Wheat germ oil is an oil with excellent nutritional qualities that is used both in food and in cosmetics. Find out what it is good for and how to use it.
Wheat germ oil is a vegetable oil obtained by cold pressing the embryo of the wheat grain. It is considered the most nutrient-rich part of the whole plant and contains numerous vitamins and minerals, as well as fatty acids and proteins. Wheat germ oil has a yellow ocher color and appears as a thick liquid with a very delicate odor.
It can be used both as a supplement and as a raw condiment, preferably to be mixed with extra virgin olive oil. Wheat germ oil also boasts numerous uses in the cosmetic field.
From a nutritional point of view, wheat germ oil is known for its high intake of vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties. It is a very delicate oil, which must be stored in the refrigerator and in dark glass bottles, but which in recent years has also been used a lot at a cosmetic level, for example for the care of damaged hair. In this article we will explore together all the properties of wheat germ oil, its benefits and uses.
What is Wheat Germ Oil
Wheat germ oil is a plant-derived oil that is used in the food and cosmetic fields thanks to its antioxidant capacity. This oil is extracted from wheat germ, one of the three parts of the wheat grain and in particular the innermost and protected part, from which the new wheat plants will be born.
The grain of wheat, in fact, is made up of three main layers: the outermost one, present only in whole foods, is called bran and is rich in fiber and mineral salts, the inside of the grain is instead made up of a layer called endosperm, equal to almost 83% of the whole grain; the endosperm is separated from the germ, which is located in the lower part of the grain, by a thin layer called the scutellum.
Wheat germ oil can be extracted through different methods, but the most recommended, which allows to enhance the antioxidant properties of this food, is cold pressing. In fact, this methodology allows to preserve many of the beneficial substances of wheat germ, including policosanols, tocopherols, phytosterols and alpha linolenic acid.
The chemical characteristics of this oil make it easily perishable and it is therefore recommended to store it with care: using a dark glass bottle and placing it in the refrigerator. In the kitchen, the main advice is not to cook it in order not to lose its precious properties.
Wheat germ oil: nutritional values and calories
Wheat germ oil is, from a nutritional point of view, a condiment that can be compared to other more popular condiments such as olive oil or sunflower oil.
All seasonings have similar caloric values and wheat germ oil is no exception: 100 grams provide 899 kcal. Instead, what makes the difference are the substances contained in it: as already mentioned, a feature to remember is that wheat germ oil contains vitamin E, a fat- soluble vitamin with great antioxidant properties. The analyzes did not reveal the presence of other vitamins or mineral salts, which are therefore present only in traces.
From the point of view of fatty acids, wheat germ oil contains about one fifth of saturated fatty acids, one fifth of monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) and the remaining three fifths of polyunsaturated fatty acids, divided between linoleic acid and linolenic acid (respectively known as omega-6 and omega-3): these are essential fatty acids that are essential to introduce with the diet. In the following table we report the nutritional values of wheat germ oil.
Nutritional values per 100g of wheat germ oil:
- Waterfall: traces
- kcal: 899
- Proteins: 0 g
- Total fat: 99.9 g
- Monounsaturated fats: 16.7 g
- Polyunsaturated fats: 60.4 g
- of which saturated: 18.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 0 g
- Fibers: 0 g
- Vitamin E: 136.7 mg
- Glycemic index: 0
- Cholesterol: 0 g
- Iron: traces
- Vitamin D: traces
- Magnesium: traces
- Zinc: traces
- Retinol: traces
- Folate: traces
Wheat germ oil: properties and health benefits
Now let’s see together what wheat germ oil is good for: we have already mentioned the antioxidant properties of vitamin E and the anti- inflammatory properties of the fatty acids contained in this food. In addition to these benefits, however, wheat germ oil has also been shown to be useful in the treatment of high blood sugar and cardiovascular problems. Let’s see these benefits in detail.
✓ Use in case of diabetes
In a study conducted on diabetic mice, a herbal preparation containing wheat germ oil, aloe vera and coriander showed a significant effect in decreasing blood glucose values. The presence of omega-3 also plays a beneficial role against insulin resistance. Also thanks to the presence of fats, wheat germ oil used as a condiment helps to reduce the glycemic index of a meal.
✓ Anti-aging use
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of wheat germ oil make it a functional food to fight cellular aging and counteract the production of free radicals. For this reason it is also used for the care and beauty of skin and hair.
✓ Wheat germ oil against high cholesterol
Thanks to the high presence of vitamin E and linoleic acid, wheat germ oil can boast lipid-lowering qualities; that is, it is able to provide help in the control of high cholesterol and triglycerides, if, obviously, inserted in the context of a healthy and balanced diet. The wheat germ oil also contains policosanol, a substance that also helps to reduce the values of total and LDL cholesterol, that is the bad one.
