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What is Wheat Germ?

By Garry Crystal
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Wheat germ is an edible section of the wheat kernel. People value it highly for its rich nutritional content. Typically removed during wheat processing to prevent rancidity, it is easy to add to a person’s daily diet. This food stays fresher in the refrigerator and is available from both supermarkets and health food stores.

Definition and Description

Wheat germ is the reproductive part of the wheat kernel that germinates and forms the wheat grass. The germ accounts for a very small amount of the kernel, approximately 2.5 percent. The appearance is golden brown and flakey.

Nutritional Content

From the nutritional perspective, this food is a powerhouse. It contains 23 nutrients and has more of them per ounce than any other vegetable or grain. It is a better source of potassium and iron than any other food source and also has great quantities of riboflavin, calcium, zinc, magnesium and Vitamins A, E, B1 and B3. The amount of protein, 28 percent, is higher than the levels found in most meat products.

Nutritional Value and Health Roles

The potassium and magnesium in wheat germ play roles in maintaining proper heartbeat, blood pressure and nerve and muscle function. Riboflavin, which has some antioxidant properties that protect cells against free radical damage, helps the body process amino acids and fats. It is important for energy, because it is involved in converting carbohydrates into simpler sugars the body can use. Calcium is needed for strong bones, while zinc supports cell growth, the immune system and healthy hair, skin and nails.

Looking at the vitamins, Vitamin A is best known for keeping the retina of the eye healthy. It also aids the development of skin and skeletal tissues. Vitamin E is an antioxidant connected to a strong immune system, prevention of blood clots and heart disease and fighting aging. Vitamins B1 and B3 maintain energy levels and keep muscles, organs hair and skin healthy.

Professional athletes have found that this food is beneficial to general performance because it helps prevent nutritional deficiencies. Body builders like it because the high levels of protein help repair muscle damage. Some believe it boosts cardiovascular function and endurance.


Manufacturers remove wheat germ during general wheat kernel processing. They do this because it contains oils that will go rancid in wheat products over time. The technique also removes the precious nutrients and vitamins, however, making the products from the resulting white flour less healthy and more likely to cause blood sugar spikes. This is why some nutritionists recommend whole wheat flour products over items made with white flour. To try to compensate for this problem, manufacturers enrich virtually all wheat flour products.

Common Use in Diet

People have several options for incorporating wheat germ into their diet. Some individuals enjoy using it as a substitute for granola in yogurt, while others use it in place of bread crumbs. It can work well in smoothies and milkshakes, although it adds a bit of a nutty flavor. Another way to use it is in baking, replacing it for ¼ to ½ flour in recipes. People who have a sensitivity to gluten sometimes turn to wheat germ recipes because its gluten content is fairly low.

The caloric content is high at 101 calories per ounce (28 grams). This means it might not be the best choice for those on a calorie-restricted diet. On the other hand, the nutritional value shouldn’t be ignored and might warrant the occasional use. In particular, the protein helps people feel full longer, slowing digestion. That might prevent people from eating more and consuming more calories overall.


The oils in wheat germ mean that its shelf life is not particularly high. Once a package is opened, a person needs to use the product relatively quickly. To extend the amount of time that it stays good, experts recommend refrigerator storage.

Where to Buy It

Many supermarkets carry wheat germ, often in their organic or natural foods sections. If a person can’t find it in his general supermarket, the majority of health stores supply it. The product is available either fresh or toasted.

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Discussion Comments

By anon954447 — On Jun 01, 2014

I love the wheat germ bar so much. I brought it with me for the trip to Yellowstone.

By anon318622 — On Feb 08, 2013

I use a teaspoon every morning in my oatmeal.

By anon273269 — On Jun 05, 2012

Look up wheat germ agglutinin. It will make you think twice about eating wheat germ!

By anon271071 — On May 24, 2012

I grew up eating wheat germ as a topping on ice cream. The toasted wheat germ container doesn't even suggest this and I never considered using it on anything else, until now. My kids love wheat germ on their ice cream if you are looking for a way to add it to your diet.

Is there a better, more nutritious form, than the toasted wheat germ commonly found in stores?

By anon254978 — On Mar 15, 2012

Wheat germ or whole wheat grain is very beneficial nutritionally. Whole wheat has a lot of fiber and helps aid in bowel movements, while wheat germ (which is the membrane of the wheat grain) is the flour substance you get when you grind wheat into powdered form is very beneficial also. It is very good for the facial skin when mixed with honey and olive oil and applied to the skin.

