If you subscribe to Follow Nutrition Tammy you know that I am a fan of sprouted whole grains. Many of my readers have asked questions about sprouted grains and why I prefer them over other grains. These magical little grains pack a powerful nutritional punch and I am delighted to tell you all about them and why I love sprouted whole grains.
Before I explain what a sprouted grain is let’s talk about the anatomy of a whole grain. In order for a food to be labeled “whole grain” it must contain 100% of the original kernel. A whole grain kernel includes the bran, germ, and endosperm. The germ is the plant embryo which feeds on the endosperm as it grows. The bran is the outer layer that protects the seed by locking in its nutrients until it is ready to grow (sprout). The bran and germ contain vitamins, fiber, and health fats and is the most nutritious part of the grain. The endosperm is the starchy, carbohydrate-rich center of the grain.
Under optimal conditions the grain will “sprout” and grow. A sprouted whole grain can be identified by the tail, or sprout, that has started to grow, but just barely. Once this occurs, the grain will be utilized one of two ways: as a wet mash or a dry flour. Wet mash is when the grains are mashed into a puree to make bread, tortillas, and other baked goods. Dry flour is produced when the sprouted grain is dried and either ground into a flour or kept whole to be cooked, such as wild rice. Both wet mash and dry flour retain it’s nutrients making sprouted whole grains a nutrient dense food.
Sprouting unlocks nutrients making them available in the body. A sprouting grain is rich in Vitamin C, Folate, Antioxidants, and Fiber. Sprouted grains contain less insoluble fiber and more soluble fiber making it easy to digest. Sprouted grains also contain less gluten as compared to regular flour. Regular flour, such as All Purpose or Cake Flour, is commonly purchased at the grocery store and used to make bread, pasta, pastries, etc. It is refined and undergoes a process called milling.
During this process, the bran and germ are removed while the endosperm remains. Earlier I mentioned the bran and germ are the most nutritious portion of the grain. Since the bran and germ are removed during the milling process, refined flour has very little nutritional value. In order to make refined process “nutritious”, nutrients such as fiber and folic acid are enriched, or added back. Check out this video to see the milling process. This explains why I choose foods that are not refined, or processed.
There are numerous health benefits and so I have dubbed sprouted whole grains magical grains. Sprouted whole grains contain naturally occurring enzymes. Enzymes facilitate reactions in the body, such as digestion. For example, Amylase is a digestive enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. These naturally occurring enzymes in sprouted whole grains improve digestion; this means less bloating and gas for you. As sprouting begins, these beneficial enzymes are activated making sprouted grains a “living”food. This is a good thing!
Phytic acid is an enzyme inhibitor, also known as a mineral blocker. Phytic acid is found naturally in grains, beans, nuts and seeds and bind to nutrients such as calcium and zinc. The act of sprouting naturally breaks down this nutrient so that you absorb more essential minerals. Magical!
Germination, another word for sprouting from a seed, increases folate. Folate plays numerous roles in the body including the prevention of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. During the milling process, folate is lost and must be enriched. In fact, all grains are fortified or enriched with folate because it is such an important nutrient. So, why wouldn’t you purchase foods that contain folate nutrally…such as sprouted grains!
Lastly, the act of sprouting, or soaking grains, breaks down gluten decreasing the gluten content in sprouted grains. Less gluten also means less bloating and I am all for less bloating! For all my gluten-conscious friends, sprouted grains are for you!
Sprouted whole grains are easier to digest, contain more fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins, and are a living food. Increased fiber helps maintain blood sugar levels making this a perfect food for diabetics. Insoluble fiber is sent to the large intestines to produces the “good” bacteria that enhances the immune system and maintains gut health. Fiber also helps you “go” and we all want to be regular.
To sum it up, sprouted whole grains are nutrient dense, enhances the immune system, maintains blood sugar, and regulates bowel movements. Simply magical! Sprouted whole grains are available in most grocery stores. You won’t find them in the bread isle; instead head over to the freezer section to find a variety of sprouted grain breads. My favorite brand is Food For Life. I love the Ezekiel English Muffins with almond butter and raw local honey.
Give it a try and let me know what you think!