Why is Wheat Germ Healthy?

Whole Wheat

We have been told that adding wheat germ to our diet will have health benefits, but not everyone is sure as to why wheat germ is healthy for you.

What is Wheat Germ?

Wheat germ is one of the three parts that make up a wheat kernel. The reason that they tell you that whole wheat flour and eating the whole grain is better for you is because each of the parts that makesup a wheat kernel has a different nutritional property that is beneficial to the human body. Whole wheat products contain the entire kernel and therefore they contain all of the nutrients.

A wheat kernel is divided into:

  • Bran: this is the outside covering of the kernel and it is where all of the fiber is
  • Endosperm: this is what the developing plant would eat and is where the starch of the wheat kernel is
  • The germ: this is the part of the wheat kernel that would become a plant and this is where the fat of the kernel is. The germ is also the most nutrient rich part of the kernel

Read: Is Wheat Germ Good for You

What Nutritional Value Does a Wheat Germ Have?

Some of the many nutrients and vitamins that can be found in a wheat kernel are:

  • Protein is almost thirty percent of the makeup of the wheat germ. That is actually more protein than can be found in the majority of meats. Protein helps cells to grow and repair.
  • Vitamin E helps you to have healthy skin and a healthy reproduction system. Wheat germ contains high levels of this antioxidant rich vitamin.
  • Thiamine is very important in regulating our metabolism and helping us have a healthy nervous system. It also helps people to have skin free of blemishes.
  • Magnesium works to help humans have healthy hearts and circulatory systems. Together with calcium it helps to keep bones strong.
  • Vitamin B5 is very important if you want to speed up your metabolism and to clear cholesterol out of your system. This vitamin helps you to burn off those calories and to have the energy to do everything you want to do.
  • Fiber is important to keep the body cleaned out and to help prevent cancers and many other diseases. Fiber also makes you feel full so that you do not overeat so it helps you to not gain weight.

How to Add Wheat Germ to Your Diet

Now instead of asking why is wheat germ healthy you are asking how can I add this to my diet? It is very easy to add wheat germ to breads and baked goods because it has a pleasantly sweet taste. You can even sprinkle the wheat germ on the top of your cereals in the morning.

There are supplements and tablets for those of you that wish to not eat the germ but the supplements and the pills do not have the same benefits of high fiber that the powdered wheat germ has.

You should store this in a cool dry place in an air tight container.

Useful References

Why do People Become Vegetarians

High Protein Vegetarian Diet

People who are not vegetarians often cannot figure out why on earth some people give up the delicious taste of meat and meat products. There are actually several different reasons why some people choose to eliminate meat from their diets.

Why do Some Vegetarians Eat Eggs and Dairy?

The term vegetarian covers a lot of different people who eat a lot of different diets. Some vegetarians eat eggs and drink milk, some do not, some eat fish and others do not. The same thing is true of the meat eaters because some people eat pork, and some do not. Some people only eat chicken and avoid beef while others eat it all.

The Four Main Reasons to Be Vegetarian

There are basically four main reasons why some people choose to not eat meat in the manner that meat eaters do. These reasons include:

  • Some people feel that the animals that are used for food are treated inhumanely and they do not want to participate in the torture and what they consider as cruel lives these animals live. Some of the people who are vegetarian for these reasons are called vegans. Vegans do not eat meat and they do not eat anything that contains yeast, nor do they wear anything made of wool, or leather.
  • Some people have religious reasons for not eating meat. Hinduism and Buddhism both discourage the consumption of meat.
  • Some people eat in this manner because they have a hard time digesting meat and meat products. In order to be pain free they avoid meat. There are even those people who simply do not like the texture of meats or the flavors of them.
  • Some people eat the vegetarian style because it is environmentally friendlier in their area. There are people and places where the raising of animals is a difficult thing to do.

Is a Vegetarian Diet Really that Healthy For You?

The vegetarian diet is very healthy and encouraged. Even people that do eat meat know that they are supposed to consume more vegetables and whole grains than they do meat products.

What are the Benefits of being Vegetarian?

There are many benefits of eating a vegetarian diet including:

  • Weight control: most vegetarians have less excess fat on their bodies
  • Heart health: most vegetarians have lower cholesterol levels because they do not eat foods containing cholesterol
  • Lower risk of diabetes: because the vegetarians control their weight better they are less likely to become stricken by type II diabetes
  • More energy: because this style of eating eliminates the fats that make us feel sluggish people eating this way are more energetic and report feeling better more often than their peers who eat meat
  • Reduces the risk of Gallbladder conditions: because most gallbladder problems are associated with a high fat diet the reduction of meat and fat are recommended for people to prevent the condition.