By anon240417 — On Jan 13, 2012

I am 87 years young, a yoga enthusiast, walk briskly daily for one hour. I am from India. I had a massive heart attack 20 months back. After a complete recovery, I attempted to walk, but could not move forward even 10 steps forward. On a friend's advice, I started taking daily wheat germ two tablespoons in non fat milk twice a day. I am now back to normal, started walking as usual. Hats off to wheat germ.

By anon213493 — On Sep 11, 2011

Thanks. All of these contributions have been so keenly interesting. With concern about the likely deficiency of B vitamins for a male friend who suffered a heart attack, I have recently found a site that has an article "Gluten Intolerance Involves B Vitamin Deficiencies." Bar none, it is most illuminating about the reasons for gluten and lactose intolerance, the relationship of B vitamins to these problems, how our adrenal glands require a continual replenishment of the B's for best function and how chronic stress (physical/mental/emotional) can put a huge strain on the body when there is inadequate supply of B vitamins. I have long known how the B's were important for a healthy nervous system and to provide sufficient energy, but to learn how even a minute amount of Thiamine (B1) is physiologically critical for the heart (to avoid deleterious effects of Beriberi).

I will be buying the highest quality of wheat germ for my friend (and myself) that I can find. Thanks again everyone, for a great forum.

By anon206849 — On Aug 18, 2011

anon8910: You should let us make our own minds up. What is it?

By anon164179 — On Mar 30, 2011

I just found out that a wheat kernel is 83 percent endosperm, 14 percent bran, and 3 percent germ. Whole wheat has it all, and white flour is just the endosperm.

Therefore to keep proportions correct, you should add 2 teaspoons of wheat germ to every one cup of white flour you use in baking.

That will give you most of the goodness of whole wheat without all the extra fiber from the bran. (Some people don't do well with too much fiber).

By anon163257 — On Mar 27, 2011

you can use wheat germ instead of bread crumbs?

By anon149725 — On Feb 05, 2011

This stuff is so great. I add it in lots of recipes to up the fiber. Good if you're doing healthy eating in food tech at school like me.

By anon148973 — On Feb 03, 2011

all I can say. Is anything that is good does not last in the market, because it's all meant for profit and not for the well being of anyone!

By anon135915 — On Dec 20, 2010

I've gained muscle from mixing it with drinks.

By anon132146 — On Dec 05, 2010

does wheat germ let the body lose weight?

By anon107383 — On Aug 30, 2010

I'd like know if wheatgerm is present in bulgur wheat or cracked wheat. If yes does cooking destroy its nutritional properties?

By cmusich — On Aug 24, 2010

My husband and I recently picked some up because of the high magnesium and iron content. We add it and flax granola to vanilla yogurt. Yum! We are trying to conceive. Is wheat germ a boost for the woman's reproductive system, as well? I saw that it is good for the sperm health (though it does not make the count higher.)

By anon89263 — On Jun 09, 2010

how much protein does 25 grams of wheatgerm have?

By anon81240 — On Apr 30, 2010

farz - thanks for all information. A couple of years ago, I bought a soap, containing "wheat germ" in a pharmacy in Le Mans, France.

It was a miracle for my face skin. Now my brother in Le Mans tries to find it, but he can't find it. I think it's discontinued. Does any one know where to buy soap containing wheat germ?

By anon80948 — On Apr 29, 2010

I have read in 'truth exposing' health publications that the usual wheat germ that is sitting on the grocers shelf is already rancid, and pretty much useless. Your thoughts?

By anon78522 — On Apr 19, 2010

anon68324 and Helen- Wheatgerm does indeed have some gluten it it. If you have celiac disease, do not take wheat germ.

By anon75037 — On Apr 05, 2010

what about the solubility of wheat germ in water or milk?

By anon73201 — On Mar 26, 2010

where can I get the wheat germ in Bhopal (m.p)India.

By anon68324 — On Mar 02, 2010

Helen: wheat germ does not contain gluten.

By anon58432 — On Jan 01, 2010

wheat germ is good for people with muscle disease. take about a teaspoon a day.

By anon56648 — On Dec 16, 2009

Wheat germ is good most likely for everything. It can lower your bad cholesterol and raise your good one. F. Louiny

By anon54110 — On Nov 27, 2009

Can anyone tell me who supplies wheat germ in quantity.

