Raw wheat germ, vacuum packed, retains all of its nutrients. The nutritional loss from toasting wheat germ is minimal but it does occur.
Benefits of Raw Wheat Germ
Toasted wheat germ has a great, sweet, nutty flavor that raw wheat germ doesn't have. It also is much more shelf stable. However, once wheat germ is toasted, some of the nutrition is lost. The longer it is toasted, the more nutrition it loses. To get the most out of wheat germ, it should be eaten raw or only lightly toasted and the only way to guarantee that is to buy raw wheat germ vacuum packed so it is fresh.
Other benefits of buying raw wheat germ are:
- Less expensive than toasted
- You can toast it for some recipes and have it raw as well
- There are more of the natural oils that are good for you
Storing Raw Wheat Germ for Optimum Nutrition
Raw wheat germ loses nutrients and becomes rancid very quickly when exposed to air. Because of this it is important to buy wheat germ vacuumed packed. The vacuum packed containers should be kept in the refrigerated section of the store.Once you get it home store it tightly sealed in the freezer for no more than two months. Wheat germ does not necessarily taste rancid when it goes bad but it loses many of the important nutrients. Measure out what you need for your recipe and put the package away immediately. Glass containers that are freezer safe (like Mason jars) work the best for storing raw wheat germ.
Using Raw Wheat Germ
In order to get the nutritional value of the raw wheat germ you should eat it in the raw state as much as possible. It has a nutty flavor that is not quite as distinctive as toasted wheat germ. Because it is on the bland side you can add it to dishes without significantly changing the flavor.
Ideas for including raw wheat germ in your daily diet include:
- Stir it into yogurt
- Add a tablespoon or two to a smoothie
- Sprinkle it over cereal or cooked oatmeal
- Toss it into a salad
- Sprinkle it on a peanut butter sandwich
- Use it in raw vegan recipes
Raw Wheat Germ and Dried Fruit Balls
- ½ cup pitted dates
- ½ cup dried apricots
- ½ cup dried figs
- ¼ cup coconut
- ¼ to ½ cup of raw wheat germ
Pulse the ingredients together in a food processor until they are well blended. Add more wheat germ as needed to make the mixture firmer. Roll into balls and then roll in chopped nuts or more wheat germ. Store in the refrigerator.
Toasting Raw Wheat Germ
By getting raw wheat germ and then toasting it yourself you can control how much it is toasted and thus how many nutrients are lost. It is easy to do but you will need to pay close attention so as not to burn the wheat germ.
Place the raw wheat germ in a heavy skillet and toast over medium heat stirring constantly. Remove from the pan immediately when it is toasted as much as you want.
Where to Find Raw Wheat Germ Vacuum Packed
Most natural food and health food stores carry raw wheat germ in the refrigerated section. National stores that often carry this product are:
- Whole Foods
- Wild Oats
- Trader Joes
- Vitamin Shoppe
If your are unable to find a local source of raw wheat germ you can find it online. Try one of the following websites:
Using raw wheat germ is a very healthy addition to your diet. By buying and storing it properly you can retain a larger percentage of the nutritional value.