With increasing awareness of the benefits of vegetable oils as food and nutraceuticals (health-enhancing foods), the demand for vegetable oil has rapidly risen. However, this global trend leads to the insufficiency of vegetable oils, which entails exploring new sources of edible oil to meet the demands. And wheat germ oil is as valuable as gold. The oil gets extracted through the cold-pressing method without exposure to oxygen and light to prevent the loss of essential nutrients.
Wheat is the primary staple food in India. Wheat bran and wheat germ are two parts of wheat grain; the outer coat of the grain and the reproductive part of the grain, respectively. Wheat germ oil gets extracted from the germ part of the wheat grain. Wheat germ is the heart of the wheat kernel. The germ part of wheat is the nutrient-dense core with the highest protein, vitamins, and minerals content. Wheat germ oil has a sweet, slightly nutty, and pleasant grainy flavour and offers vitamins and antioxidants higher than any other natural oil. Therefore, this oil is suitable for culinary, medicinal, and therapeutic purposes.
Nutritional Composition of Wheat Germ Oil
The nutritional composition of wheat germ oil per 100g is as follows:
- Calories: 884 kcal
- Total fat content: 100g
- Saturated fatty acids: 18.8 g
- Monounsaturated fatty acids: 15.1 g
- Polyunsaturated fats: 61.7 g
- Choline: 20 mg
- Vitamin E: 149 mg
- Vitamin K: 27.7 μg
One hundred grams of wheat germ oil has about 884 kcal. So when you use one tablespoon of wheat germ oil, it will provide 120 Kcal.
Wheat germ oil contains zero carbohydrates, meaning no starch, fibre, or sugar. Without carbohydrates, the glycemic index of wheat germ oil is also zero. Zero glycemic index means there’s no effect on blood sugar levels.
Wheat germ oil is a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, also regarded as good fat. It contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In addition, it contains alpha-linolenic acid as well as linoleic acid. It also contains healthy monounsaturated fatty acids along with saturated fatty acids. Wheat germ oil contains eight times more omega-6 (linoleic acid) fatty acids than omega-3 (linolenic acid) fatty acids. However, it can also be a downside because omega-3 is healthier than omega-6.
Vitamins and Minerals
Wheat germ oil provides an alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E. A single serving of wheat germ oil can provide 135% of recommended daily vitamin E intake. It also contains a small amount of vitamin K used for blood clotting. While minerals are abundant in wheat germ, most minerals get lost during the oil extraction. As a result, there are only trace minerals in the wheat germ oil.
Health Benefits of Wheat Germ Oil
Helps Treat Cardiovascular Diseases
Wheat germ oil contains nutrients that help treat the symptoms associated with cardiovascular disorders. Wheat germ oil contains phytosterols that reduce cholesterol levels by reducing their absorption. In addition, the omega-3 fatty acids in wheat germ oil help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acid has significantly reduced the mortality risk caused by cardiac arrhythmias and coronary heart diseases. It reduces the risks associated with CHD like LDL cholesterol levels and high blood pressure and improves blood circulation. DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty are excellent cardioprotective agents.
Omega-3 fatty acids in wheat germ oil decrease the levels of serum triglycerides by boosting the degradation of fatty acids. In addition, reduction in hepatic synthesis of LDL cholesterol also helps reduce triglyceride levels.
Another study shows that omega-3 fatty acid intake reduces plasma triglycerides, resting heart rate, and blood pressure. It enhances the efficiency of myocardial function and improves vascular function by increasing blood flow. It suggests that consuming omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death.
Wheat germ oil is a good source of vitamin E, a powerful radical-scavenging antioxidant that helps scavenge free radicals such as lipid oxidation and peroxidation. It also contains different forms of vitamin E; tocotrienols and alpha-tocopherols. Lipid oxidation is a precursor of chronic metabolic disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. It also helps to improve the immune system. In addition, vitamin E possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help in easing inflammation.
Studies suggest that increased levels of tocopherols in the body show scavenging effects against oxidation damage. As a result, it reduces the progression of atherosclerosis, fatty liver diseases, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.
A study demonstrates that tocopherols inhibit the formation and growth of cancer in the lungs and colon. In addition, it shows the anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic activities of tocopherols in the lungs and colon.
