Are Sprouted Grains Healthier Than Whole Grains?

are sprouted grains healthier than whole grains

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that whole grains are healthier than “white” or refined grains. But what about the new kids on the block … sprouted grains? Well, they actually aren’t so new – but they’ve made their way from health food stores to mainstream supermarkets. Breads, chips, crackers, snack bars and even waffles all containing sprouted grains. So what’s the deal with sprouted grains? Are they nutritionally superior to whole grains and are they worth the hefty price?  pic credit 

Food for Life sprouted grain bread

What are sprouted grains?

Grains used for sprouting include wheat, barley, corn and rice to name a few.  You may also encounter sprouted  beans and seeds. Before you start to envision little sprouts growing out of your cracker box, let’s review what they are …
Made from whole grains, sprouted grains technically are seeds are soaked and left to germinate in a highly controlled environment.  There is a brief period in the life cycle of a grain or seed—right after it has started to sprout, but before it has developed into a full-fledged plant—when it’s considered to be a “sprouted grain.” The outer bran layer will have split open, and the beginnings of a young shoot may be visibly peeking out of the grain. In this stage, some of the starchy portion of the grain will have been digested by the young shoot to fuel its awakening.  This is something that sets sprouted grains apart – that some of the carbohydrates present in the grain are used as energy to grow the new sprout, leaving a higher concentration of protein and other nutrients. It’s believed that the enzymes activated to break down the grain’s starchy core yield an easier-to-digest grain and greater nutrient accessibility.

 

Health benefits of sprouted grains

 

Because sprouted grains are whole grains, they contain more nutrients than refined grains. The nutritional benefits depend on the type of grain being used for sprouting. For example, sprouted barley has different health benefits from sprouted corn. Research is limited on the nutritional benefits of sprouted versus non-sprouted whole grains.

sprouted grains

However studies suggest they may be more nutritious. Benefits MAY include:

– Reduced phytic acid, a compound that binds minerals in grains. This enables nutrients such as zinc and iron become more available. The sprouting process apparently increases the amount and bio-availability of some
vitamins (notably Vitamin C) and minerals, making sprouted grains a potential nutrition powerhouse.
– Easier digestibility
– Reduced cardiovascular risk and better blood lipid profiles.
– Sprouted brown rice may fight diabetes
– Sprouted buckwheat may protect against fatty liver disease
-Decreased blood pressure linked to sprouted barley.

Read more studies on nutritional benefits of sprouted grains  here.

 

Food for thought

 

If you are watching your carbs, keep in mind that sprouted grains have a comparable amount of carbs compare to non-sprouted whole grains. For example, one slice of  both whole grain and sprouted whole grain bread have 15 gm of carbs.

Sprouted grains are not necessarily gluten free. While there are some sprouted grains that are made from gluten free grains like sprouted corn, amaranth and millet,  check labels for the Certified Gluten Free label if you have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive.

Read the label for all the ingredients. Just because a product contains sprouted grains doesn’t mean all the ingredients are healthy. That being said, most of the sprouted grain products I’ve seen contain very healthy ingredients.Way Better Multigrain Corn Tortilla Chips

Beware of confusing claims on some sprouted grain products. I found this one on a food label – “Plants digest in the body as vegetables and are some of the easiest foods to digest”. Sprouted grains are still a grain – not a vegetable!

 

Some of my favorite sprouted grain products:

 

Way Better Snacks. These products are great! Super healthy ingredients.
Examples:
Way Better Multigrain Corn Tortilla Chips – this is one of my favorites. They come in a lot of other flavors.  Ingredients: Stone Ground Non-GMO Whole Corn, Sunflower and/or Safflower Oil, Sprouted Seed and Grain Blend (Sprouted Flax Seed, Sprouted Quinoa, Sprouted Chia Seed, Sprouted Broccoli Seed, Sprouting Daikon Radish Seed), Pure Sea Salt.    Serving size: 9 chips, 130 cal, 7 gm fat, 15 gm carbs, 3 gm fiber

Sprouted Barley Crackers Black Bean & Salsa flavor   Ingredients: Sprouted Barley Flour, Spelt Flour, Farro Flour, High Oleic Sunflower Oil, Sprouted Black Bean Flour, Seasoning, Way Better Sprouted Black Bean & Salsa Barley CrackersTapioca Starch, Sprouted Flax, Baking Soda, Rosemary Extract.  Serving size: 13 crackers, 110 cal, 4.5 gm fat, 15 gm carbs, 4 gm fiber

Food for Life bread, waffles, English muffins, cereals, and more. These products also contain very healthy ingredients.

Ezekiel 4:9 Flax Sprouted Whole Grain Bread.  Ingredients: Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Sprouted Flax, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Fresh Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt. Rolled in Organic Flax Seeds    Serving size: 1 slice, 80 cal, 1 gm fat, 14 gm carbs, 4 gm fiber, 5 gm protein

Sprouted Grain Golden Flax Waffles. I’m not a huge waffle fan – you can’t beat these ingredients. Ingredients: Organic Sprouted Wheat, Filtered Water, Organic Sprouted Flax Seeds, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Chia Seeds, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Vanilla, Organic Mesquite Bean Pods, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Organic Nopal Cactus, Sea Salt, Organic Annato Seeds    Serving size: 2 waffles, 240 cal, 6 gm fat, 37 gm carbs, 9 gm fiber, 10 gm protein

 

Bottom line: So are sprouted grains more nutritional than whole grains?

 

If you like the taste of sprouted grains – which I do – they can be a nutritious choice and well worth the extra money. Some products need to be refrigerated so be sure to check the label for storage directions. But keep in mind that while research is suggesting they may be more nutritious than other non-sprouted grains, it’s not 100% proven that they live up to all the claims found on some internet site. My overall opinion: thumbs up!


References:

1.  Whole Grains Council – Sprouted Grains 
2. Are Sprouted Grains Ready for the Limelight) Food & Nutrition Magazine
3
Whole Grains: Sprouted Grains – Today’s Dietitian
4
. What are Sprouted Grains?

 

 

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