Sprouted grain bread is made from whole grains that have begun to sprout, or germinate.
However, what you might think of as a grain is really a seed. With proper moisture and warmth, whole grain seeds begin to sprout into a plant.
The sprouting process offers several nutrition benefits, compared to breads made from unsprouted grains or grain flours.
In fact, sprouting changes the nutritional profile of the grains, making their nutrients more readily available and possibly easier to digest.
Here are 7 benefits of sprouted grain bread.
Bread is typically made from flour, or ground grains.
While whole-grain breads include the whole grain, white breads contain only part of the grain. The majority of the beneficial nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins and minerals, are removed during processing.
As a result, sprouted grain breads are nutritionally similar to breads made using whole-grain flours in that they use the entire grain.
Both types of bread are superior to breads made from processed flours.
They’re both naturally higher in fiber and nutrients, but additionally, sprouted grain breads often include a variety of whole grains and legumes.
This type of bread thus offers you a broader range of nutrients than bread made from whole wheat alone.
Furthermore, combining grains with legumes makes the protein in sprouted grain bread complete, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids. It’s also easier for your body to use.
Sprouting partially breaks down the starch in the grains, which lowers the carb content.
One study found that sprouted grain bread had the lowest available carbs, with 34 grams in a 4-ounce (110-gram) serving, compared to 44 grams in a 12-grain bread.
What’s more, due to its lower carb and higher fiber content, sprouted grain bread had the lowest glycemic index, compared to 11-grain, 12-grain, sourdough or white bread. (Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a food raises your blood sugar.) For this reason, sprouted grain bread is an especially good choice for people with diabetes or high blood sugar.
In addition, the grains absorb water during the sprouting process, making sprouted grains lower in calories than whole-grain flours.
Substituting sprouted grain bread for other types of bread could thus help you lose weight.
The sprouting process produces more of these nutrients and also removes antinutrients, which are substances that block the absorption of nutrients.
Sprouting Increases Nutrients
Sprouting increases amino acids in the grains. This makes sprouted grain bread higher in protein compared to whole-grain bread.
Sprouted grain bread has an increased amount of grams in protein compared with even regular whole grain breads.
Sprouted grain bread also contains more fiber than other breads naturally.
What’s more, the sprouting process also leads to an increase in several key vitamins.
Studies have shown that using 50% sprouted wheat flour in pita bread can cause its folate content to go up by over 160%.
Sprouting also increases the antioxidants vitamins C and E, as well as beta-carotene.
Sprouting Decreases Antinutrients
In addition to increasing nutrients, sprouting also decreases antinutrients.
Antinutrients are substances naturally found in plants. Some bind nutrients, making them resistant to digestion, while others inhibit digestive enzymes and reduce nutrient absorption.
Though cooking increases the digestibility of most grains and legumes, it does not eliminate all antinutrients.
Phytic acid is an antinutrient that remains after cooking. It blocks the absorption of calcium, iron and zinc.
Sprouting grains and legumes significantly decreases their phytic acid content, which improves iron absorption by up to 50%.
In one study, sprouting wheat increased the absorption of iron by over 200%.
Studies have shown that sprouting whole grains is linked to better digestibility.
The sprouting process breaks down starch in the grains, making them easier to digest, as they’re already partially pre-digested.
What’s more, they’re higher in enzymes than unsprouted grains, which help your body digest the food you eat. In particular, the enzymes phytase and amylase increase during sprouting.
However, these enzymes may become deactivated during a high-heat baking process. Therefore, some sprouted breads are cooked at lower temperatures to preserve these enzymes.
Another substance that affects digestibility is a compound called lectin. Lectins are part of a plant’s defense mechanism.
Grains are typically high in lectins, which have been linked to leaky gut, chronic inflammation and autoimmune disease.
As a seed sprouts, the plant metabolizes lectins. Therefore, sprouted grains may be lower in lectins compared to their unsprouted counterparts. One study found that lectin levels in wheat decreased by about 50% after 34 days of sprouting.
Gluten is the sticky protein found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt that is responsible for the chewy texture of bread.
Sprouting has been shown to decrease gluten content in wheat by up to 47%, which may make sprouted grains easier to tolerate.
However, sprouting does not entirely eliminate gluten. If you have celiac disease or a true gluten allergy, you should avoid sprouted grains that contain gluten.
Sprouting grains increases several antioxidants, including vitamins C and E and beta-carotene.
Antioxidants are chemical compounds that help protect your cells from damage by counteracting free radicals, harmful molecules that lead to oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress has been linked to several chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Diets high in antioxidants may help protect against these diseases.
One study showed that sprouting amaranth for 78 hours increased antioxidant activity by 300–470%, levels of specific antioxidant groups called flavonoids by 213% and phenols by 829%.
A similar study on millet showed that sprouting increased levels of flavonoids and phenols as well.
Swapping sprouted grain bread for regular bread is an easy way to get more antioxidants from your diet.
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Sprouted grain breads and whole-grain breads are both better choices than white breads made from processed flours.
However, sprouted grain bread has some advantages over other whole-grain breads.
It’s lower in carbs, higher in protein and fiber and may be easier to digest.
Sprouted grain bread is also lower in gluten and antinutrients and has a lower glycemic index compared to regular breads.
With all of its potential benefits, consider using sprouted grain bread to replace at least some of your daily grain intake.