ contains 21'155 µg tocopherol, one of the fatty acids that make up vitamin E.
A scientific study from 2010 on bioactive substances in wheat germ produced the following results: a-linolenic acid 530 mg/100 g, reduced glutathione (approx. 10 %, GSH) 133 mg, oxidized glutathione (GSSG) 69 mg, thiamine 1.75 µg (0.8–2.7 µg vitamin B1), vitamin E 27.1 µg as tocopherol, flavonoids 300 mg, betaine 851 mg, choline 223 mg, myo-inositol 0.11 mg, and phytosterols 430 mg.7
If you are primarily interested in minerals and trace elements, you will find that wheat germ mainly provides manganese. Its 15 g covers the recommended daily amount. Wheat germ’s selenium content can be affected significantly by the soil in which the wheat is grown. Wheat germ’s zinc (10–18 mg) and phosphorus content are slightly above average, and it has noteworthy quantities of magnesium, potassium, and the unsaturated essential fatty acids linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). Wheat germ also contains large quantities of protein,1 which is valued for its high bioavailability.
Wheat germ for weight loss? While you might assume that wheat germ is not exactly ideal for losing weight, its high nutritional value and spermidine content can have anti-aging effects if you consume it regularly in small amounts. Health effects that pertain to life expectancy, detoxification, cellular autophagy, and cellular autophagocytosis are also often attributed to wheat germ.
According to Wikipedia (under wheat), wheat germ contains 8–12 % oil, which consists of over 60 % polyunsaturated fatty acids (unfortunately approx. up to 88 % from the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid). The vitamin E content in wheat germ oil is very high (between 200 and 300 mg/100 g). This vitamin E consists mainly of α-tocopherol. Wheat germ oil has poor oxidative stability.2
We can give the all-clear for wheat germ and wheat germ oil as the ratio of LA:ALA is 7:1 for wheat germ and 8:1 for wheat germ oil, which is more or less within the desirable range, and you don’t eat much of it. Wikipedia is wrong about this particular topic.
EE: People who follow a Western diet consume a very unhealthy ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids. Humans originally only ate these fatty acids in ratios of 1:1 to 2:1. Today, people still try to argue that a ratio of 5:1 is healthy because vegetarians, in particular, get up to a ratio of 17:1. This means that they can potentially consume 17 times more inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids (LA) and very little ALA, which is the omega-3 fatty acid used as a precursor for producing EPA and DHA.
Select CLICK FOR under the photo of the ingredient to see the nutrient tables. These tables provide complete nutritional information, the percentage of the recommended allowance, and comparison values with other ingredients.
How much wheat germ should you eat each day?
More is not necessarily better. Wheat germ, like bran, is a waste product from flour production, and therefore, of course, very well advertised. As explained above, wheat germ contains healthy nutrients that should not be heated, so it’s best if you sprinkle them over food after it has been prepared. One tablespoon corresponds to about 10 g. Five tablespoons, or 50 g, would certainly be the upper limit if you eat wheat germ daily. Wheat germ manufacturers and retailers state the following.
We recommend using only 5 to 10 g/day as the optimal amount for people who consume wheat germ daily. Be sure to choose an organic product and to take a break for a day or two every now and then. You should be paying attention to your bowel health in the long term so that it will be easy to figure out what the causes might be if you develop irritable bowel syndrome. IBS is characterized by alternating bouts of gas, constipation, and diarrhea. When we get too much fiber over a long period of time, for example, the amounts recommended by the German Nutrition Society (DGE) (30 g/day), the ileocecal valve between your small and large intestines can stop closing properly, which can result in permanent inflammation.
Health aspects — benefits:
Is wheat germ healthy? Wheat germ is often sold as a superfood, but many natural foods could be called superfoods. But how healthy is wheat germ? The B vitamins in wheat germ can help with nervous system disorders such as fatigue, depression, stress, or anxiety. Wheat germ can be beneficial for people who suffer from elevated blood lipid levels and coronary artery disease. The vitamins can also lower blood sugar and thus help with diabetes. Wheat germ is ideal for people with increased nutritional needs such as athletes, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and even students who are stressed about exams.3
The vitamins in wheat germ can also benefit your skin, hair, and nails.
