The Low-Down On Wheat Germ
Nutrition & cooking tips with Nourished by Bri
Wheat germ – what exactly is it, how do you use it and what are the nutritional benefits? We sat down with registered dietitian Brianna Meghawache to get the scoop.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself!
A: My name is Brianna, but I often go by Bri as I have developed a nutrition coaching business called Nourished by Bri. I work as a registered dietitian out of a hospital, a few clinics, and out of my home office. I quite enjoy hosting dinner parties and creating new recipes, that I humbly admit, my husband, the true chef of the home perfects for flavor while I perfect for nutritional quality. My journey to become a dietitian started early as I grew up in competitive sport and dance, for which nutrition played a key part in performance. Later, I became interested in how nutrition can improve various aspects of health, and today I help people of all backgrounds achieve their optimal state of wellness through nutrition counselling!
Q: Why are whole foods so important to a healthy diet?
A: Whole foods are nature’s medicine! There is so much more that whole foods do for your health beyond providing energy, vitamins and minerals. Food literally becomes your body, and consuming foods in their natural “package” delivers nutrients with ease to your body’s tissues and organs. I coach clients to adopt a whole-foods, nutrient-rich diet to optimize their short and long-term health and to achieve their wellness and fitness goals.
Q: What is wheat germ?
A: Wheat germ is the protein-rich section of a wheat kernel. When a wheat kernel is planted and grows, it is the wheat germ that eventually turns into the wheat plant! Wheat germ is one of the foods that is not in its “whole intact” form that I would consider recommending to clients (that are not celiac or gluten intolerant) to improve the nutritional density of their diet. Although it is taken apart from its original form, it is still what I would personally classify as a “whole food” due to the nutrient density and lack of additives.
Q: What are some of the benefits of incorporating wheat germ into your diet?
A: Wheat germ can serve as a high protein grain choice or can be added in small amounts to boost the nutritional content of a recipe. Adding protein to breakfast can be a challenge for some people, and wheat germ can add both protein and fiber to breakfast, or any meal for that matter. A meal containing protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and a bit of healthy fats can help to keep you satisfied between meals and away from unhealthy cravings.
Q: How do you cook wheat germ?
A: It is best to not cook wheat germ too much as the oils that contain vitamin A and E could lose some of their nutritional quality if heated. That is also why wheat germ is best kept in the fridge or the freezer to preserve its quality. I prefer to sprinkle it over or into foods that do not require much cooking. It can be a grainy, crunchy topping in place of breadcrumbs, or a high protein addition to a homemade granola, smoothie, breakfast bar, energy bite, or hot cereal.
Q: What are some of your favourite recipes that include wheat germ?
A: I quite enjoy “breaded” zucchini covered in wheat germ and ground flaxseed. I also blend wheat germ into smoothies when my breakfasts lack a whole grain or significant source of protein. Note that wheat germ can add quite a significant amount of extra calories, although it’s worth it if you are substituting out other less healthy foods throughout the day for such a nutritious food!