Whether or not you eat meat you should try to include as many fruits and vegetables as you can in your daily diet.

Useful References

Why Are Vegetables Good for You?

Green Leafy Vegetables

You have undoubtedly had people tell you to eat all of your vegetables because they are good for you. You may not know why these foods are so good for your body but you eat your vegetables anyway.

Why Humans Started Eating Vegetables

The real reason that we started eating vegetables as a species is because plant based foods were more readily available than meat products were. Plant based foods were also easier to digest and easier to prepare. Most of them could be consumed raw and the majority of them had a delicious taste that appealed to us.

As time passed we began to learn more about the vegetables that we included in our diets. Most of the research into what benefits we gained from the eating of vegetable matter over the eating of animal products came about when it was noticed that people who had more vegetable matter in their diets were generally healthier, and had more energy, than people who consumed mainly meat products.

Why Do Vegetables Increase Our Energy?

Since we discovered that vegetables seemed to make people feel better and look better research was done to find out why. The researchers discovered that vegetables had many different vitamins, and minerals, and antioxidants, and other things that you needed to have a healthy body.

Once this was understood about the plant matter we eat researchers discovered that eating meat products that contained fat made the body feel sluggish and sleepy. Vegetables had fiber in them to help keep our digestive system functioning correctly and they do not weigh us down. They have fewer calories per serving than the meat products have and they provide all the different parts of the body with the different vitamins they need to do their jobs.

Read: Healthiest Fruits and Vegetables

Should We All Be Vegetarians?

Although there are some benefits to be gained from some meats and meat products, a person can become a vegetarian and be healthy and happy. Vegetarians eat less fat and for that reason they are generally thinner than people who eat both vegetables and meat.

A lot of diseases can be prevented by eating vegetables that have different properties.

  • People who have heart conditions or high cholesterol problems in their families can lower their chances of having these conditions by maintaining their weight and eating more vegetables and high fiber foods.
  • Type II diabetes can be prevented if you eat more vegetables and natural fruits and avoid refined sugars, and the extra weight that the meat products can cause you to have.
  • The vitamins in carrots and other brightly colored vegetables can improve your vision.
  • Eating a diet that is rich in vegetables can prevent problems associated with the gallbladder and the formation of gallstones

What are the Best Vegetables to Eat?

There is not a bad vegetable to eat. Each of them have different vitamins and health benefits for you but two of the vegetables that have the most over all health benefits are:

  1. sweet potatoes
  2. beets

Useful References

Whey Protein Powder and Depression

Whey Protein

Recent studies have shown a link between whey protein powder and the relief of common depression symptoms. Some people say that the benefits that whey protein powder has when it comes to alleviating the symptoms of depression are due to the fact that the whey protein powder contains an amino acid called L-tryptophan that is detrimental in our body’s production of serotonin.

It is commonly believed that a large portion of the population that suffers with depression do so because they have lower levels of serotonin than they need. Eating foods that contain L-tryptophan is a natural way to increase the level of serotonin in your body.

Understanding the Connection between Depression and Anxiety

Doctors are really just now starting to understand the connection between depression and its symptoms and the presence of anxiety in a person. Our moods are not affected by just one element but rather by several different elements. The thoughts we have, and the behaviors we engage in as well as the chemical messengers in our body all play a part in our moods and the changes in them.

Serotonin and dopamine are both chemicals produced by the brain. Both of these chemicals can cause feelings of:

  • Anxiety
  • Relaxation
  • Being depressed
  • Being happy

Although the exact way these chemicals make these responses happen are not known there was a new class of medications developed in 1987 that stop the nerve cells in the brain from being capable of reabsorbing the serotonin. This leaves more serotonin circulating throughout the body and has the effect of elevating people’s moods. These medications are known as SSRI drugs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

How is Serotonin Produced?

Serotonin is produced from the L-tryptophan that you take in in the foods that you eat. Everyone has heard about the turkey making people sleepy because of the tryptophan. Well the largest amount of this type of amino acid is found in meats and animal products. Whey powder is also an excellent source of L-tryptophan.


Linking Whey Powder to Elevated Moods

There are no hard studies linking whey powder to a reduction in depression as of yet. There are however many reports on the internet of people who have noticed that people taking whey powder for other reasons were experiencing an elevation in moods and a reduction in anxiety issues and in depression symptoms.

It has been a known fact that serotonin could not be produced in the body without the body containing adequate levels of L-tryptophan so the deduction that the whey powders provision of this amino acid was the source of the elevation in the moods of the users was a natural one.