According to the Wikipedia article about spermidine,4 spermidine (mono amimopropyl putrescine) is a polyamine compound that is found in ribosomes and living tissues, where it synchronizes an array of biological processes. It is a biogenic polyamine that is an intermediary product for the formation of sperm from putrescine and S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase. The Free University of Berlin published a press release on August 30, 2013, stating that researchers found that administering the natural substance spermidine stops dementia. The age-related decline in the ability to remember can be stopped by administering spermidine. This is the result of a study conducted by Dr. Stephan Sigrist from the Free University of Berlin and the Neurocure Cluster of Excellence and Prof. Dr. Frank Madeo from the University of Graz. The two biologists were able to show that the body’s own spermidine triggers a cellular cleaning process that increased memory performance in the brains of older fruit flies to a level that is consistent with younger fruit flies. Macrobiological animals like flies and mice have memory processes that are similar to human memory processes at the molecular level. Sigrist and Madeo’s research could contribute to developing treatments that delay the onset of dementia. The online version of the study was published in advance of the print version in the renowned journal Nature Neuroscience.
Clinicians published another interesting study in August 2018. They followed people between the ages of 45 and 84 for 20 years, and discovered that those with a regular spermidine intake lived 5 to 7 years longer (mortality rate).
How much wheat germ should I eat in a day? Spermidine is well tolerated at a dose of 1.2 mg/day, which you can get from the 5 g of wheat germ found in Erb Muesli, which is extremely healthy in other regards as well. If you decide to add wheat germ, however, the muesli is no longer a gluten-free and raw food since wheat germ is usually heated rather than raw.
Whole grains such as wheat germ (24.3 mg/100 g) have the highest spermidine content. Dried soybeans have the second-highest spermidine content (20.7 mg/100 g), followed by mushrooms (8.9), rice bran (5), green peas (4.6), mango (3), chickpeas (2.9), cauliflower (2.5), and broccoli (2.5).4
Dangers — intolerances — side effects:
Be careful not to consume too much wheat! More and more people are gluten-sensitive and cannot tolerate wheat proteins and gluten.
If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, you should avoid organic fresh and organic dry yeast for safety reasons since yeast is sometimes grown in wheat and wheat germ. This means that the yeast itself could trigger your allergies.
Does wheat germ contain gluten, or is wheat germ gluten-free? Gluten is a protein that is found both in wheat and in many other grains. It can also be found in wheat germ. Gluten intolerance, which causes autoimmune reactions such as celiac disease, is mainly caused by gliadins (a type of prolamin), one of the two main components of gluten.
Wheat germ side-effects: Wheat is a particularly problematic source of gluten since humans have been cultivating and modifying the wheat genome via selective breeding for a long time. This cultivation process has largely focused on breeding wheat that is easier to bake. In addition, persistent cultivation efforts have focused on increasing the plant’s resistance to diseases on increasing yields many times over.
As a result, wheat’s gluten content has increased, and both the gluten structure and some of the enzymes in this hybridized wheat have changed. In one experiment, 14 new gluten proteins that had not been present in a wheat crop’s first generation appeared in the plants’ offspring.5
It should therefore come as no surprise that modern wheat, which contains significantly more genes for gluten proteins than its ancient grain varieties, such as einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum) and emmer (Triticum dicoccum), has led to increased gluten sensitivity in modern populations. Gluten sensitivity is another reason why Erb Muesli calls for seeds instead of grains.
Since wheat germ contains many substances that contribute to the formation of uric acid, people who suffer from gout should avoid consuming it in high quantities. Furthermore, wheat germ can contain lectins, such as agglutinin, which are sometimes considered antinutrients. There has not been sufficient research into potential reactions between antinutrients and other types of glycoproteins and glycolipids that are important immunologically. Lectin is also found in much smaller quantities in tomatoes and potatoes. This lectin, unlike the lectin in legumes, is heat-stable.
But does wheat lectin make us sick or does it hurt us? Whether something is harmful or helpful is always a question of quantity and genetic disposition, age, and other such factors. Every food always has positive and negative effects, and some foods can also have side effects that depend on how much you eat.
Tests have shown that wheat lectin can seriously damage the intestinal lining of rodents when they are fed wheat in excessively large quantities. Too much lectin can lead to headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach and intestinal problems that will go away after a few hours. Since we lack proteolytic enzymes to break down wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), it is feared that regular consumption of wheat germ can have a lasting effect on a person’s pancreatic and immunological functions.8
The way lectins react with the surface of the red blood cells (Gruber-Durham reaction) and agglutinate varies according to blood group. In the late 1990s, Peter J. D’Adamo developed something called a blood group diet based on his research. Counterstudies have found no evidence of alleged health benefits of this diet.
Studies show that the lectins in wheat germ are an important cause of intestinal diseases, intestinal damage such as Crohn’s disease, and even rheumatoid arthritis.6
Cultivation — the origins of wheat:
Wheat originated as einkorn wheat and emmer, both of which came from the Near East (Fertile Crescent). In the eleventh century, eating white bread became widespread, and wheat (Triticum L.) became more important. The seeds that produce today’s wheat are the result of crossbreeding several types of grain and wild grasses.
More recently, genetically modified wheat varieties have also been approved for human consumption, especially in the United States. Because genetic modification is more prevalent in some countries than others, it is important to pay attention to where your wheat comes from, if you are going to eat wheat. In 2004, Monsanto produced a type of transgenic wheat that is resistant to glyphosate. Cross-contamination problems are increasing where transgenic wheat is planted since transgenes from genetically modified wheat have begun to cross over into related grass species.
The world's largest producers of wheat are China, India, Russia, and North America.
A wheat kernel (wheat berry) consists of the endosperm (about 80 % of its weight), the bran (husk), and the germ inside an outer shell that is indigestible and therefore separated from the kernel.
See also wheat bran and the ingredients listed there for comparison. What is the difference between wheat bran and oat bran? According to the German Federal Centre for Nutrition (BZFE), oat and wheat bran differ in their total fiber content and in the proportions of different types of fiber. Wheat bran contains 45–54 % fiber, and oat bran contains 20–24 %. Wheat bran has higher levels of cellulose (10–20 vs. 4–6 %), hemicellulose (20–28 vs. 6–8 %), and lignins (6–8 vs. 1 %). Oat bran contains more beta-glucans (8 % in oats, 2–3 % in wheat). In short, if you want to improve your cholesterol metabolism, it is better to do it with oat bran, but if you want to improve digestion, use wheat bran — always with enough water to cause it to swell.
The germ only comprises a tiny part (2.5 %) of a ripe wheat kernel. It contains a fertile seedling, without which no new wheat could grow. Wheat germ lectin (WGA) is also written like this: GlcNAc-β1-4-GlcNAc-β1-4-GlcNAc or 5-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac). One test showed that WGA is extremely toxic to plant pests.
Both the germ and bran are separated from the endosperm in the industrial production of white wheat flour, which has little nutritional value and few vitamins. There is therefore no wheat germ in all-purpose flour, bread flour, cake flour, pastry flour, or self-rising flour.
Since wheat germ contains a significant amount of oil, whole wheat flour has a shorter shelf life because the entire grain including the oily germ is ground into the flour. The oily germ makes the flour turn rancid faster. Wheat germ is processed into wheat germ oil. Wheat germ extract is also available. This extract is advertised for its ability to strengthen brain cells and mental balance and to prevent oxidative stress. But these benefits are also the result of choosing any kind of natural, healthy approach to eating.
Wheat germ is produced by separating out the germ from the bran. Producers can dry or heat wheat germ, but they do not roast it. Whether or not wheat germ is still considered raw depends largely on the processing methods and drying temperatures used. Wheat germ is usually heated at high temperatures so that it can be stored for a long time without becoming susceptible to butyric acid fermentation (the process that makes wheat germ rancid).
There is also a difference between wheat germ and sprouted wheat. The latter refers to the whole grain at the point of germination. Sprouted wheat is also called wheat sprouts or wheatgrass, depending on how long the wheat berries are allowed to germinate.
Literature — sources:
Many researchers do not believe that Wikipedia is an authoritative source. One reason for this is that the information about literature cited and authors is often missing or unreliable. Our pictograms for nutritional values provide also information on calories (kcal).
USDA United States Department of Agriculture.
Roger JDP. Heilkräfte der Natur. Ein Praxishandbuch. Zürich: Steinmeier GmbH. 2006. 296.
Dr. med. William Davis, Weizenwampe. Warum Weizen dick und krank macht (Buch). Goldmann Verlag. 2013.
Cordain L et al. Modulation of immune function by dietary lectins in rheumatoid arthritis. British Journal of Nutrition 2000;83:207-217.
Fardet A. New hypotheses for the health-protective mechanisms of whole-grain cereals: what is beyond fibre? Nutrition Research Reviews 2010;23:65–134.
Pusztai A, Ewen SW, Grant G, Brown DS, Stewart JC, Peumans WJ, u. a. Antinutritive effects of wheat-germ agglutinin and other N-acetylglucosamine-specific lectins. Br J Nutr. Juli 1993; 70(1): 313–21