Food Trends: What are Sprouted Grains

There are so many food trends out there, it can be hard to keep up with which ones are worth trying out and which ones should be passed up. Have you heard of sprouted grains? Ezekiel bread? Well, sprouted grains are not really new, though they have gained popularity due to their potential health benefits. Today we are discussing what they are and if you should be making the switch to sprouted!

sprouted grain collage

What are sprouted grains?

Sprouted grains are a result of whole grains being soaked in water until they grow a sprout. During this process, the grain will digest a portion of the starch in the grain, thereby reducing the percentage of starch and increasing the percentage of vitamins and minerals in the grain. Studies also show some minerals, including zinc and iron, become more bioavailable (i.e. usable by the body) when grains are sprouted.  Additionally, the starch portion of the grain can be difficult to digest, causing discomfort in those with more sensitive stomachs.  For example, legumes are traditionally known as gas producing foods. Sprouted legumes may be moreeasily digested as the starch content is decreased in the sprouting process, thereby reducing the amount of hard to digest starch.

sprouted grain

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Another health claim about sprouted grains is increased enzyme activity, leading to greater bioavailability and digestibility, though the difference is relatively small when compared to unsupported grains. One enzyme in particular, Phytase, is responsible for breaking down phytic acid- a compound that binds with minerals. Therefore, more phytase decreases phytic acid, which allows for more absorption of those minerals that would otherwise be bound to phytic acid.

Are they nutritionally superior to conventional grains?

Slightly, though research does not fully validate many of the health claims made about sprouted grains. The increased bioavailability of certain minerals may serve to be nutritionally superior for vegetarians- as meeting iron requirements can be challenging if not consuming animal protein. Sprouted legumes may be digested more easily, making them a better choice for any one with digestive discomfort.

Sprouted grains are whole grain products, which in themselves are much more healthy than refined grains- think bleached, processed grains. The whole grain is used in making the product, providing optimal nutrition.

grain

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Often times, sprouted wheat bread is mistakenly considered to be gluten free. Some products may be gluten free, however, the term “sprouted” does not make a product gluten free.

Should you make the switch?

Personally, I started buying sprouted grain products as they don’t contain any added sugar and are lower in salt content.  They have a different taste, more nutty, than traditional bread. Sprouted wheat bread is also significantly more dense and hearty than regular bread, therefore I find it more enjoyable when toasted or warmed.

If you have any immune conditions- transplant, pregnancy etc- Beware of raw, sprouted products as they can pose a health risk to at risk populations. The process in which sprouted grains are made is a warm, moist environment- which also happens to be the perfect environment for bacteria to grow!

Sprouted grain products are sometimes said to be “alive”, so keeping them in the freezer will maximize their shelf life.  You wont find many sprouted wheat products in the regular bread aisle for this reason, be sure to check the freezer section if you’re interested in making the switch!

Some of my favorite sprouted grain products are Ezekiel bread and english muffins. For you Houston locals, Central Market makes a great sprouted grain bread, which you can find in the freezer section.

Ezekiel bread

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So tell us, do you buy sprouted wheat bread?

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