What is the Difference Between Wheat Germ and Wheat Bran

The bran and the germ are healthy parts of a wheat grain. They are highly nutritious and contain significant amount of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Read the following Buzzle article to know the difference between wheat germ and wheat bran.
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Wheat grain anatomy
Did You Know?
Sprinkling raw wheat germ on salads and cereals, or mixing it with yogurt, is an easy way to reap its nutritional benefits.
An unprocessed wheat grain contains 3 main parts: The bran, endosperm, and the wheat germ. All three are nutritious and can have a huge impact on your overall health. However, the processing of wheat into flour removes both bran and germ, thereby depleting 25% of protein content in the grain.

Moreover, at least 17 nutrients are removed during this processing. However, the whole grain is packed with nutrients as it contains both bran and germ. Through this Buzzle article we shall delve deeper into the differences between these grain parts, and take a look at their benefits too.

Wheat Germ vs. Wheat Bran

What is It?
Although the term 'wheat germ' may suggest some kind of bacteria or germ in the grain, it actually indicates the reproductive component of the grain from where the wheat grass will sprout. The term 'germ' is derived from 'germinate', the portion from where the seed begins to grow and sprouts. Simply put, it is the component of the wheat that germinates and develops into a new plant.
Wheat bran is the tough outer shell of the wheat grain that is particularly found to be a good source of insoluble fiber. It is this multi-layered hard outer coating of the grain that conceals the endosperm, the middle layer of the grain that supplies essential nutrients to the germ. The endosperm is a major part of the grain that is encased within the bran. In terms of vitamins and minerals, the endosperm is not as nutritious as the germ or the bran.

Nutritional Value

Both wheat germ and wheat bran are considered good for health, and provide a good dose of nutrition. However, they differ slightly in nutritional values as discussed below.

Vitamins
The germ as well as the bran are good sources of B vitamins. However, an ounce of germ contains more thiamin (0.5 mg) and folate (78.7 mcg) than observed in the same amount of bran. An ounce of germ delivers only 1.9 mg of niacin, and while it has a high content of B vitamins, it does not contain vitamins E and K.
An ounce of bran delivers around 3.8 mg niacin, which is around 19% of the recommended daily value. The fat-soluble vitamins E and K are present in wheat bran, albeit in lesser amounts. When it comes to niacin, wheat bran is the clear winner.

Minerals
As far as minerals are concerned, both wheat germ and wheat bran are bursting with nutrition. An ounce of germ contains 66.9 mg of magnesium. It also contains small amounts of phosphorus and potassium.
An ounce of bran has a whopping 171 mg of magnesium, which is equivalent to 43% of the daily requirement value. Moreover, phosphorus and potassium content in an ounce of bran is also higher than that found in the same amount of germ. When comparing the mineral density between the two parts of the grain, wheat bran wins hands down.

Healthy Fats
While the wheat grain has omega-3s, most of it―around 202 mg―is present in the germ, the innermost part of the grain.
An ounce of wheat bran contains only 46.8 mg of omega-3s.

Fiber
Although whole grains are a good source of insoluble and soluble fiber, most of it is present in the wheat bran. An ounce of wheat germ has a paltry 4 g of dietary fiber.
Insoluble fiber content is found to be highest in the outer bran. Just an ounce of wheat bran contains a whopping 12 g of dietary fiber, 48% of the daily requirement value.

On the whole, wheat bran as well as germ are high in nutrition. These edible parts of the grain certainly deserve to be included in your diet. So, try to avoid refined grain products and focus more on eating foods high in whole grains.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.
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Published: June 9, 2014
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