Sprouted grain breads are a popular choice among health-conscious consumers, but you may be wondering if sprouted grain breads are really healthier than whole-wheat breads. Both sprouted grain and whole-wheat breads are made from the whole grain of wheat and provide a source of fiber and several important nutrients. Even though the breads have similar nutritional profiles, some researchers believe that sprouted grains offer health benefits over whole wheat.
What is a Sprouted Grain?
Grains are essentially seeds, which under the correct conditions, will sprout and begin growing into a new plant. Both sprouted grain and whole-wheat breads are made from whole grains that contain all three portions of the grain. The difference between the two is that sprouted grain bread is made from wheat kernels that have been allowed to sprout before they are ground to make bread. Also, many sprouted grain breads are made of several grains, such as barley, millet, oats, lentils or soy, in addition to wheat. These additional grains may add variety to the nutritional profile of the bread.
According to the Whole Grain Council, sprouted grains may be easier to digest because they have been activated by the enzymes that help break them down. These enzymes also increase the bio-availability of some nutrients, such as vitamin C and carotenoids. Because multiple grains are often used in sprouted breads, they may contain complete protein and be lower in carbohydrate and gluten than whole-wheat breads. Skeptics claim that the nutritional benefits of sprouted grains are insignificant. More research is necessary to determine the scope of sprouted grains' benefits.
According to the USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, at least half of the grains in your diet should be whole grains. Whole grains include all parts of the grain: the endosperm, the bran and the germ. Refined grains have been processed and stripped of the nutritious bran and germ, leaving only the carbohydrate-rich endosperm. Whole grains, such as those found in sprouted grain and whole-wheat breads, are a source of fiber, iron, magnesium, selenium and B vitamins, and are clearly more nutritious than their refined counterparts.
Whether or not you should swap out your whole-wheat bread for sprouted grain bread is controversial. It may offer a slight nutritional benefit, but it is often considerably more expensive than traditional bread. Most importantly, make sure you are choosing a bread that is made from 100 percent whole grains. If you have trouble digesting wheat or are prone to allergies, you may benefit from replacing your bread with sprouted grain bread.
Becky Bell is a registered dietitian with experience in the areas of diabetes, chronic kidney disease and general nutrition. Bell holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Olivet Nazarene University and a Master of Science in human nutrition from the University of Alabama.