I’ll never forget the first time I heard of Ezekiel bread. It was referred to as “the bread that models eat.” I was pretty young (way before I was in school studying nutrition) and the statement caught my attention as I wondered why models ate a certain kind of bread. The comment was made in passing by someone who had purchased the bread hoping to find better health and a slimmer waistline. I was intrigued, how was this bread different? Lucky for me, I soon realized my Mom occasionally bought Ezekiel bread and was even more intrigued when I read that it was “flourless” on the package. How do you make a bread that is “flourless,” and what does that mean? As it turns out, Ezekiel bread was made of sprouted grains instead of flour. (By the way, this is the first post in a 2 Post Series. Be sure to read post #2 to find the Best Sprouted Grain Bread when you go grocery shopping.)
Sprouted grains have become increasingly popular over the past few years and it’s led to some big questions as to whether they are actually healthier than traditional grains and what the health benefits of sprouted grains are.
What are Sprouted Grains?
Sprouted grains are made from seeds that have just begun to sprout, whereas traditional bread and flour are simply made of the ground seeds. First, here are some answers to your popular questions about sprouted grains:
Are sprouted grains whole grains?
Yes, because it takes the germ, endosperm, and bran for a new plant to sprout, sprouted grains are always whole grains. However, as previously discussed sprouted grains are different than traditional whole grains as the seed has been sprouted, and the sprout is what is used to then make the food product.
How are sprouted grains processed? (Dry vs Wet Method)
It turns out there are two different methods for processing sprouted grains. There is the dry method and the wet method.
Dry Method of Sprouted Grains: In this method, the grain is sprouted and then dried (by a variety of methods including by air, using a dehydrator, or the oven.) As long as the sprouts are dried with a method that does not use a temperature above 113°F, the enzyme activity is maintained. This enzyme activity is where many of the benefits of sprouted grains come into play.
When the sprouts are dried, they can be stored until ready to cook. This is how sprouted grain flour is made by milling the dried sprouts. This flour can then make a variety of sprouted products.
Wet Method of Sprouted Grains: In this method, the wet, sprouted grains are mashed into a puree that is directly made into a variety of products such as bread and tortillas that are often sold frozen and marketed as “flourless.”
Sprouted Grains Benefits
Sprouted grains have a variety of health benefits. Multiple research studies have shown the following health benefits:
- Increased antioxidant activity with an increase in both phenolic and flavonoid content (1, 2, 3). – Antioxidants are those powerhouses that help stop or prevent cell damage.
- Reduced glycemic impact. – Basically, this means that they break down more slowly to prevent a rapid rise and fall in your blood sugar. Some studies have even shown that this can be particularly helpful in fighting diabetes (4, 5).
- Improved absorption of minerals. -Some key nutrients, in particular, include iron, manganese, and calcium (6).
- A potential increase in HDL (good cholesterol) levels. – When studied in rats, sprouted rice actually improved HDL (good cholesterol – the kind you want) as compared to conventional rice (7)!
- An increase in fiber. – On average, research shows American adults are consuming 16 g of fiber per day as compared to 25-30 grams recommended. Studies show sprouted grains often have more fiber than conventional grains.
- Improved digestibility. – The process of sprouting improves digestibility of starch and storage of proteins (8).
- Better health for nursing mothers. – As a nursing mother, I found this fascinating! When divided into two groups, the group that consumed sprouted as opposed to conventional grains showed less depression, fatigue, and improved immune response (9)!
Where to Buy Sprouted Grains
Sprouted grains are becoming more popular all of the time and relatively easy to find even at most conventional grocery stores.
Here are a few places you can find sprouted grains:
- The Freezer Department at Your Local Grocery Chain.
- Foods for Life (Ezekial 4:9) is one of the main brands of sprouted bread and can be found at most large chain grocery stores. It is kept in the freezer department along with a variety of their other products, including sprouted English muffins and sprouted tortillas. Many of their products such as their sprouted bread do not include conventional grains at all, only sprouted. However, there are a few varieties including their hot dog buns and some of the gluten-free products (some are sprouted and some not) that do include grains not sprouted.
- On the Shelf with Other Bread.
- Aldi has a sprouted grain bread that includes 7 sprouted grains that is an economical choice. The sprouted grains are listed first on the ingredients label meaning the bread is weighted more heavily in these ingredients. It’s important to note, however, that conventional whole wheat flour is also included on the label. I would consider this bread to be a good choice, especially for those eating healthy on a budget, as the flour is still comprised of all whole grains. (Be sure to check out my other favorite real food finds at Aldi.)
- Many health food stores may carry their brand or other brands of sprouted bread products including local brands. Read the ingredients label so you know what the bread is primarily composed of.
- Sprouted Grain Flour to Use in Baking
- King Arthur has a sprouted grain flour that you can buy and replace traditional flour in baking! It is made of 100% sprouted white whole wheat.
- Other Sprouted Grain Products to Look For
- You can find sprouted Ezekial 4:9 cereal and pasta at healthy supermarkets, which are composed of sprouted grains.
As sprouted bread becomes more popular, there are various other brands coming to the shelves of popular supermarkets. Read the ingredients to decide which product is the right fit for you and your family!
Examples of Sprouted Grains
There are many different kinds of grains. Any viable seed can be sprouted including:
- whole-grain wheat
You’ll find a variety of these grains making up the products on the shelves when you go to buy sprouted grain foods. Reading the ingredient list can help you decide which product will be a good match for your family!
Choosing Sprouted Grains
All of the reasons why sprouted grains are better for you such as improved digestion increased vitamins, and better absorption of minerals make them a great choice when choosing whole grains. If you haven’t tried sprouted grains before, I challenge you to try them today! And don’t forget to read about specific sprouted grain bread brands before you go shopping!