Sprouted Grains: What’s With All the Hype?

Bread may have just gotten a makeover — and a wholesome one at that. We’re talking about a new genre of baked goods — pizza crusts, bread, pastries and more made — from sprouted grains — the germinated, or budded, seeds of wheat, rye and the like.

Sprouted grains rank as one of 2017’s top food trends, but are these little pre-seedlings really worth the hype? And are they really healthier than non-sprouted seeds? Maybe so, but only slightly. To understand why, let’s start at the beginning.

What Is a Sprouted Grain?

Usually, grains made into flour are harvested before they sprout, but millers can make flour from the sprouted seeds the same way they do with un-sprouted seeds. Much like a bean, if given the chance (and warm, wet conditions), grain seeds can sprout even after harvest.

What’s the Nutritional Benefit?

Sprouted grains typically contain less starch because the seeds break down starches in order to get out their seedlings. Although this is just a byproduct of germination, there are benefits to these less starchy and potentially more digestible grain products.

The resulting sprouted grain retains more of its nutrients — like protein, fiber, potassium, folate and antioxidants — but only slightly. For example, 100 grams of wheat bread contains 141 milligrams of potassium, versus 198 mg from the same serving of sprouted wheat bread. Plus, sprouted grains may even have a lower glycemic index score, meaning they don’t raise your blood sugar as much as un-sprouted grains.

Beware of Bacteria Risks

Unfortunately, the same process that sparks the growth of sprouts (think moist, balmy environments) also makes for prime bacteria-growing conditions. That’s why it’s important to bake or cook sprouted grain products before eating them and only buy sprouted products from the refrigerated or frozen aisle of the grocery store. Once home, refrigerate sprouted items to avoid the risk of bacteria.

Are They Gluten-Free?

Don’t mistake “easier to digest” as gluten free. Although sprouted grain products may have less gluten than their un-sprouted equivalents, they’re not altogether gluten free. If you have celiac disease, be sure to look for a gluten-free label.

The Verdict

While sprouted grains aren’t a magical pill (or in this case, pastry), the nutritional boosts are enough to consider changing up your shopping list on your next grocery run and maybe subbing in a daily serving or two. When making the switch, keep in mind that sprouted grains may be more expensive than their counterparts.

Just remember: Always read the nutrition label when buying and comparing products, and prevent against bacterial growth by refrigerating your sprouted grain products. It’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor when starting a new nutrition regime. Find a doctor near you to get the conversation started.

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*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

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