Just like fashion and decorating styles come and go, so do the latest food trends. Greek yogurt is a prime example of a popular nutrition sensation that has recently saturated the grocery market. Quinoa is another product gaining more attention. The question for the consumer then becomes, which of these trends are healthful and worth following?
As an athlete, I try to eat as few processed foods as possible in favor of more natural, whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. I do this to avoid many of the fake additives and excess sugar in many processed foods, but also because whole foods are so much more nutrient dense than their factory-produced counterparts. I want to perform at my best, so it makes sense to put the best fuel in my body that I can! In this pursuit, I recently discovered Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grains. The company makes cereals, pasta, bread, buns, tortillas, croutons, vegan meats, pitas, english muffins, and soon waffles. The ingredient list is short and simple including: Organic Sprouted Wheat, Organic Sprouted Barley, Organic Sprouted Millet, Organic Malted Barley, Organic Sprouted Lentils, Organic Sprouted Soybeans, Organic Sprouted Spelt, Filtered Water, Fresh Yeast, Organic Wheat Gluten, and Sea Salt.
Reading this list leaves many consumers wondering, what is a sprouted grain?? Grains such as corn, wheat, rice, oats, and barley are actually the mature, dormant seeds of cereal grasses. Given the ideal temperature and moisture conditions, the seeds will germinate and begin to grow. A grain is considered to be a sprouted grain for the short window of time right after it has sprouted, but well before it has grown into a full-fledged plant. At this stage the outer bran shell breaks apart, and a young sprout may peek out. The majority of the nutritional differences between sprouted and conventional (ungerminated) grains comes from the loss of some of the starchy portion of the plant, which the young sprout uses to fuel its growth.
By decreasing the starch content of the grain, the presence of vitamins, minerals, and protein increases slightly as a percentage of total weight. Compounds called phytates also decrease in concentration as a result of the sprouting process. Phytates commonly inhibit mineral absorption from plant sources, so reducing their concentration may make some minerals, such as iron and zinc, more bioavailable, or easily absorbed. Vegetarians who do not acquire these minerals from animal sources may especially appreciate sprouted grains for this reason.
Emerging studies indicate that sprouting greatly increases nutrient density by 2-4x the amount found in conventional grains on a calorie-per-calorie basis. Sprouting yields higher concentrations of B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, fiber, and essential amino acids. An added benefit may also be protection against disease including diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
For some individuals with grain protein sensitivities/allergies, sprouted grains that lack the starchy portion of the grain may be easier to tolerate and digest, or relieve uncomfortable bloating.
I have only tried Ezekiel 4:9, but other companies that make sprouted grain products include TruRoots, Arrowhead Mills, Alvarado Street Bakery, Silverhills Bakery, Sun Valley Rice, Shiloh Farms, and Way Better Snacks. If you try them email me and let me know what you think! firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information and recipes check out the Whole Grains Council’s website here.