I love everything sprouted! And, it’s not all just about taste. Sprouted breads are easier on my digestive system and fill me up without giving me that sugar rush paired with a not-so-wonderful sugar crash a couple of hours late.
For instance, two staples in my kitchen are raw sprouted pumpkin seeds and sprouted shelled hemp seeds.
Why am I so obsessed with sprouted foods?
Turns out that modern practices of harvesting un-sprouted food items — think wheat-based products, oats, seeds, etc. — are not as nutritious, higher on the glycemic index, and are more difficult for our bodies to digest. Plants use massive amounts of energy to sprout. Picture a baby turning into an eighteen-year-old and all the food consumption that happens in those eighteen years. It’s the same for plants. So, not only do I get more nutrients, fiber, and protein from sprouted bread, I’m also steering clear of unnecessary sugar.
On top of that, did you know that the wheat flour you buy at the grocery store is actually already going rancid? Yep! The moment a wheat berry is husked during the harvesting process, it begins to degrade. Pair that with the fact that wheat flour sits in silos for weeks and by the time you get your hands on it in the store, it’s already going bad.
This is not the case with sprouted bread!
What is Sprouted Food?
Simply put, sprouted foods — such as wheat, seeds, and legumes — have been allowed to germinate and sprout before being harvested. Yet, sprouting is not as simple as that. There are many factors that come in to play for that little seed to sprout and sprout effectively. All of those factors play into a sprouted seed food product actually living up to its nutrient-dense, low glycemic, and tasty name!
The brand Ezekiel doesn’t refer to their bread as “living food” just for the healthy sound of it.
When a seed is referred to as being alive it means that the seed contains “living, healthy embryonic tissue,” as well as an “embryo and, in most plant species, a store of food reserves, wrapped in a seed coat.” While every seed has specific needs, it all generally comes down to the right “temperature, moisture, air, and light conditions.”
While some seeds enjoy a dark environment, others like a bit of light. Some need more moisture, while others need less. One thing most seeds have in common is that they like warmth. This is why, in those first few warm days of spring, you will most likely see little green sprouts breaking through the topsoil of your garden. Did you know that seeds also “need oxygen and they produce carbon dioxide (CO2)?” This means, if the soil is not aerated “due to overwatering or compaction, the CO2 will not dissipate and seeds can suffocate.”
There are lots of factors that go into a little seed making its way to a sprout! Yet, once all of these factors are aligned, the seed will go through a 3-step process called germination: imbibition, interim or lag phase, radicle and root emergence.
Imbibition happens when the “seed rapidly takes up water and the seed coat swells and softens.” The interim or lag phase is when most of the exciting stuff begins to happen! This is when the “seed activates its internal physiology, cells respire, and the seed starts to make proteins and metabolize its stores of food.” When we refer to sprouted foods being lower on the glycemic index and more nutrient-dense, this is generally when that nutrition shift happens! Lastly, the radicle and root emergence step is signified by the cell starting to “elongate and divide, bringing the root and radicle out of the seed.”
Hence a sprouted food ready for processing!
Sprouting and Nutrients
You’ve most likely heard that sprouted foods are more nutrient-dense. I’ve even mentioned this multiple times in a variety of different articles outlining sprouted foods!
Why is this? How do sprouted foods have a more nutrient-dense profile? In fact, this seems a bit backward. You would think that a sprouted wheat berry or bean would use these nutrients in the sprouting process.
It’s all about the growth inhibitors.
In order for a seed to begin the germination process, the growth inhibitors are deactivated. Natural growth inhibitors are “regulating substances which retard such processes as root and stem elongation, seed germination, and bud opening.” Basically, these chemicals keep the seed in a safe stasis until the conditions are just right for germination to occur. Yet, they also keep all of those wonderful nutrients tightly secure as well. Growth inhibitors actually make nutrients less bioavailable to your body, meaning it’s more difficult for your body to absorb the nutrients when these growth inhibitors are activated. Such as in un-sprouted foods. Therefore, when a seed is allowed to begin the germination process and the growth inhibitors are deactivated, your body is able to easily absorb all those wonderful nutrients!
Health Benefits of Traditional Sprouted Bread
We’ve talked the talk, but now it’s time to walk the walk. Sprouted foods obviously go through a different lifecycle then your standard grain products, yet is it really better for you? Turns out, yes! Not only do you avoid the rancidity that can plague modern wheat products (this includes whole wheat flour!), but sprouted bread offers a few checkmarks in that pro column when compared to regular whole wheat bread.
