Wheat germ is an inner part of wheat, sometimes referred to as "the heart" of the wheat kernel, that's packed with essential nutrients and heart-healthy goodness. This nutritious food can be used in baked goods, casseroles, meat dishes, or in place of bread crumbs. Try sprinkling wheat germ on oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, or salads. Blend wheat germ into protein-rich smoothies with fruit, nut butter, and low-fat milk or soy milk. Or, use wheat germ oil in marinades.
A 2-tablespoon portion of wheat germ contains about 45 calories. The majority of the calories in wheat germ are from carbohydrates, including fiber and followed by protein, and dietary fat. While the fiber in wheat germ does provide calories, fiber calories aren't completely absorbed by your body.
Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat
Two tablespoons of wheat germ provide 5 grams of carbohydrates (including 2 grams of fiber), 3 grams of protein, and 1 gram of dietary fat. The majority of fat in wheat germ is polyunsaturated fat, including omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, notes the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Omega-3s are essential fatty acids your body needs daily, and are beneficial for brain and heart health. Wheat germ is also a source of omega-6 fatty acids.
Vitamins and Minerals
Wheat germ is nutrient-rich and loaded with vitamins and minerals. Such micronutrients include iron, zinc, potassium, and B vitamins. So, finding ways to incorporate wheat germ into your diet is an excellent way to meet your body's vitamin and mineral needs.
What about Wheat Germ Oil?
Wheat germ oil is also packed with nutrients, but differs nutritionally from regular wheat germ. Wheat germ oil provides 120 calories per tablespoon, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats -- which are also heart-healthy -- and vitamin E. Cleveland Clinic notes that wheat germ oil should be kept refrigerated, shouldn't be heated, and is best suited for use in dips, marinades, and dressings.
An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.