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What Is Wheat Germ?

Why does the Mayo Clinic list wheat germ as one of the “10 health foods for eating well?” It’s simple: Gram for gram, wheat germ offers a significant dose of vitamins, minerals and protein.

Tiny in size, but a nutrient-rich powerhouse, wheat “germ” (short for germination) is the part of wheat that sprouts and grows into a new plant. Despite being the most vitamin- and mineral-rich part of the wheat kernel, it’s left out when wheat is processed into white flour. Yes, we think that’s a shame, too! Because not only is it good for you, it’s delicious, with a satisfying, nutty flavor and distinctive texture. Here is what the Mayo Clinic says about wheat germ: “Wheat germ adds a healthy crunch to virtually any recipe, from pancakes to fruit smoothies.”

At only 50 calories per 2-tablespoon serving, Kretschmer Wheat Germ delivers a protein-packed punch of vital nutrients, including:

  • Vitamin E: This fat-soluble antioxidant helps to protect cells and tissues from damage and may ward off certain diseases.
  • Folic Acid: A must-have for pregnant women—and a good idea for everyone else—this B vitamin helps make healthy new cells to protect against certain cancers.
  • Magnesium: This mineral helps keep your heart, bones and immune system strong. Recent data also suggests it may even slash your Type-2 diabetes risk.
  • Thiamin: This B vitamin helps convert carbohydrates into energy. It’s also essential for the proper functioning of the heart, muscles and nervous system.
  • Phosphorous: Working with calcium to build strong bones and teeth, this mineral is also necessary for the growth, maintenance and repair of all tissues.
  • Zinc: Your body uses this mineral for hundreds of functions, such as fighting off viruses, helping wounds heal, DNA synthesis and proper cell division.

BONUS: Wheat germ is also a fiber-rich source of high-quality non-animal protein and only contains heart-healthy polyunsaturated fat. Extra bonus: There’s no sodium.

Anatomy of a Wheat Grain

It’s true the best things come in small packages, especially when it comes to wheat. The wheat germ is a tiny little nugget nestled deep within the core of every grain of wheat, but it’s by far the most significant source of nutrition. Amaze your friends with your botanical knowledge of the amazing wheat grain and let them know that the “germ” is the best part.

Bran—wheat bran is the skin of the grain and has a firm, fibrous texture. Although very beneficial as a fiber source, bran is not used in ordinary refined flour. (P.S. Don’t worry, we’ve made space for it in our own product line.)

Endosperm— this larger section comprises about 83 percent of the grain and contains most of the wheat’s starch. That’s why it’s the true power in the flour.

Germ—this “good germ” is just 2.5 percent of the total grain and is the embryo or center of life for new wheat sprouts. Wheat germ is also removed during white flour refinement (although it is used in whole wheat flour). It takes over 50 pounds of wheat to make one pound of wheat germ.

We found this wheat germ illustration in the Kretschmer archives. It was featured in a folding recipe pamphlet, circa 1950. Want to see more Kretschmer visual history? Visit our Facebook timeline.