It appears that the majority of people who were using the whey powder and experiencing mood increases were athletes so there are some people who say you cannot accurately say that it was the whey powder that helped their moods because physical exercise has also been reported to improve the symptoms of depression.

It may be that it was a combination of the two things that created the elevation of moods. Whey powder will not cause harmful side effects in the human body so it is safe to say that trying it may be beneficial to your mental health.

Useful References

Is Whey Protein Dangerous?

Whey Protein

Much has been written about whey protein in sports nutrition and it is frequently found in health food shops in large multi-colored plastic pots pronouncing its muscle building qualities. But what is whey protein exactly and how good is it for you?

Where does whey come from?

The protein in cow’s milk is 20% whey protein. When cheese is manufactured whey is left over as a by-product. A globular protein (meaning it is more or less soluble) whey has always been around. But in the last few decades it has become packaged and given marketing hype as the miracle muscle builder before being sold to us for high prices.

Whey comes in three forms: Isolates, Concentrates, Hydrolosates

  • Hydrolosates – if you are looking for sports nutrition this is the body builder/athlete variety.
  • Isolate – As in isolated. Everything else removed. If you are after purity then whey protein isolate is the one you are after.
  • Concentrates – Most commonly found variety.

Why whey?

The most common use of whey protein is for those who wish to provide a quick protein fix to their muscles, often directly after working out. The reason most commonly stated is that exercise without adequate protein causes the muscles to break down and actually makes you weaker rather than stronger. Perhaps you don’t want arms like Mr Schwarzenegger, but to get all the health benefits of exercise and increase your strength it sounds like you need more protein. But do you need it in whey form?

The answer really depends on a number of factors. Are you using weights as part of your exercise program? Do you have adequate protein from other sources in your diet? But the number one reason people use a drink such a protein shake is because as it is in liquid form your body does not need as much time to break it down as a solid food and therefore it is more likely to replenish your muscles quicker in the extremely important 45 minutes after a workout for muscle recovery.

So if you are exercising with intensity and regularity then whey may be what you need.

Are there any dangers?

If you suffer from milk allergies then you should definitely check with a doctor as to whether whey protein would be suitable for you.

There are also potential dangers from having too much protein. This can cause liver and kidney damage or potentially osteoporosis.

Scientists still have not come up with any conclusive answers about the potential dangers of whey. But just be aware of the pressures and motivations of marketers in their attempts to persuade you that continual drinking of their product is going to create your perfect body. The point is to always remember the watchword of moderation.

And remember that if you want to increase your body’s muscle tone, then you also need to exercise! Drinking a sports supplement alone is not going to do it for you!

Useful References

Is Wheat Germ Good for You

Whole Wheat

If you are looking for a nutrition boost but don’t want to resort to popping vitamins and minerals in pill form, then you might want to consider wheat germ. Small, yes, unassuming even, but this little seed packs a champion’s punch when it comes to protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, zinc and essential fatty acids.

What is wheat germ?

Wheat germ is a tiny part of a grain of wheat, found in the reproductive part that germinates helping the wheat grass form.

Wheat Germ benefits

There are so many different nutritional benefits of wheat germ that to list them all almost sounds like showing off!

Wheat germ is a very good source of Omega 3 and Omega 6 which are essential fatty acids that you have probably heard about as being found in fish. This means that eating wheat germ can help you lower your cholesterol levels, is good for the heart and can help elevate mood as well as being good for your joints. With only one table spoon of wheat germ you have all your Omega 3 requirements for the day.

Wheat germ has a very high 30% protein content which is more than many meat products. About a cup serving of wheat germ can give you as much as 50% of your daily protein intake needs. Wheat germ also contains one of the highest sources of potassium and iron you can find in any food source. That’s without even mentioning its fiber value.

Other benefits of wheat germ

  1. Gives energy and increases stamina
  2. Good for the immune system
  3. Combats the signs of aging by helping to protect the skin
  4. Balances the metabolism

Wheat Germ in cooking

Some of wheat germ’s nutrients will still remain with cooking. For example the antioxidant properties of the phytonutrient L-egothioneine are not destroyed when wheat germ is cooked.

Why not try experimenting with buying wheat germ oil to add to your food? Try using it instead of butter or vegetable oil for added health benefits (if you are already use a healthier oil such as olive oil then you can still mix things up a bit with some wheat germ oil). Use for adding flavor to salads or to fry in.

To use the wheat germ itself, try sprinkling on oatmeal or adding to a fresh fruit smoothie. Wheat germ can also be used to add to recipes for cakes and breads, substituting part of the flour for wheat germ. Wheat germ can also be added as a substitute for breadcrumbs.

In conclusion

It seems that wheat germ has so many benefits that it just makes sense to add a sprinkle to your food every now and again. If you buy a jar, keep it tightly sealed and use as appropriate. Look for recipes and find the tastiest way for you to add one of nature’s wonder foods to your diet.

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Is Coconut Milk Healthy?

coconut milk

Have you ever picked up a recipe for something a little exotic like a Thai curry and wondered about the ingredient coconut milk? It sounds tasty, but how do you know if you are putting something healthy onto your dish and into your body?

There is some confusion within the nutritional community and for consumers alike as to whether coconut milk is healthy or not. On the one hand coconut milk is natural and comes from a plant source but on the other hand it does contain high amounts of saturated fat. Some people say steer clear for the health of your heart, others say that those who drink coconut milk have healthier hearts on average. How can you decide when the experts themselves seem to disagree? Maybe we need to look deeper.

What is coconut milk?

Clearly it is not milk, so for those of you who are lactose intolerant there is no problem there. Also it is not coconut water, the clear liquid that can make a refreshing drink when you slice open a fresh coconut. Coconut milk is actually made from soaking the white solid coconut flesh in water, then pressing and draining it. What comes out is the coconut milk.

Does it have any health benefits?

The sheer idea of saturated fat in coconut milk might send many people worried about their health running for the hills. But the saturated fat from coconuts, being plant based is of a different sort than that from animal sources. Some nutritionists even believed that the saturated fat in coconut milk can actually raise the metabolism and therefore help you lose weight. Those who use coconut milk in their diet tend to be slimmer and suffer from less heart disease and have lower cholesterol than those who are getting all their saturated fats from French-fries and animal sources in the West.

If you are worried, then there is an easy way out; follow the age-old advice, everything in moderation. After all your body does need some fats to be healthy. If you do use coconut milk and are worried about the fat content, then once every week or two is probably going to be OK. And it is going to be better for you than something like butter.

In addition there are light coconut milk options you can buy or you could try just diluting the coconut milk with some water.

Coconut milk verdict

It is not necessary to add coconut milk to your diet but on the other hand in moderation it should not be anything to worry about. And if you are going to add some fat to your diet you may as well use a healthier plant based option. Just be sure to balance what you eat with green vegetables, fruits nuts and seeds and complex carbohydrates. If you are following that kind of healthy diet then a little indulgence now and again is going to be OK.

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Is a Peanut a Legume?


How can a peanut not be a nut? Well the clue is in the other part to its name,“pea”. Think of the way peas and edamame beans grow in a pod with a seam on their side. That is part of the definition of what makes a legume a legume (and not a nut). Also when you consider that peanuts grow underground rather than on trees as real nuts do, then you can start to see that it is not just a case of semantics. But, more importantly, let’s look at why these legumes might be of benefit to us in our diets.

Why eat peanuts?

You may know already that peanuts pack a powerful protein punch – at 25g per 100g they contain more protein than any “true” nut. But did you know that their antioxidant properties rival many fruits?

Aside from many other nutrients peanuts are also a source of:

  • Niacin – which is needed for proper blood flow and good brain health
  • Coenzyme Q10 – which is used for generating energy in your body’s cells
  • Arginine – which may be good for your heart, blood flow and arteries

Let’s go nuts about eating this legume…

There are many ways you can add more peanuts to your diet; its versatility is almost endless:

  • Try adding them to a smoothie with banana, honey, oats and yoghurt for an after gym protein boost
  • Sprinkle into rice, curries, stir fries, or salads for added crunchy texture
  • How about some spicy satay?
  • Eat as peanut butter on wheat bread
  • Carry them as a snack with dried fruits
  • Use peanut oil in your cooking
  • Try buying or making peanut milk
  • Try traditional African peanut butter sauce made with onion, garlic, peanut paste and vegetables
  • American or African peanut soup

So there are no excuses! You can even have them in peanut candies, although the sugar and artificial ingredients may cause you more health concerns than health benefits.

Potential Concerns

The main concern is allergic reactions. If you know you are free of any peanut allergies be sure to check with guests before feeding them peanuts or food cooked with peanut oil. Peanut allergies untreated can even be fatal for some people.

Whilst there could be concerns about the overeating of peanuts providing too much fat (they contain nearly twice as much fat as protein) they contain no trans-fats and contain many other nutrients as well. For maximum health avoid salted peanuts. And if you are a vegan then beware that the honeyed variety may contain gelatin. Dry roasted, however, have no such problem.

