What’s the Deal with Sprouted Grain Bread?
Grains have been a staple of pretty much every culture’s diet for thousands of years. They are the ingredient that gives way to the vast diversity of bread items we see around the world. But have you ever heard of sprouted grain bread? There’s a good chance you have as they have grown in popularity over the past several years among consumers. Here we will examine what sprouted grains are, how they differ from normal whole and refined grains, and if we should we be consuming more of them.
What are sprouted grains?
Sprouted grain bread, like whole grain bread, uses the entire grain kernel during processing. A grain kernel contains 3 parts, the bran, endosperm, and the germ. Each part of kernel provides different nutrients.
Bran: the external “shell” that is high in fiber, B vitamins, and minerals.
Endosperm: the starchy portion that is high in simple carbohydrate and contains some protein.
Germ: the interior portion that contains both fat and phytochemicals.
Refined grains, which are used to make typical white breads, remove both the bran and germ, leaving just the endosperm and resulting in a less nutritious bread. With sprouted grains, a whole grain kernel is soaked in water for approximately 48 hours, allowing for a sprout to occur. This initiates what is called the germination process.
Reasons to consider sprouted grains
The sprouting process increases the nutritional density of whole grains. During germination, inherent enzymes are activated. Starchy portions of the kernel are broken down by the enzymes during the sprouting process allowing for easier digestion. Persons who may have sensitivity to grains, and/or gluten may be able to better tolerate sprouted grains.
Sprouting also increases the bioavailability of several vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, zinc, iron, and magnesium. Another benefit of sprouting is the reduction of phytic acid, a natural compound found in grains. Phytic acid competes with other nutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals) for absorption. Reductions of phytic acid allows for more uptake of vitamins and minerals.
Sources of and nutrient profile of sprouted grains
There are several types of grains that can undergo the sprouting process besides wheat. These grains include barley, millet, rice, and spelt. Legumes, such as lentils and soybeans can also be sprouted.
As mentioned, sprouted grains are typically more nutrient dense than unsprouted grains. Some of the nutrient benefits include:
Increased amounts of soluble fiber
Increased amounts of protein
Decreased amounts of gluten
Lower glycemic index (i.e. lower blood sugar response)
Higher in vitamin and mineral content
Higher concentration of antioxidants
What’s the science saying?
A 2012 study showed that sprouted grains contain higher amounts of fiber, more free amino acids, and higher content of antioxidants than that of unsprouted wheat.
Research done in 2008 was able to show that a diet high in sprouted grains helped persons with Type 2 Diabetes Miletus and high cholesterol improve both fasting blood glucose and LDL cholesterol levels.
Sprouted grains may support the immune system by increasing bioavailability of vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene.
If you are looking for a more nutritious bread, give sprouted grain bread a try. There are several brands out there making high quality sprouted breads. Some brands include:
Learn more about healthy eating and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Nick Farrell, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern