Sprouted grains are whole-grain seeds that have just begun to sprout. Unlike processed grains, they are extremely rich in nutrition and they provide a valuable part of a healthy diet. But how can they be used?
The Problems with Processed Grains
The health benefits of grains such as wheat and rice are totally dependent on how they are consumed. As the germ and bran are removed, refined, processed grains are now stripped of most of their nutrients. This is done so the grain can be preserved for a longer time. When making or manufacturing white flour, over half of the nutrients, such as vitamins B1, B2, B3, calcium phosphorus, folic acid, copper, zinc, iron, and fibre, are lost.
The consumption of refined, processed grains has negative effects to your health, and they can directly contribute in acquiring health problems which include high cholesterol, obesity, heart disease, stroke, hyperglycaemia, and diabetes. The problems arising from eating refined, processed grains has only been documented in the past one hundred years, but people have known the problem for thousands of years. Traditionally, all grains and seeds, including wheat and rice, were sprouted. Sprouted seeds are found to have as much as ten to twenty times more nutrients than processed seeds. Wheat seeds have been processed and eaten 2000 years ago but this was only during times of famine or by armies that were on the move.
Benefits of Sprouted Grains
After germination, the nutritional content of grains, seeds, and nuts changes and they retain their natural plant enzymes as they are generally not cooked. The enzymes are beneficial in aiding the digestion of the nuts and seeds in the digestive tract. Aside from retaining the enzymes, they also retain their nutrients that would be alternatively destroyed by cooking. Sprouted grains, seeds, and nuts also helps in the growth of good bacteria, helps in keeping the colon clean, and are rich in protective antioxidants.
Aside from being very digestible, sprouts are an excellent source of fibre and protein, and are high in minerals and vitamins. For example, sunflower sprouts are rich in vitamins A and C, while mung bean sprouts are rich in vitamin C, iron, and potassium. Most seeds are rich in phosphorus, which is important in keeping one’s alertness, increased mental abilities, and healthy teeth and bones. Wheat, in it cooked form, can cause mucus congestion, constipation, and allergic reactions. In its sprouted form, the starch is converted into simple sugars, making wheat intolerant people capable of eating sprouted wheat bread without any problem.
Sprouted Grain Breads
Sprouted grain breads have higher protein, vitamins, and enzymes, and the complex starches are converted into natural simple sugars. They are also low glycemic index (GI), making them digested by the body slowly, maintaining the stability of blood sugar levels, and making people feel more satisfied. This leads to lesser snack eating. Keep in mind that if a food is more processed, the higher GI it is. A load of sprouted grain bread is significantly lower GI than a loaf of white bread.
Eating Sprouted Grains
It is important to know that when eating sprouted grains, seeds, and nuts, you have to eat the entire sprout, including the roots and the leaves. While they can be eaten by themselves, they can be used to make additions to soups, salads, and sandwiches. The sprouts can be stored inside the fridge for up to two weeks, though it is note-worthy to know that the sprouts and seeds turn bad if they are kept for too long.
Making your Own Sprouted Grains
At home, you can make your own sprouted grains or seeds. For overnight, simply place the grains or seeds inside a large pot. After having soaked overnight, use a colander to rinse them. Rinse the grains or seeds two to three times a day until the sprouts begin to form. The length should ideally be around a quarter inch. Depending on how you will use the sprouts, you can use them fresh or dehydrate them. To dehydrate sprouts, rinse them one last time before placing on a dehydrating tray. They should normally take around four to six hours to dry. After drying, use them quickly or store them in an airtight container inside the fridge for up to one month.