✓ Wheat germ oil, an ally of the central nervous system
The richness of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids favors the proper functioning of the central nervous system. Thanks to its composition, wheat germ oil also helps to stay more energetic and reduce the sensation of stress and fatigue.
✓ Wheat germ oil during pregnancy
Wheat germ oil is also indicated in pregnancy for its richness in vitamin E, a substance useful for the correct development of the baby. If you plan to take it as a supplement, it is always advisable to ask your doctor for advice during pregnancy, as well as for all other supplements. In this regard, we also report a (very dated) study in which it is indicated the use of wheat germ oil during pregnancy, as a source of vitamin E, in women who had had previous unexplained abortions and who had a deficient diet. of this substance. Supplementing with this oil appeared to be sufficient to carry the pregnancy to term.
✓ Wheat germ oil in weight loss diets
Sometimes wheat germ oil is used as a raw condiment even in slimming diets, not because it is low in calories but because, as happens with extra virgin olive oil, it has beneficial and useful nutritional characteristics even on a diet. In this case, however, it is important not to exceed the doses and to seek advice from a specialist.
✓ Wheat germ oil against constipation
Wheat germ oil helps fight constipation; in fact, it has laxative properties.
How much wheat germ oil to use
As we have seen, wheat germ oil is rich mainly in omega-6 fats. Although it is a type of “good fats”, an excess of this type of lipid can promote inflammation and, for this reason, it is advisable to consume wheat germ oil (as well as other oils containing mainly omega 6) not in excess and prefer, in the normal daily diet, extra virgin olive oil. In any case, the quantities of oil to be used should not exceed about 30 grams total, equal to 3 tablespoons.
Does wheat germ oil contain gluten?
We have seen that wheat germ oil comes from the grain of wheat, a plant that contains gluten, which is a protein that can trigger annoying intestinal reactions in predisposed individuals and that cannot be consumed by individuals with celiac disease.
In general, the oleification process eliminates gluten : where you want to use this oil for the skin, even in the case of celiac disease, there are no problems. The dietary wheat germ oil or the supplements deriving from it must instead provide for the “gluten-free” certification in order to be suitable for the celiac’s diet. In this way you will be sure that the oil is not contaminated with traces of gluten.
How to use wheat germ oil in cooking
Wheat germ oil can be used in cooking, where it is specified that the product purchased is for food use. As we have already specified, it is necessary to pay particular attention to its conservation because it is easily perishable: therefore be careful not to leave it in the air and in the light for a long time!
As for the uses, wheat germ oil can be used as an oil for sweet recipes as the flavor is rather delicate and will not excessively impact the taste of the recipe.
It can also be used mixed with extra virgin olive oil and only raw for the final dressing of your dishes. In this regard, we can say that the best recipes where to use this raw food are vegetable, cereal or legume soups.
It is not recommended for use in cooking (especially in frying) as its smoke point is quite low. For cooking or frying it is better to prefer extra virgin olive oil or high oleic sunflower oil.
How to use wheat germ oil as a supplement
Wheat germ oil supplements are usually capsules containing the oil obtained from cold pressing, in order to keep all its properties unaltered. These supplements can be taken to take advantage of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory function of this product or on occasions when the intake of vitamin E is reduced or the need is increased, the latter situation much more frequent. For dosages it is always good to refer to the indications provided by the manufacturer. It is also possible to find “liquid” wheat germ supplements: these are simply food-grade oils: in this case it is usually recommended to take 1 or 2 teaspoons of product per day.
Wheat germ oil for skin and hair
Wheat germ oil also exerts its antioxidant properties on our skin and hair. On the skin, in particular, it can help keep it young or improve the signs of aging or scars, especially those from acne. Even for the hair it can prove to be a real panacea, especially in the case of brittle or dull hair: to be used as a compress before washing.
Wheat germ oil: contraindications and possible interactions
No contraindications to the use of wheat germ oil have been recognized. However, as mentioned in one of the previous paragraphs, we suggest you look for products with gluten free certification where you want to use this fat for your diet and suffer from celiac disease. We also remind you that it is a product rich in fats, which should be kept under control, especially by those who follow low-calorie diets. In the event that you want to take wheat germ oil in the form of a supplement, it is advisable to seek the advice of your doctor before use.
Where do you buy wheat germ oil?
Buying wheat germ oil is not a simple matter: if a wheat germ oil supplement is easily bought in all health food stores or online sites, the oil for food use is rarer (it is found more easily oil for cosmetic use). Often even organic shops do not have it and it is easier to find this product online: in this regard we always suggest you to choose products obtained through cold pressing and of organic origin.