I was wondering if raw untoasted wheat germ is more nutritious than toasted wheat germ. They taste a little different — toasting brings out the nutty flavor — and health purists may prefer the raw untoasted wheat germ. But both supply protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
What is wheat germ?
Wheat germ is the embryo part of the wheat kernel or seed. It has all the vital nutrients needed to produce a sprout of wheat. If you soak a wheat kernel in water and keep it moist, a sprout will emerge at the germ. This “germ” has a high concentration of nutrients to support growth. That’s why it’s good for you. When wheat kernels are milled into flour, the wheat germ is easily separated from the other parts of the flour. In this form it’s called raw wheat germ. It is light-colored and flakey. When toasted, it becomes a golden brown color with a crunchy nutty flavor. Some people prefer the taste of the toasted wheatgerm.
Wheat germ — toasted and untoasted — has a high concentration of folic acid, which is a necessary nutrient for all pregnant women to prevent neural-tube defects. It also contains small amounts of B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. But don’t forget the protein and fiber in wheat germ. According to the USDA Nutrient Data Lab, the nutrients for toasted and untoasted wheat germ are about the same:4 tablespoons of toasted wheat germ provides approximately
- 108 calories
- 4 grams fiber
- 3 grams fat
- 8 grams protein
Add wheat germ to your favorite hot breakfast cereals. Mix a tablespoon or two into hot oatmeal, steel-cut oats, cream of wheat, or seven-grain cereal. Sprinkle toasted wheat germ on fresh steamed vegetables and raw salads. You can add raw wheat germ to recipes for muffins, cookies, quick breads and yeast breads. When baking, only add about 4 tablespoons to a recipe and add an extra tablespoon of water. Next time you make a smoothie, add a tablespoon of toasted or untoasted wheat germ. Try adding it to a homemade granola recipe or favorite pancake mix. Another way to get wheat germ into your diet is to add a few tablespoons to a cup of yogurt with fruit.
Take care when storing wheat germ because it has vital unsaturated fats that can become rancid. In fact, this is one of the reasons white flour has a long shelf-life — the wheat germ has been removed. Always check the expiration date when you purchase wheat germ and once opened, store it in the refrigerator for up to nine months. Use an air-tight glass jar, plastic bag or container with a good seal. The raw untoasted wheat germ can become rancid quicker than the toasted variety. It should not have a musty, rancid smell.