by Jessica Sanders

You see loaves of sprouted bread in the aisles, and maybe you even buy it because of its associated health benefits – but is it worth the extra cash? And just exactly what are those benefits of sprouted grain products?

Sprouting, the process of germinating seeds to be eaten raw or cooked, was popular in the 1970s. And still, to this day, many health professionals believe that sprouted benefits run the gamut from better blood sugar control to increased absorption of minerals. Read on to learn more about how sprouting can benefit your health.

Why Go Sprouted?

health benefits of sproutingExperts agree that sprouts are in fact more nutritious than the un-sprouted. A variety of popular brands, such as Ezekiel Bread, are based on the premise that sprouted grains are better for you. Let’s start on getting the facts about sprouts.

When the seed is germinated (or sprouted) before eating or cooking, your body is able to better absorb a number of nutrients including zinc, vitamin C, and iron. But, that’s not all. Other health benefits include:

  • Better digestion: When bread is made with raw grains, the bread is starchy and hard to digest. However, sprouting allows the seed to break most of its starch down into simple sugars. This process makes these grains easier for your body to digest.  Sprouted grain breads do, however, contain gluten — so they are no easier to metabolize for people who are unable to digest this wheat protein.
  • Controlling blood sugar: According to a 2012 study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, sulphoraphanes in broccoli sprouts were found to reduce insulin resistance, and can be beneficial in controlling blood sugar in type-2 diabetics.  Sprouted grains are also low on the Glycemic Index, so they are digested more slowly by the body, keeping the blood sugar levels stable for longer, making people feel more satisfied.
  • Lowers cardiovascular risk: In a recent Korean study, mice fed sprouted brown rice had higher plasma HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol) than those who ate the non-sprouted rice.  In general, many kinds of sprouts are good sources of protein, and eating them instead of some animal products can lower your blood cholesterol levels.
  • Increase total dietary fiber: In general, bread from sprouted wheat is higher in dietary fiber, which is essential in a healthy diet. Longer germination times led to a substantial increase of total dietary fiber, with soluble fiber tripling and insoluble fiber decreasing by 50%.

DIY Sprouting

The sprouting process can be used with grains, vegetables, beans and lentils. And, though you can buy a variety of sprouted products off the shelf of most grocery stores, sprouting at home allows you to experiment, while saving money on expensive sprouted products. Dishes that include fresh sprouts tend to be more multidimensional, super nutritious, and definitely more fun! But, what is most beneficial and easy to sprout at home?

Alfalfa: Rich in Vitamin A, B6, Vitamin C, B1 and Vitamin K, this is a great seed to sprout.  With a variety of nutrients, these help with kidney problems, digestive system issues, and cholesterol levels, you can toss these onto your sandwich or salad to an added punch of necessary nutrients.

Lentils: Lentils are perfect for soups, and boast even more health benefits when sprouted. In this form you’ll get all the most important macronutrients: protein, fat and carbs. Not to mention zinc, which is necessary for enzyme activity and cell communication.

Chickpea: As a simple addition to any diet, chickpeas are perfect for sprouting at home. With a high level of protein and low concentration of fat, you can use your sprouts to make an even healthier hummus dip.

With a simple process, you can turn your kitchen into a sprouting heaven.

  1. Wash your seeds and pick out any stones. You can use a colander to make this process easier.
  2. Move your seeds into a sealable container – this can be a jar or bowl, doesn’t matter – and cover them with water. Let this soak for 8-12 hours.
  3. Pour out the water, rinse with cold water and pour it out again, making sure you don’t leave the seeds sitting in any water.
  4. You can then leave your dry seeds in the jar or on a paper towel, and leave them where air circulation is good – near a window or an airy room.
  5. Wash them twice a day to keep them clean and moist. Do so until the seeds have been fully sprouted – sprouting time will vary with everything seed.

why go sproutedDangers of Sprouting

While eating sprouted bread or vegetables has a slew of health benefits, there are a number of dangers, as well. Some dangers include salmonella, E. coli, and listeria. When eating and growing sprouts, the FDA suggests:

  • If you buy sprouted vegetables, always refrigerate them, and try to cook them before eating.
  • When making your own, use clean water and containers; sanitize your container before using it.
  • All sprouts, bought or made at home, should have a clean smell. If something smells funky, throw them out.

Sprouted bread remains one of the most popular sprouted items in the grocery store, and for good reason. Sprouting your grains (as well as veggies, lentils and rice) has huge nutritional benefits.

  • Sprouted brown rice fights diabetes.
  • Sprouted buckwheat protects against fatty liver disease.
  • Cardiovascular risk reduced by sprouted brown rice.
  • Sprouted brown rice decreases depression and fatigue in nursing mothers.
  • Decreased blood pressure linked to sprouted barley.

Consider sprouting your own or purchasing sprouted products to reap many of these health benefits.

Was anyone else really big into sprouting beans when you were a kid?

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