When you cut back on saturated fat, you almost certainly cut back on the amount of meat you eat. When this happens, you may also be cutting back on important nutrients, too. Filling the void, though, is fat-fighting wheat germ. It provides a bevy of minerals, including all-important iron and zinc.
Wheat germ, a health-food basic, is the embryo of the wheat kernel. It is one portion of the wheat kernel that is removed when it is processed into refined flour. Wheat germ certainly deserves its reputation for being a powerhouse of nutrients, as its profile strikingly illustrates.
Face it, wheat germ is a nutrition standout. It's one of the best sources of folic acid. That's good news, since it's recommended that all women of childbearing age get sufficient amounts of this nutrient to prevent neural-tube birth defects. Folic acid reduces a compound in your body called homocysteine. Lower levels of homocysteine have been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis bone fractures, and dementia.
Wheat germ also contains a phytonutrient called L-ergothioneine, which is a powerful antioxidant that is not destroyed by cooking. The fiber boost you get from wheat germ is phenomenal.
Selection and Storage
Because of its unsaturated fat content, wheat germ goes rancid easily, especially if it's raw. Fresh wheat germ should smell something like toasted nuts, not musty. Unopened, a sealed jar of wheat germ will keep about one year on the shelf. Always store opened wheat germ in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container, where it'll keep up to nine months.
Preparation and Serving Tips
Wheat germ makes a nutritious and often undetectable addition to a myriad of dishes, including breads, pancakes, waffles, cookies, cereals, and milk shakes. It's a lower-fat alternative to granola that can be added to yogurt and cereals. When adding wheat germ to baked goods or quick breads, you can replace one half to one cup of the flour with it. Because wheat germ tends to absorb moisture, you may want to add one to two tablespoons of water for every one-quarter cup of wheat germ you add to a recipe.
As you work on your weight-loss plan to cut back on fatty meat dishes, remember that wheat germ can provide you with those vitamins and minerals you may be missing, as well as give you fiber to satisfy your appetite.
©Publications International, Ltd.