Wheat germ oil contains potent antioxidants which possess anti-ageing activities. It delays the progression of anti-ageing signs and symptoms such as dull skin, uneven tone, wrinkles, fine lines, enlarged pores, dry skin, sagging, and dark spots on the skin. Wheat germ oil has omega-3 fatty acids that possess nourishing and moisturising effects and help treat dry and damaged skin. It has a potent antioxidant nutrient, vitamin E that fights against free radicals and prevents oxidative damage. It reduces the appearance of wrinkles and scars by stimulating collagen formation between cells.
Studies suggest wheat germ oil contains vitamin E, B-complex, unsaturated fatty acids, and other phytochemicals. It further shows that the dose-dependent formulation of wheat germ oil significantly increased the wound healing activity. For example, wheat germ ointment reduced the wound size by 90% within three weeks.
Wheat germ oil has nourishing and moisturising properties that help in hair growth. It stimulates the growth of hair and increases blood circulation in the scalp. Linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid in wheat germ oil strengthens the hair follicles and restores the moisture content in the hair strands. It improves the elasticity of hair strands and adds shine, strength, and softness to the hair.
A study assesses the effects of wheat germ oil on diabetes. It demonstrated that wheat germ oil significantly reduced the fasting blood glucose, HbA1c, serum lipid profile, serum insulin, and HDL cholesterol levels. Persistent hyperglycemia increased the production of free radicals in diabetic patients. Wheat germ oil possesses potent antioxidant activity that scavenges the free radicals and reduces oxidative damage. The study proved that high doses of wheat germ oil exhibit anti-diabetic, anti-hyperlipidemic, and antioxidant properties. In addition, it possesses protective effects against diabetic complications.
Possible Side Effects of Wheat Germ Oil
While there are certain benefits of wheat germ oil, it can also cause various potential risks such as:
Wheat germ oil is relatively safe and has several health benefits but can cause allergic reactions. A protein named agglutinin is present in wheat germ associated with a wheat allergy. Although during the extraction of wheat germ oil, loss of a large amount of protein occurs. It is not sure whether germ oil will cause allergic symptoms. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and you should avoid using wheat germ oil if you have a wheat allergy. It can cause gastrointestinal problems, skin irritation, and dizziness. It can be severe if the individual has pre-existing medical conditions.
Wheat germ contains high oxalate content. It has about 10 milligrams of oxalic acid per tablespoon. Excess consumption of oxalate can be the cause of kidney stones in people. However, the presence of oxalic acid wheat germ oil is not known.
Interacts With Anti-Diabetic Drugs
Wheat germ oil often regulates blood sugar levels, hence maintaining diabetic conditions. But taking alongside anti-diabetic drugs can lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels. It can cause hypoglycemic conditions.
Topical Application of Wheat Germ Oil
Wheat germ oil can cause skin irritation, inflammation, redness, swelling, and rashes in people with sensitive skin or hypersensitivity. It is best to avoid the oil. Do a patch test before applying it topically anywhere on the body.
Interacts With Hypertension Medications
Wheat germ oil lowers blood pressure. However, if taken with blood pressure-lowering medications, it might lead to a deadly drop in blood pressure. Always consult a physician about wheat germ oil before adding this into the diet.
The ideal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is 1:1 or 1:4. The percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in wheat germ oil is 1:8. If not eaten in moderation, it can increase blood cholesterol levels, leading to several metabolic disorders.
Ways to Use Wheat Germ Oil
- Wheat germ oil has a thick consistency with a strong odour. Therefore, it is suitable for medicinal purposes.
- It helps to manufacture pharmaceutical products.
- It is mixed with lighter and smoother oils and is suitable as a skin-nutrient additive in cosmetic products. It is mainly present in anti-ageing cosmetics.
- It is unsuitable for deep-frying because of its low smoking point, i.e., <230 degrees celsius. Therefore, it is best for cooking cold recipes such as salad dressing, dips, and soups.
Recipes and Preparation Tips
Wheat germ oil has a low smoking point; hence you should not use it in high-temperature cooking methods. Suppose the wheat germ oil is heated even at low temperatures. In that case, it can lose ingredients, especially vitamin E. Therefore, it is best for cold dishes such as salad dressings, sauce, vegetable dishes, toppings, and pasta. You can add wheat germ oil to energy bars, granolas, breakfast cereals, smoothies, shakes, juices, bread, pies, yoghurt, and ice cream.
