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Vegetarian Food Pyramid - Wheat Germ

Posted May 14 2009 4:32pm




Of all the grains that I have been talking about in my previous editions of the Vegetarian Pyramid series, I consider Wheat to be one of the pivotal ones. The amount of wheat that I consume is a standing joke in my family. Chapathi this, wheat bread that and only god knows what else. That being said, the next few editions are going to be solely about wheat and wheat products - yeah, they are quite a handful in number. The various by products come from the main grain wheat - which comprises of three parts - bran, germ and endosperm. Each one has a substantial role in providing nutrition. In short, wheat as a whole is one of the nutritious wholegrain. Let me start off with one of my all time favorites of wheat products. The number of recipes in my blog which have wheat germ is quite a large number where I find ways and means to incorporate them in my day to day food.

Image courtesy:Wikipedia

What is Wheat Germ
Wheat germ is the nutritious seed from which the wheat plant grows. Hence, it is needless to say that it forms the nutritious heart of whole wheat berry. Why the term "Germ" then you might ask? Don’t worry, it has nothing to with any creepy crawlies from the mud - the term here actually denotes to "Germination" since it is the reproductive part from which the wheat grass grows. The wheat germ has only small real estate in the whole of the kernel - only about 2-1/2 percent.

How to use it in cooking?
Using wheat germ in cooking is a like dream. From normal roti's (flatbreads) to almost everything in baking, they are the easiest ingredients to work with. Their taste often goes undetected in your baked goods. Its that mild. Next time you plan to make your own bread, cookies etc, just substitute about 1/2 cup of the required flour with wheat germ. Or use it as a topping for your baked goods. They can also be used in normal day to day vegetables, meat or yogurt Because wheat germ tends to absorb moisture, you may want to add one to two tablespoons of water for every one-quarter cup of wheat germ you add to a recipe esp. if its baked goods.

Here is a sample recipe to work with.
This Wheat germ and molasses bread is one of my absolute favorites. In this recipe I have used wheat germ extensively and it works immensely well with molasses. Its moist yet firm in a delicious way. This bread keeps very well and is a blessing for those evenings when snack attacks are likely to happen :)


How to buy and store
Wheat germ is available both toasted and untoasted. My personal choice is to buy untoasted and if I really require it to toast some when needed. There is really not much of a difference to me personally between them in taste. They can be bought in health stores although I find them often enough in my regular supermarkets too.

Since it is brimming with unsaturated fat content, it is inevitable that wheat germ will go rancid pretty fast if you store it at room temperature. Once you have removed the seal, make sure to store it in a air tight container in your fridge.

Health benefits
This section is probably going to be much bigger than rest of them put together. Yes - that’s the health factor in wheat germ for you :) To make it easier, let me place them in points.

  1. It is immensely rich in protein. It contains about 28 percent protein and supposedly has more than most meat based products.
  2. It contains more potassium and iron than any other food source
  3. It is an excellent source of important B vitamins, such as folic acid, thiamin, vitamin B6
    and minerals like magnesium, manganese, and zinc
  4. It contains a phytonutrient called L-ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant that is not destroyed by cooking.
  5. It has fiber that will put even most of the other "fiber rich" foods to shame.
  6. Some research show that the oil from wheat germ gives strength and longevity.
  7. It helps to fights colon cancer
  8. It can prevent constipation and it can improver digestion.
  9. In addition it protects us from heart disease and can help stop strokes
  10. It contains a substance called as Octasanol which :
    a) Helps to fight against muscular disorders such as muscular dystrophy and neuro- muscular problems.
    b) Boon to people suffering from cholesterol since it helps to lower the same.
    c) Improve muscular energy
    d) Improves reflexes
    e) Improves the utilization of oxygen during exercise.
    f) Helps the body to cope with stress.


With so many factors, are you still going to ignore that wheat germ packet the next time you cross that aisle? :)

This post was written by Dhivya


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