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Sprouted Grains: What are they and are they more nutritious?

by Okanagan Nutrition
Maybe you’re like me and have been hearing the words “sprouted grains” rolling off of peoples tongues or are seeing them more regularly on food packaging.

I’ve known about the “sprouting” process for a while now, but wanted to learn more about the claims around sprouted grain products being more nutrient dense than their non-sprouted counterparts.

If you’ve heard the same and are interested … keep reading!

We recommend you choose whole grains, like oats, brown or wild rice, bulgur, spelt, quinoa, teff, buckwheat, and whole grain bread products, more often than refined grains or grain products.

Why?

Whole grains are a great source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. We know that choosing whole grains more often than refined grains can help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers.

What is a whole grain anyway?

A grain is considered whole if all three parts of the grain remain intact.

  1. The Bran: The outer most layer of the grain. The bran provides fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, minerals and antioxidants.
  2. The Germ: The part of the grain that is able to sprout into a new plant. The germ provides B vitamins, vitamin E, minerals like zinc and magnesium, protein and healthful fats.
  3. The Endosperm: Is mostly made up of starch and protein to provide nutrients to the germ if sprouting.

What is a refined grain?

A refined grain has one or more of the three parts of the grain (as above), removed.

Generally, it is the bran and/or the germ that are removed.

White breads and white rice are examples of refined grains, as both the bran and the germ have been removed.

Through removing the bran or the germ from the grain, nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals are lost.

Vitamins and minerals are usually added back into the product after the grain has been refined, however fiber is lost. This process is known as enrichment.

Whole-Wheat vs. Whole Grain

Whole-wheat is a type of whole grain.

In Canada, a product can be labelled as being or containing “whole-wheat”, if at least 95% of the original grain is intact (the bran, germ and endosperm).

A product that is labeled as being or containing “whole grain(s)”, means that 100% of the original grain is intact.  

What are sprouted grains?

Sprouted grains are whole grains that have been allowed to sprout. This is done by being exposing the grain to moisture and some heat, allowing for germination.

During germination, the germ “feeds” on the starch and nutrients provided by the endosperm of the grain to sprout into a new plant.

What are the benefits of sprouted grains?

Once the grain begins to sprout, enzymes begin to digest starch, proteins and fat in the endosperm. They also help to significantly decrease anti-nutrient components like phytates.

It is thought that the sprouting of grains improves the digestibility and availability of nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, making them more likely to be absorbed and utilized by the body.

So, should you be eating sprouted grains over whole grains?

Sprouted grains seem to have some nutritional and health benefits, but so does eating whole grains!

Some people much prefer the deeper flavour of sprouted grains and sprouted grain products and some definitely do find they tolerate sprouted grain products better than non-sprouted.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you!

Both whole grains and sprouted grains are an excellent and nutrition filled choice.

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