Potato Cucumber Salad
Preparation time: 30 minutes
- Potato: 2
- Cucumber: 1
- Vegetable broth: 4 tbsp
- Wheat germ oil: 2 tsp
- Black pepper (freshly grounded): A pinch
- Dill (chopped): 1 tsp
- Yoghurt: 3 tbsp
- Lemon juice: 1 tsp
- Pumpkin seed: 1 tsp
- Chives: 1 tbsp
- Salt: as per taste
Method of Preparation
- Clean the potatoes and boil them for 20 minutes in water. Drain the water, peel the potatoes, and cut them into slices.
- Peel the cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise and remove its seeds. Next, cut the cucumber into slices.
- Mix vegetable broth with 1 tsp wheat germ oil, salt, pepper, and dill.
- Add the potatoes with cucumber and marinade.
- Mix yoghurt with 1 tsp wheat germ oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Sprinkle pumpkin seeds and chives over the top and serve it with yoghurt.
Wheat Berry Salad
Preparation time: 2 hours 10 minutes
- Wheat grain: 50 g
- Cabbage: 125 g
- Red bell pepper: ¼ cup
- Green bell pepper: ¼ cup
- Onion: ½ cup
- Wheat germ oil: 1¼ tbsp
- Whipped cream: 80 g
- Lemon juice: ½ tbsp
- Curry powder: ½ tbsp
- Black pepper (Freshly grounded): A pinch
- Salt: as per taste
Method of Preparation
- Soak the wheat grain overnight. Add 3.5 cups of water to a pan, add the soaked wheat grain, and bring it to a boil. Cover the pan, and let it simmer for an hour.
- Then turn off the heat, cool it, and strain through a sieve.
- Cut the bell peppers and cabbage into strips. Remove seeds and ribs of bell peppers.
- Peel the onion and dice them. Heat the wheat germ oil at a low heat and saute the vegetables for a few minutes.
- Add wheat grain and saute it for 2-5 minutes.
- Add the cream, lemon juice, and curry powder to the dish and saute it.
- Add the salad to the bowl and season it with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Serve it.
Berries and Oat Bran Drink
Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
- Orange juice: 50 g
- Lemon juice: 1 tbsp
- Carrot juice: 3 tbsp
- Wheat germ oil: ½ tsp
- Oat bran: ½ tbsp
- Honey: ½ tbsp
- Berries (mixed): ¼ cup
Method of Preparation
- Place the berries (blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries), orange juice, carrot juice, and lemon juice into the blender and blend it thoroughly.
- Add the wheat germ oil, oat bran, and honey to the blended mixture and blend it again.
- Pour the drink into glasses and garnish it with blackberries or nuts. Serve it cold.
Storage Tips for Wheat Germ Oil
Wheat germ oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids. If not stored correctly, it can rapidly become rancid and sour. Therefore, proper storage of wheat germ oil is essential to prevent rancidity and spoilage. Some of the tips to keep wheat germ oil are as follows:
- Since wheat germ oil is sensitive to air and light contact, store the wheat germ oil in a tight glass container in a dry, dark place to prevent the loss of nutrients due to oxidation. Polyunsaturated fatty acids present in the oil are highly prone to oxidation. Vitamin E protects the oil against deterioration associated with oxidation.
- Keeping the oil in the refrigerator may increase its shelf life by six months. However, it should be consumed as swiftly as possible, preferably in 2-3 months. Store the oil in cold storage to preserve its freshness. While placing the oil at a cold temperature, ensure the lid of the oil container is tight to prevent air and moisture from entering the container. Double-check to ensure the oil is placed in a tightly sealed container to avoid spoilage.
- You should not heat wheat germ oil as it leads to fat oxidation, resulting in loss of taste, flavour, and essential nutrients.
- Wheat germ oil is sensitive to air and light contact. Therefore, when it comes in contact with air or light, it results in spoilage, i.e., rancidity and loss of taste and nutrients.
- Conventionally produced wheat germ oil may contain insecticides that might cause harmful effects on the human body. Always try to buy oil from organic cultivation, preferably extracted through cold-pressed technology.
Wheat germ oil is an exceptionally healthy oil extracted from the germ part of the wheat grain. It is a rich source of tocopherols, i.e. vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It possesses anti-diabetic, anti-hyperlipidemic, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, anti-ageing, and antioxidant properties. Wheat germ oil is known for many health benefits, but it might cause side effects. The research on wheat germ oil is not adequate to reach any conclusions.
Aside from that, wheat germ oil has particular storage conditions. Improper storage conditions may lead to rancidity, i.e., spoilage and loss of taste and essential nutrients. Furthermore, with the low shelf life span, you must consume it within 2-3 months of opening to avoid spoilage.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is wheat germ oil good for?
