Wheat Germ and Wheat Bran
Wheat germ contains naturally occurring polyunsaturated fat. A two-tablespoon serving of original toasted wheat germ contains 50 calories and 1 gram of fat; a 1-2/3 tablespoon serving of honey crunch wheat germ contains 50 calories and 1 gram of fat.
It has long been known that the folic acid in wheat germ can help prevent birth defects - doctors often encourage pregnant women to add wheat germ to their diets for this very reason.
In addition to folic acid, wheat germ contains essential B vitamins. Therefore, further studies now show more benefits for everyone from wheat germ. B vitamins, especially B6, B12 and folic acid lower the level of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. Heightened levels of this substance have been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine from the results of extensive studies is evidence that high homocysteine levels also indicate a risk of developing Alzheimer's .
Although a bit tentative, this research does provide reason enough to include crunchy toasted wheat germ in your diet. Try sprinkling it on yogurt or on top of muffins and breads before baking.
Storing Wheat Germ
Because of its high oil content, improperly stored wheat germ can become rancid. So store it in sealed glass jars and keep it refrigerated. Find other, prepackaged wheat products in most natural foods and grocery stores; buy in bulk for maximum savings.
Wheat Germ Oil
There are no extra health benefits to wheat germ oil, as far as we know. But there is nothing in wheat germ oil that is likely to cause you any harm. In general, wheat germ oil contains fat, a white alcohol called octacosanol, and vitamin E as well as other vitamins and minerals.
In the 1960's, based on studies conducted in the US and Russia, wheat germ oil was touted as improving endurance, reaction times, stamina, and vigor. However, there has been considerable criticism about how these studies were conducted and the way the findings were interpreted. Also, the active ingredients that were supposed to cause the beneficial effects could not be identified. Some said it was the vitamin E; others pointed to the octacosanol as the source.
Eventually, the Federal Trade Commission analyzed many of the published studies and concluded that wheat germ oil did not have special fitness, athletic or health enhancing qualities. Advertisements saying wheat germ oil did have such attributes have since been banned.