The Benefits of Sprouted Grains
The beauty of sprouted whole grain flour is that it makes available more vital nutrients than un-sprouted flour. The major benefit is that those nutrients are in a state that can more readily be absorbed and digested by the body.
Grains are seeds. Un-sprouted seeds hold the nutrients, vitamins and minerals in a dormant state. The germ portion of the seed contains all the genetic information to turn that seed into a full-grown plant, as well as the enzymes necessary for sprouting. When the grain cell germinates, or sprouts, that genetic information ignites, and the resulting amylase activity, or enzymatic action, ultimately results in plant growth. During the sprouting process, the starch molecules, or complex carbohydrates, are broken down into smaller parts, referred to as simple sugars. Simple sugars are the building blocks that make up complex carbohydrates but in a form that the body absorbs more easily. The body recognizes and readily digests simple sugars for quick energy, as opposed to starches that can be stored as fat. The grain sprouts, transforming itself into a plant, and we know that plants consist primarily of simple sugars that easily digest in the body in the form of vegetables.
Un-sprouted whole grains are storage cells. The whole kernel of grain stores vital nutrients that are not in a form that the body can absorb as well as when the grain is sprouted. Milling un-sprouted whole grains merely grinds the storage cell. No matter how fine or coarse the grind, it remains in the completely un-sprouted dried seed state. Grinding or milling a whole grain does not change its properties. However, sprouting does!
Sprouting naturally manufactures vitamin C, increases vitamin B content and carotene levels and aids the body’s absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. The nutritional components of sprouting are succinctly explained by Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions (New Trends Publishing, 1999) and the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Phytic acid, an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound, is present in the outer, or bran, layer of whole grain. Phytic acid, an enzyme inhibitor, can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. Sprouted grains contain enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms that break down and neutralize phytic acid, allowing the body to better absorb the nutrients. The enzyme activity and lactobacilli growth that occurs when grains sprout therefore aid in digestion.
Whole wheat baked goods have a reputation for tasting bitter, even though most contain only a small percentage of whole grains. The sprouting process results in amazingly tasty flour that is mild and full of flavor, with no bitterness.
(This copy is an excerpt from Essential Eating: Sprouted Baking, by Janie Quinn, published by Azure Moon Publishing)
More Published Sprouted Benefits
When grains are sprouted they are converted into a raw, living food with more vital nutrients which are more readily absorbed by the body. Sprouted flours are digested by the body as a vegetable not as a starch.
When grains are sprouted, enzymes are created that aid digestion. Complex sugars are also broken down and as a result, painful intestinal gases and potent carcinogens and enzyme inhibitors are neutralized. This is especially beneficial for those people with intolerances to wheat as they often discover that they can digest sprouted grains without any problem. Grains are normally digested as starches using pancreatic enzymes but when grains are sprouted the starch molecules are changed into vegetable sugars which the body then digests as a vegetable.
According to research done by the University of Minnesota, sprouting increases the total nutrient density.
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin) increase of 28%
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) increase of 315%
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) increase of 66%
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic) increase of 65%
- Biotin increase of 111%
- Folic Acid increase of 278%
- Vitamin C increase of 300%
These studies also demonstrated a significant increase in various enzymes including amylase, lipase and Protease.
Sprouting grains also helps with the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc as reported by the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation.
You can use sprouted flour the same as you would use un-sprouted flour, cup for cup.
Sprouted spelt, which is a wheat variety, contains less gluten than all other wheat varieties. Spelt grain has a hard outer hull which allows it to develop into a delicate water-soluble kernel so the nutrients from this grain are more easily absorbed in the body during digestion, making spelt consumable by most people with wheat sensitivities. Spelt does not rise as high as other wheat varieties due to the low gluten content.
Sprouted flours should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place in an airtight container and is best consumed within 24 months. The freshness can be extended by at least 6 months in the refrigerator and another 6 months in the freezer.