A. Wheat germ oil is good for treating several skin and hair conditions. It acts as an anti-ageing agent and delays the progression of ageing signs. One can use it for baking, cooking, and dressing but shouldn’t get exposed to high temperatures because of its low smoking point. Wheat germ oil is helpful in the manufacture of cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Wheat germ oil contains phytosterols that help regulate cholesterol levels and help prevent the progression of cardiovascular diseases and other metabolic disorders.
Q. Does wheat germ oil make your hair grow?
A. Wheat germ oil contains linoleic acid, and Vitamin E. Linoleic acid has natural moisturising and nourishing properties, while vitamin E offers potent antioxidant properties. These factors stimulate healthy hair growth and increase blood circulation on the scalp. Regular oil application strengthens the hair follicles and restores the moisture content in the strands. In addition, it adds shine, strength, and softness to the hair and improves the elasticity of the hair strands.
Q. What does wheat germ oil do to your face?
A. Wheat germ oil is an excellent source of vitamin E that helps to lessen skin damage by fighting free radicals and maintaining a healthy even skin tone. It moisturises and heals dry and cracked skin. It promotes collagen formation and exhibits anti-ageing and antioxidant properties that help cure skin conditions. Wheat germ oil exhibits humectant properties that moisturise the skin to prevent acne breakouts, tighten skin, and reduce scarring. In addition, it blocks excess sebum production and seals the skin’s moisture.
Q. How do I use wheat germ oil?
A. Wheat germ oil can be used on the skin or face as a face cleanser, moisturiser, and anti-ageing cream. You can mix wheat germ oil with essential oils like lavender, almond, cedarwood, and rose oil. However, don’t expose wheat germ oil to high temperatures because of its low smoking point. Cooking at high temperatures can disintegrate the structure and lead to the rancidity of the oil.
Q. Is wheat germ oil the same as vitamin E?
A. No, vitamin E is a component found in wheat germ oil. Aside from vitamin E, wheat germ oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and phytosterols with anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Wheat germ oil is a Vitamin E source and exhibits potent antioxidant properties. In addition, wheat germ oil contains the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E. A tablespoon of wheat germ oil provides 20 mg of vitamin E, i.e. 135% of one’s daily intake of vitamin E.
Q. Is wheat germ good for skin?
A. Yes, wheat germ oil is an effective moisturiser and helps heal dry and cracked skin. It is highly nourishing, and moisturising helps reduce skin damage, lightens the skin, removes dark spots, and prevents scarring. This byproduct gets rapidly absorbed into the skin, reduces excess sebum production, and locks the skin moisture. It treats psoriasis, vitiligo, dry skin conditions, wrinkles, stretch marks, scars, and eczema. In addition, it has skin-regenerating properties and can heal sunburns, rashes, and dermatitis.
Q. Is wheat germ good for thinning hair?
A. wheat germ oil is a rich source of linoleic acid that possesses natural nourishing and moisturising properties. It helps reduce hair damage by repairing dry and damaged hair from the roots. Wheat germ strengthens the hair strands and prevents hair thinning, split ends, and hair breakage. It increases the blood circulation on the scalp and improves the strength and elasticity of each hair strand. It makes the hair shiny, smooth, and lustrous.
Q. Is wheat germ good for weight loss?
A. Yes, wheat germ helps in weight loss by increasing the body’s metabolism to burn more calories. Vitamin B in wheat germ helps boost energy levels, enabling one to do a more challenging workout. It contains unsaturated fats, referred to as good fats, that reduce cholesterol levels and help shed weight loss. It is high in dietary fibre, reducing constant food cravings and regulating blood cholesterol levels.
Q. Does wheat germ oil help treat wrinkles?
A. Wheat germ oil contains linoleic acid, phospholipids, and vitamin E, which stimulates collagen production and improves skin elasticity. Wheat germ oil delays the progression of ageing signs such as wrinkles, fine lines, dull skin, and uneven skin tone. It has emollient properties which reduce skin irritation and soothes dry skin.
Q. What does wheat germ oil taste like?
A. Wheat germ oil has a slightly nutty and grainy taste. When added to recipes, it provides essential nutrients and a distinctive flavour. It adds a unique freshness to the recipes and enhances their different flavours. It has a beautiful liquid gold colour and tastes pleasantly like grain.