As you may have read previously, a whole grain contains three parts – the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. The germ portion of the grain is actually an embryo for the seed, which means when conditions are right, it can grow (or sprout) into a new plant. It is then fed by the starchy portion, the endosperm, and the grain (seed) becomes a new plant, capable of producing more grain seeds!
Proponents of sprouted grains believe that sprouting brings life to the previously dormant seed and makes it easier for our body to digest. When a grain seed sprouts, the enzymes within the seed break down the bran which is the indigestible portion, and make the other nutrients within the seed more available.
The sprouting process may also increase the bio-availability of the vitamins and minerals, specifically B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, fiber, and essential amino acids that grains normally do not have. An example of this would be lysine.
There is also the prospect that people with grain sensitivities (such as gluten or wheat intolerance) could more easily assimilate a sprouted grain product.
There are two approaches for manufacturing sprouted grain products – the dry approach and the wet approach.
The dry approach is when the grains are sprouted then dried. At this point, it can be stored and used later, or ground into flour.
The wet approach is when the sprouted grains are mashed into a thick puree and used immediately to make breads, tortillas, muffins, and other similar products. You may have seen these products referred to as “flourless.”
Some benefits of sprouted grains:
- Sprouted brown rice fights diabetes
- Sprouted buckwheat protects against fatty liver disease
- Cardiovascular risk is reduces by sprouted brown rice
- Sprouted brown rice decreases depression and fatigue in nursing mothers
- Decreased blood pressure is liked to sprouted barley
You could transition into using sprouted grains by using a frozen sprouted grain bread in place of a refined flour bread. You could also seek out sprouted grain pastas and muffins, or make your own bread stuffing or croutons with a sprouted grain bread.
Sprouted grain products may give you the most nutritional bang for your buck.