Healthy eating is a lifestyle: you start eating wholesome and healthy foods while also informing yourself on several things about organic food items and how they are grown. You start skimming down the list of ingredients in various packaged foods, such as bread. Of the numerous healthy items you can include in your diet is sprouted grains. You must have seen it listed in your bread package as an ingredient. So, what are they?
What are Sprouted Grains?
Offering similar gut-supportive health benefits among many types of grains, the sprouted grains are seeds. They are the same as whole grains but differ only in the process of harvesting. They are forced to germinate and are consumed before the process of new plants emerging can even start.
According to Mark E. Sorrells – who is a professor of plant breeding at Cornell University – the process of forced germination of the whole grains and their consumption increases the nutritional benefits. The sprouted grains are gut-friendly as they have various compounds in them, such as endosperm, starches, and phytates. These allow and facilitate increased absorption of nutrients from the grains into our bodies.
How is the Sprouting Process Carried Out?
For obtaining sprouting grains, the first step is to soak the seeds in water. This enhances the level of water in the grains and helps break the outer covering of the seeds. These soaked grains are also consumed in numerous regions of the world. Water is then drained out of these seeds, followed by rinsing the seeds.
The most critical step of this process is to encourage the growth of sprouts – which is then carried out by keeping the soaked and rinsed seeds moist for a long time. This process takes a number of days, varying from one grain to another. It is claimed that the sprouting process might have been discovered accidentally due to the elongated storing process.
The Nutritional Perspective of Sprouting
It is claimed that by soaking and sprouting the grains, the deactivation of a compound called phytic acid occurs. This process helps slow down the absorption of calcium and iron in the digestive tract – which eventually aids in speeding up the process of digestion of other essential minerals and nutrients in the body. This is the reason why sprouted grains promote healthy digestion.
Moreover, it is said that this process of forced germination of the seeds and their consumption enhances the proportions of various nutrients in the grains, such as vitamins B and C, and amino acids. According to Monica Reinagel, a nutritionist running a successful podcast by the name Nutrition Diva, sprouted grains have a different chemical composition than the whole grains. Sprouted grains make it easier to digest calcium and iron.
Reinagel also advises that to achieve maximum benefits out of the sprouted grains, it is necessary that you consume it raw or very slightly cooked. She considers every step in cooking a gradual loss of a tad bit of nutrition.
Health Benefits of Sprouted Grains
1. Good for Digestion
The sprouting process of the grains helps in increasing the activity of the living enzymes in the grains. These enzymes are quite beneficial for boosting our metabolism, as well as for the chemical reactions taking place inside our bodies. The enhanced nutritional capabilities of the sprouted grains also aid in enhancing the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract.
Moreover, whole grains are rich in dietary fiber, which is an essential nutrient for promoting a healthy stomach and relieving constipation. Fiber also helps in slowing down the digestion process, which helps in keeping you satiated for a long time.
2. Combats and Prevents Diabetes
A 2008 research study in Japan deduced that consuming brown rice as compared to the white variety helped improve the levels of triacylglycerol, total serum cholesterol, and glucose in the blood. The research was carried out on both men and women, who had type-2 diabetes. They were randomly assigned to a white or brown rice group.
This research stands as convincing evidence that sprouted whole grains are effective in combating diabetes. The fiber in the grains slows down the digestion process by being converted into a gel-like substance. This is crucial for further slowing down the absorption of fats and sugar content by the body; thus, preventing sudden peaks in blood glucose levels.
3. Possibly Prevents from Fatty Liver Disease
Similar to alcohol-induced cirrhosis, fatty liver disease is life-threatening. It is mostly paired with type-2 diabetes, causing more of havoc in the body and rendering it to a more vulnerable state. Research in Korea found out that consuming sprouted grains, such as buckwheat sprouted, decreased the fatty liver.
These results were deduced from an animal study but held significant potential for human health. The sprouted buckwheat contained nutrition that improved the levels of rutin and quercetin. Both of these compounds are effective for significantly reducing inflammation in our bodies.
4. Fights Various Allergens
Nutritionists and scientists claim that the composition of grains after sprouting contains increased amounts of protease (an enzyme) activity. The activity of this enzyme is increased during the process of germination, which further helps in lowering the levels of allergens present in the grains.
Food Safety Issues
Along with all the benefits related to sprouting the grains, there are some food safety issues as well. The fact that the warmth and humidity required for the forced germination or sprouting of the seeds is also quite welcoming to the bacterial growth is very concerning. If exposed to bacterial growth while sprouting, the bacteria can multiply in no time and make the grains unhealthy.
It is, therefore, advised that sprouted grains should be fully cooked for children, elderly, expecting moms, and for people with a compromised immune system. Also, it is strictly advised that raw sprouted grains should be refrigerated for storing purposes.
One of the best ways to incorporate this highly nutritious and healthy food item in your diet is to switch to sprouted grain bread. It is a great way to start the day and achieve all the milestones you have set throughout your day. You can also sprout your own choice of grains, as it is an easy process to follow. However, you have to be cautious of the bacterial growth and do not let your sprouted grains go waste.