By anon52462 — On Nov 14, 2009

Has anyone heard of the wheat containing estrogen in it? There are products that contain this female hormone product which can be bad on young girls and boys. Ex: Girls: it can make an underage girl have a early menstrual cycle, develop physically, facial hairs etc. Boys : It interferes with there becoming a man, the way they act, female ways can come about with long term use of wheat products that have estrogen in it, and a whole host of things. This it not good! Watch it!

By anon50489 — On Oct 29, 2009

which cereals have wheat germ?

By anon48959 — On Oct 16, 2009

i am a type 2 diabetic. would adding wheat germ to white flour make it good for baking my own bread, like say stone ground whole wheat, or the making of my own flour tortillas?

By anon48786 — On Oct 15, 2009

I need information about malting of wheat. Please can you help me on that?

By anon44872 — On Sep 11, 2009

Zinc in wheat germ is important for semen production. ZMA is a supplment of Zinc/Magnesium/Vit B6 and it's supposed to be taken on an empty stomach and before bed. I believe wheat germ will also do the trick. Only thing to note: don't take it with calcium foods such as milk, as calcium prohibits zinc absorption.

By anon43554 — On Aug 30, 2009

Wheat germ oil repairs sun damage. Also does wonders for your wrinkles.

By anon39216 — On Jul 31, 2009

I add it to my protein shakes/smoothies, like to do half wheat germ half whey protein powder.

By anon37536 — On Jul 20, 2009

I am starting an "Eat Clean diet" and it talks about wheat germ (and other good things), the recipes tell how much to put in, but I can't find where it says how much you should consume each day or how often. It does with the protein powder on the can, but not on the wheat germ bottle. thanks PL

By anon34679 — On Jun 26, 2009

Daily taken in the morning or night?

By anon33871 — On Jun 13, 2009

For 4616

Wheat germs are extracted on each grain mill but because the fat is removed from white flour to vitafeed for animal. Fat has impact on expiration date. Wheat germs are on whole flour.

By eatright — On May 06, 2009

Wheat germ is where the wheat protein or gluten is stored.

By anon29950 — On Apr 11, 2009

Storing wheat germ at 39*F(4*C)for more than six months will lose 10% of its vitamin E content. It is safe to use.

By anon25724 — On Feb 02, 2009

Is it necessary to purchase Wheat germ which has been refrigerated? And how should it be stored after opening the package?

By anon22661 — On Dec 08, 2008

If a person has gluten intolerance, would they be unable to eat wheat germ?

By anon19957 — On Oct 22, 2008

anon19786 you can extract dna from wheat germ by blending the tissue to disrupt cell walls and centrifuging at about 6000g. this will pull the cell walls and the nuclei into a pellet. the pellet can be resuspended and then precipitated using either the phenol technique or the sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and NaCl technique.

By anon19786 — On Oct 19, 2008

a friend and I are going to do a school project on how to extract DNA from wheat germ..

any tips? We tried going to the library and the only place we found the phrase "wheat germ" in was the encyclopedia and that only gave us the basic definition. do you know how we could find more information?

By anon16110 — On Jul 29, 2008

This is a response to anon14102. There is a way to combat type 2 diabetes. Simply put, correct diet and adequate exercise can reverse the onset of diabetes. Do research on carbohydrates and the glycemic load of the foods you consume daily. Since you have type 2 already, this means that your pancreas is in trouble. You need to give it a break from producing the hormone, insulin. You can do this through your diet.

Definitely continue taking your doctor prescribed medication. Along with your medication, try switching to a diet which is void of carbohydrates except those supplied from vegetables and limited fruits. This can work wonders for someone with type 2 diabetes, especially if supplemented with exercise. Cut out all bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, and other processed foods from your diet and add in lots of vegetables and see if this helps. I hope it does.

By anon15489 — On Jul 13, 2008

anon14102, i'm a medical doctor in the US. as far as i know, wheat germ will not interact with any diabetes medicines. there is no medical cure for diabetes type 2, just medications to help control the symptoms. there is a lifestyle cure: dramatic weight loss, a healthy diet, and plenty of exercise for the rest of your life. it's hard to do, and very few people are able to pull it off, but those that do won't need to take any pills.

i've never heard of NONI juice. i don't know if it helps. it's unlikely to be a cure...if there was a cure for diabetes already available, some money-hungry pharmaceutical company would've figured it out and be marketing it already.