In conclusion

Peanuts are versatile, filling and full of protein and other nutrients. If you are sensible about the amounts you eat then their fat content should mitigated. And for a protein boost to a vegetarian dish, or for added texture they can be sprinkled at your eating pleasure!

Useful References

Is a Cashew a Legume?


Sometimes it can be hard to decide if something is a nut or a legume, just like it can be hard to identify a fruit from a vegetable. A tomato is used in main dish cooking and often thought of as a vegetable but in all honesty the hardy tomato is a fruit. A cashew is not a legume, but it is also not a nut. A cashew is actually a seed.

What is a Legume?

A legume grows in a pod that has multiple seeds in it. Common examples of legumes are the green beans and peas. A legume will open on its own when it has reached a certain stage of ripeness. Seeds for legumes often attach to the pods.

A Cashew is a Seed

The cashew is actually a seed that is attached to the cashew apple on the bottom of the apple. You may not have ever heard of the cashew apple and there is good reason for this. The fruit is good to eat but has a shelf life of 24 hours after harvest. This basically makes them unsuitable for transport and so the apple portion of this treat is only consumed by people who live in close proximity to the trees.

Is a Cashew A Legume?

Some people confuse the cashew with a legume because when the cashew tree blooms it forms a large seed, and between that large seed and the stem a fruit forms. It takes about two months for this apple to form and become ripened. Because the seed is attached on the bottom of the apple in the manner it is many people assume that this is a legume not a nut.

Is a Cashew a True Seed or a Nut?

In the world of cooking and culinary delights the cashew is considered a nut. Anything that is in a hard shell and is cracked open to remove the edible seed is considered a nut to chefs. So any large seed can and is considered a nut.

A cashew can be cracked open but only with a very special tool that very few companies have. There is a toxin on the inside of the cashew shell that can ruin the seed if you do not use the specialized tool to crack it open. Therefore the majority of these seeds are removed from their shell by steaming them until they open.

Is the Cashew Safe to Eat Raw?

The few companies that have the equipment to open these seeds can provide you with cashews that are safe to eat raw. The steamed cashews are safe to eat once they are open.Most people cannot pick cashews because when they do they break out in a rash similar to the rash caused by poison oak.

Why are Cashews so Expensive?

These seeds are more expensive than a lot of other nuts because:

  • The poison on the exterior of the shell
  • The difficulty in opening due to the toxin inside the shell
  • The trees are not easily grown in many different locations

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How Oats Are Processed


There are many health benefits of eating oats and if you are already aware of this and have gone out to buy oats, then you can be excused for a little confusion; why are there three types of oats and which type is best?
What are they and what if I pick the wrong one for me?

Oat processing

First the raw oats are cleaned and sieved and then the outer hulls are removed by being thrown and tumbled in a machine. That way there are no bits of dirt for you to chew on when you are taking a mouthful of porridge. After having air blown at them to remove the loose hulls, the oats are then roasted.

The three different types of oats you will then see are the result of the differences in the next process.

Steel Cut Oats

Why buy steel cut oats? These are the ones that usually need the longest cooking, about 30 minutes. So why bother with steel cut? Aside from the previous process described, the thing about steel cut oats is that they are cut down and then that it is it. No more processing. So therefore you get the maximum amounts of nutrients. If you see Scotch or Irish oats these are just Steel Cut Oats under a different name.

Rolled Oats

Steamed, flattened, rolled and toasted, rolled oats have a reduced cooking time of 15 minutes compared to the 30 minutes of Steel Oats. But what does it do to the nutritional value of the oats? There will be less dietary fibre and a small amount of reduction of the nutrients due to the steaming. You will get the same nutrients just in slightly smaller amounts.

Instant Oats

With instant oats the oats are cut down into smaller pieces before steaming and pressing like rolled oats. The smaller size means much quicker cooking times although the texture may or may not be to your liking. Like rolled oats there is a certain amount of reduction in nutrients, but a much quicker cooking time.


Decision time

So, we have three lots of oats in different packages next to each other on the shelf. Which do you pick? Perhaps you pick the steel cut because frankly you can’t stand the idea of having less nutrients than should be in there. That would be the choice for you if you are prepared to wait another 15 minutes every time you cook them, because nutrition is more important to you than anything else.

Why might you pick the rolled oats over the instant oats? The advantage of the instant oats is clearly the very reduced cooking time. If you are someone who is always in a hurry, extremely busy or who just is plain impatient, then the ease and regularity of the instant oats is the choice for you.

If you are someone who doesn’t a slight reduction in nutritional amounts, favours a reduced cooking time, but does not like the texture of instant oats, then rolled oats are your perfect choice.

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