More Bioavailable Nutrients
This aspect of sprouted food products has been hammered to death, but it truly is one of the most important. As mentioned above, “when the growth inhibitors are deactivated, nutrients like vitamin C, folate, and iron become more available.” Plus, it’s not just grain, but you can also sprout legumes, vegetable seeds, and nuts, all of which “can all be made more nutritionally dense through sprouting.”
On top of that, the “sprouting process reduces a food’s carbohydrate content and increases its protein content,” which means you can source your carb intake from healthier options — such as vegetables — and still get an ample amount of healthy protein.
Better for Blood Sugar and Managing Weight
One of the main issues with consuming regular bread is its glycemic content. Basically, bread is sugary. This means that every time you consume a regular slice of bread, your blood sugar will kick into action and spike in order to counteract the sugar intake.
Luckily, sprouted bread drastically reduces this reaction!
Along with releasing nutrients and upping that nutrient profile, sprouted bread also utilizes its glucose (sugar) stores as an energy source in order to germinate and sprout. Paired with the fact that sprouted bread is “lower carb and higher fiber,” it won’t cause the same blood sugar spikes that regular bread is known for. This means that “sprouted grain bread is an especially good choice for people with diabetes or high blood sugar.”
Due to these factors, sprouted bread is also a better option for those seeking to either lose or maintain a healthy weight. The higher fiber and protein content will keep you feeling fuller longer and the lower ranking on the glycemic index means less of those blood sugar spikes, which can lead to weight gain and obesity.
Easier to Digest
Another great aspect of choosing sprouted bread over regular bread is linked to its easier digestibility. Not only does the seed shuck its tough outer shell during the sprouting process (which is known to be difficult on our tummies!), but the “sprouting process breaks down starch in the grains, making them easier to digest, as they’re already partially pre-digested.” On top of that, sprouted grains have a higher content of enzymes phytase and amylase “which help your body digest the food you eat.” Plus, sprouted bread products generally have “lower levels of gluten and higher levels of soluble fiber.”
Trusted Traditional Sprouted Brands
Now that you’re hooked, where do you get some good quality sprouted bread? There are a few things to look for. First, you’ll want to look at a bread product that has a variety of sprouted seeds, this generally leads to a more diverse and robust flavor. Next, try to find organic, which means you have a better chance of avoiding chemical pesticides. Also, keep your eye on the percentage of “sprouted” in your bread. You want 100 percent. Sometimes brands will cut sprouted with regular whole wheat. Lastly, steer clear of all “fortified” sprouted bread. If a loaf of bread is truly sprouted, then there’s no reason for it to be fortified with synthetic versions of the natural things.
Dave’s Killer Bread is known as a company with soul! This mission statement stems from the company’s focus on both “sustainable agricultural practices and organic farming,” as well as fostering a place of “second chances” and education for their employees, all built upon the Dahl family legacy. This Dave’s Killer Bread Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Bread contains four different 100 percent sprouted whole grains, — whole wheat, barley, oats, and rye — is USDA certified organic and non-GMO project verified, and contains zero artificial ingredients.
Food for Life’s Ezekiel brand of sprouted bread is one of the most trusted and easiest to find sprouted bread products on the market. Not only does Food for Life offer a wide variety of sprouted food products — including English muffins, cereal, and corn tortillas — but they have unique sprouted seeds, such as sprouted flaxseed and sesame seed products. If you’re looking for a great sprouted bread from Food for Life, try this Food For Life Organic Sprouted 7 Grain Bread. This delicious loaf contains organic sprouted wheat, rye, barley, oats, millet, corn, brown rice, and wheat gluten. Plus, this bread promises to use only fresh yeast, filtered water, and mineral-rich sea salt.
Last, but definitely not least on the list is Alvarado Street Bakery located in Sonoma County wine country in California. This once small and now very popular bread company has been focusing on non-GMO and organic products since the seventies, while also supporting the changes in sustainable agriculture and healthy living practices. Their mission is to “give superior service in providing the finest quality baked goods to its valued customers nationwide by utilizing a worker-owned and managed cooperative business structure.” Yet, Alvarado Street Bakery makes this list because they go the extra mile to provide a sprouted grain product along with their traditional bread loaves. Specifically, try out this Alvarado St. Bakery Organic Sprouted Multigrain Bread, which contains organic sprouted whole wheat berries, cracked wheat, cornmeal, millet, rye, sunflower seeds, oats, flax seeds, a bit of honey, and filtered water.
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