The germ of a cereal is the reproductive part that germinates to grow into a plant;[1] it is the embryo[2] of the seed. Along with bran, germ is often a by-product of the milling[3] that produces refined grain products. Cereal grains and their components, such as wheat germ,[4] rice bran, and maize[5] may be used as a source from which vegetable oil is extracted, or used directly as a food ingredient. The germ is retained as an integral part of whole-grain foods.[6] Non-whole grain methods of milling are intended to isolate the endosperm, which is ground into flour, with removal of both the husk (bran) and the germ. Removal of bran is aimed at producing a flour with a white rather than a brown color, and eliminating fiber: neither of these objectives is necessarily desirable from the nutritional viewpoint. Germ is rich in polyunsaturated fats (which have a tendency to oxidize and become rancid on storage) and so germ removal improves the storage qualities of flour.[7]

Wheat germ

Wheat germ or wheatgerm is a concentrated source of several essential nutrients including Vitamin E, folate (folic acid), phosphorus, thiamin, zinc and magnesium, as well as essential fatty acids and fatty alcohols.[8][9] It is a good source of fiber.[10] White bread is made using flour that has had the germ and bran removed.[11] Wheat germ can be added to protein shakes, casseroles, muffins, pancakes, cereals, yogurt, smoothies, cookies, and other goods.[12] Wheat germ can become rancid if not properly stored in a refrigerator or freezer,[13] and away from sunlight.[14] Some manufacturers prevent rancidity by storing wheat germ in vacuum sealed glass containers.

Other uses

In molecular biology, wheat germ extract is used to carry out in vitro translation experiments, as the plant embryo contains all the macromolecular components necessary for translating mRNA into amino acids, but contains relatively low levels of its own mRNA.[15]

Wheat germ is also useful in biochemistry, as it contains lectins that bind strongly to certain glycoproteins, hence it can be used to isolate such proteins.

Wheat germ, toasted, plain
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,598 kJ (382 kcal)
Carbohydrates 51.8 g
- Sugars 7.8 g
- Dietary fiber 15.1 g
Fat 10.7 g
- saturated 1.83 g
- monounsaturated 1.5 g
- polyunsaturated 6.62 g
Protein 29.1 g
Thiamine (vit. B1) 1.67 mg (145%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.82 mg (68%)
Niacin (vit. B3) 5.59 mg (37%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 1.387 mg (28%)
Vitamin B6 0.978 mg (75%)
Folate (vit. B9) 352 μg (88%)
Vitamin C 6 mg (7%)
Vitamin E 15.99 mg (107%)
Calcium 45 mg (5%)
Iron 9.09 mg (70%)
Magnesium 320 mg (90%)
Manganese 19.956 mg (950%)
Phosphorus 1146 mg (164%)
Potassium 947 mg (20%)
Zinc 16.67 mg (175%)
Percentages are roughly approximated
using USDA Nutrient Database

See also