For a long time, healthy shoppers have been opting for 100% whole-grain or whole-wheat bread, but recently sprouted grains are popping up at restaurants and major grocery stores. Here, a closer look at the health benefits of sprouted grain and five types to try for your next pre-workout toast.
All breads — whole grain or sprouted — are essentially made from grain, salt, yeast and water. A grain is a seed packed with all the nutrients and potential to grow into a plant. Sprouted-grain bread is made from grains that are allowed to sprout. Whole-grain bread is made from grains that have been ground into flour. Because they’re made with similar ingredients, both types of bread give you similar nutrients: fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, magnesium and selenium.
During the sprouting process, grains germinate by using some of the starch and phytate within the seed. This leads to two main benefits for sprouted-grain lovers:
1. Better nutrient absorption. Just because a food contains certain nutrients does not mean our body is capable of absorbing them. Sprouting reduces phytate, a plant-based substance that decreases our ability to absorb folate, iron, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium and protein.
2. Fewer issues for those with gluten sensitivities. Sprouted-grain bread is lower in gluten compared to conventional bread because some of the starch is used for sprouting. Those with a mild gluten intolerance may find these breads easier to digest. Of course, this doesn’t mean the bread is gluten-free. People with celiac disease still need to look for gluten-free sprouted-grain bread.
Sprouted grain and whole grain can be nearly identical when we examine their nutrition labels side-by-side (see table below). One caveat: The whole-grain bread should be labeled “100% whole grain,” Otherwise, there are plenty of whole-grain wannabes that have refined flour mixed in, which can change the fiber and protein content.
As you can see above, any difference is just splitting hairs at the gram level. However, a nutrition label can’t fully capture the sprouted-grain benefits mentioned above. Ultimately, the bottom line comes down to price and taste.
If you like a denser, nuttier bread, sprouted grain is for you. Aside from wheat, grains like barley, millet, spelt, lentil, soybean, flaxseeds or nuts may also be added to give the bread more bulk and a different flavor profile.
If you prefer a softer, finer texture, stick with a whole-grain loaf. In most stores, sprouted-grain breads are also more expensive, and this can be a big consideration for shoppers.
Nutrition (per slice): Calories: 80; Total Fat: 0.5g; Sodium: 75mg; Carbohydrates: 15g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugar; 0g; Protein: 4g
Nutrition (per slice): Calories: 90; Total Fat: 0g; Sodium: 170mg; Carbohydrates: 17g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 6g
Nutrition (per slice): Calories: 70; Total Fat: 1.5g; Sodium: 105mg; Carbohydrates: 14g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugar: 3g; Protein: 3g
Nutrition (per slice): Calories: 100; Total Fat: 1g; Sodium: 135mg; Carbohydrates: 18g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 1g; Protein: 6g
5. Sprouted for Life — Original 3 Seed (Gluten-Free)
Nutrition (per slice): Calories: 110; Total Fat: 2g; Sodium: 120mg; Carbohydrates: 3g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 0g; Protein: 2g