By almoska — On Jun 11, 2008

Yes their is a natural cure for diabetes. It is called NONI juice. some health food store carry it. Or you can search for it on Google. There are many who sell it. Tahition noni is way too expensive. What I suggest is use your blender and make some blueberry juice. Sweeten it with honey if necessary. Mix it with your Noni juice. drink as much as you can. You health is worth every penny.

By anon14102 — On Jun 10, 2008

I love the wheat germ and think that it packs a punch when it comes to the very needed vitamin and minerals we all need. My question is, will taking wheat germ interact with certain types of medications? I have type 2 diabetes and take pills twice a day, will eating wheat product or wheat germ interact with my medication? I do know that since being diagnosed with High Cholesterol back in the late 90's, and eating wheat germ and other wheat products as well avocados my cholesterol has dropped dramatically. So I know that it's good for your health. I also know changing my diet and becoming less of an couch potato and being more active physically helped. But is there any known cure for diabetes? If so; anyone, please inform me.

By anon12927 — On May 16, 2008

to anon9436

perhaps those percentages refer to US RDA ? not cumulative mass of product.

By anon11445 — On Apr 16, 2008

Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) has actions very similar to insulin in promoting cell division and increasing cellular glucose transport. In the ileum it causes changes similar to Celiac disease – but without generating anti-gliadin antibodies – i.e. no Celiac diagnosis and no confirmation biopsy. It also appears to damage the brush border of the intestine, where lactase is produced. There may be many people out there diagnosed with lactose intolerance simply because their lactase has been knocked out by WGA. If I were lactose intolerant I’d cut out wheat for a few weeks then challenge with dairy to see if it is true lactose intolerance. These things are never simple.

By anon9436 — On Mar 06, 2008

"Kretschmer Wheat germ contains

Vitamin E 20%

Thiamin 10%

Folic Acid 20%

Phosphorous 10%

Magnesium 8%

Zinc 10%"

78% trace elements? Yer pullin' me leg.

By anon8910 — On Feb 24, 2008

To one of the above questions, NO wheat germ does not increase the amount of semen volume. I tried it and so I can tell you from my own personal experience that it will not increase volume. If you still don't believe me wheat germ is inexpensive and healthy so you can try for yourself (and it won't do you any harm).

There is only one product that I know that can dependably increase sperm volume but unfortunately it makes you blind (long term blindness) so I am not even going to name what it is here (because I do not think it is healthy for people to take it).

By anon8545 — On Feb 15, 2008

It's easy to sneak it into muffins. Just made some. It gives muffins a certain crunchiness that's pleasant.

By anon8127 — On Feb 08, 2008

Easy way to sneak it into your kid's foods: add it to a peanut butter sandwich. if they are used to crunchy peanut butter, they probably won't notice it. Or make bread and add it into the recipe.

My mom gave me peanut butter & honey & wheat germ sandwiches when I was little and called them "pooh bear sandwiches". I thought it was cool because it was called "pooh bear", and she was happy because I got the extra nutrients. A win-win!

By anon7675 — On Jan 31, 2008

I have heard that wheat germ also increases the volume and thickness of semen. Is this true?

It's true .. Wheat germ has Zinc which is very important for Semen production. Also Vitamin E and Folic acid in it helps a lot. i highly recommend it. Good for the heart too!

Kretschmer Wheat germ contains

Vitamin E 20%

Thiamin 10%

Folic Acid 20%

Phosphorous 10%

Magnesium 8%

Zinc 10%

Allergic or not .. better try it out. One bottle of 11oz costs about $5.

Wheat germ has lot of fiber too. If you eat too-too much you will have loose motion.

No idea about Gluten. :(

By anon7529 — On Jan 28, 2008

Does wheat germ contain gluten?

By anon7089 — On Jan 17, 2008

I have heard that wheat germ also increases the volume and thickness of semen. Is this true?

By anon6649 — On Jan 05, 2008

Does wheat germ have gluten?...helen

By olittlewood — On Dec 28, 2007

what are some ways i can get this into my kids' food? they are pretty picky, and sneaking this into their food would probably up the healthy quotient on their meals! also, is wheat germ good if you need to get extra fiber in your diet?

By anon4616 — On Oct 25, 2007

I need information about production of Wheat Germ in industrial scale ....can you guide me...?

By anon650 — On May 01, 2007

I am allergic to wheat grass, does that mean I can not take wheat flour or wheat germ? are they the same thing?

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