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What are sprouted grains?
Sprouted grains are simply whole grains that are at the beginning stages of sprouting / germination. This is usually done in a controlled environment where proper moisture and warmth is provided to the grains. There are indeed inherent health benefits that foods made from sprouted grains have as compared to those made from whole grains. We will list out a few of these advantages here.
Top 5 reasons why sprouted grains are better
1. Enhanced nutritional values
Naturally occurring compounds know as anti nutrients such as phytates, trypsin inhibitors, tannins that exist in whole grains and seeds. These antinutrients make it harder for our digestive system to effectively unlock and absorb the nutrients available in grains and seeds.
However, the sprouting process changes this. Sprouting disengages these antinutrients by breaking them down, allowing the body to absorb the minerals and vitamins more easily.
Additionally, sprouting raises the nutritional profile of whole grains, such as increasing the amount of vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and polyphenol content (1).
2. Lower Carbohydrate Content for weight and blood sugar management
The starch in grains are broken down by the sprouting process, thereby lowering the grains’ carbohydrate content.
A study showed that bread made from sprouted grains have the lowest overall carbohydrate content as compared to 12 grain bread. The same study also showed that sprouted grain bread, which had lower carbs and higher fiber, scored a lower glycemic index and compared to other whole grain / refined grain breads (2). The lower GI index helps in preventing sharp blood sugar spikes which may be beneficial for those who have or are at risk of diabetes.
With lower carbohydrates and higher fiber, this may also help those who seek to lose weight by helping them stay fuller after consuming sprouted grain based foods (3).
3. Easier to digest
There are enzymes being activated through the sprouting process. In sprouted grains, enzymes such as amylase and protease break down starch and protein into simpler forms for easier digestion (1).
Lectin is another compound that impedes digestion and has been associated with leaky gut, chronic inflammation and autoimmune disease. Grains contain higher amounts of Lectins and substantially reduced during the sprouting process. A study showed that lectin levels were brought down as much as 50% after more than 30 days of sprouting (3).
4. Antioxidative Benefits
Antioxidants help to protect our cells from free radical damage, cushioning our body from oxidative stress. This in turn helps to better prevent the onset of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer.
Sprouted grains offer elevated amounts of antioxidants which includes, Vitamin C and E and also Beta-carotene (4).
One study showed that sprouting amaranth saw an increase in antioxidative activity by up to 470%! (5) And anther study showed that sprouting millet had elevated levels of flavonoids and phenols (6).
Where to find sprouted grains products?
The most common product made from sprouted grains will be bread. Look for those that specifically indicate that they are made from sprouted grains, and try to swap them from your regular white or wholegrain bread to see if the taste and consistency fits your palate.
Snacks such as sprouted grain cookies, pretzels and cereals are also available but easier to purchase from online stores.
Raw sprouted grains can serve as healthier options to replace your regular white rice or wholegrain consumption. Ingredients such as sprouted grain flour are great alternatives in pastry making as well.
By : Alvin Ho
B (Eng), MBA, Certified Allied Healthcare/Fitness Professional (EIMS), Master Fitness Trainer / Fitness Nutrition, Resistance & Endurance Training Specialist (NFPT)