Wheat Germ - Research
While wheat germ and its components are being studied in animals for cholesterol-lowering effects9 and the promotion of endurance,10 the only current human study on wheat germ extract is exploring its supportive potential in people undergoing cancer treatments.11
Wheat Germ is one of the few plant parts in nature in which the entire vitamin B-complex is found. It also contains fiber, vitamin E and octacosanol.2,4
Wheat is the staple food for many cultures worldwide. It is the main ingredient in many whole grain foods and is the most globally widespread carbohydrate crop.2 The wheat germ can be added to cereals, fruits and breads.4 It has a nutty flavor and is very oily, which causes it to spoil quickly.7 Therefore, the best way to incorporate wheat germ into the diet is to eat whole wheat grain or whole grain products. It is important to distinguish that refined wheat products do not contain the germ, only the endosperm, and are up to 70% less nutritional than whole grain wheat products.4
According to Ayurvedic medicine, wheat can be used to treat variable stress and mental problems and is good for improving musculature.2 Other healthy effects include nurturing the heart and calming or focusing the mind.2 Fiber contained in wheat is used as bulking agent to avoid constipation. Wheat germ oil, an extract of the germ, is used in cosmetics as an emollient and moisturizer.8
2 Wood R. The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York: Penguin Books; 1999.
4 Onstad D. Whole Foods Companion: a Guide for Adventurous Cooks, Curious Shoppers & Lovers of Natural Foods. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company; 1996.
7 Research & Impact: Areas of Research: Wheat. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. 2004-2005. Available at: http://www.cgiar.org/impact/research/wheat.html. Accessed November 15, 2005.
8 New and Improved Wheat Uses Audit. National Association of Wheat Growers. September 2002. Available at: http://www.wheatworld.org/pdf/NAWG%20New%20Improved%20Uses%20Report%20Final.pdf. Accessed November 15, 2005.
9 Kato S, Hasegawa S, Nagasawa J, et al. Octacosanol affects lipid metabolism in rats fed on a high-fat diet. Br J Nutr. 1995;73:433-441.
10 Kim H, Park S, Han D, et al. Octacosanol supplementation increases running endurance time and improves biochemical parameters after exhaustion in trained rats. J Med Food. Winter 2003; 6(4):345-351.
11 Farkas E. Fermented wheat germ extract in the supportive therapy of colorectal cancer (Hungary). Orv Hetil. September 11, 2005;146(37):1925-1931.