Sprouted Grains

A sprouted wheat berry–Photo Courtesy of HealthBanquet.com

After posting the Sprouted Buckwheat Ritz Crackers, I decided to give you a bit more information on the health benefits of sprouted grains, including how to sprout your own nuts, seeds legumes and grains.
A few posts ago I blogged about my “no grain experiment”. I found during this experiment that I was seriously cutting down on my carbohydrate intake, and suffered from an energy low. Usually I would consume buckwheat and quinoa (technically not a grain, but still high in carbohydrates), in very small portions (1-2 servings a day, at least), soaked, sprouted and cooked according to ancient methods. However, when I cut them entirely from my diet, my body became a bit drained at times for energy.
Very recently I discovered nutritional typing, or finding out what type of macronutrients are best consumed for your body type. I found that my body type was more of a carb type. There are three types–carb, protein and mixed type. Protein involves much more fat and, well, protein than carbohydrates. Carb types prefer more carbohydrates in the form of vegetables, fruits and properly prepared whole grains. Mixed types do well on a combination of both protein and carbs.
I’m slowly starting to bring back quinoa and buckwheat into my diet, for their carbohydrate energy forms, but still would rather not eat grains–even sprouted grains. My body doesn’t do as well on grains, in my opinion, but it does on seeds like buckwheat and quinoa, especially when they are in their sprouted forms. I think I could do well on sprouted grains, every now and then, and even gluten–however I choose to not eat gluten, or grains most of the time. Some people can do very well on grains, no problem and no digestion issues. If you are those people, then this post is for you.

Before the advent of agriculture, grains were hardly ever consumed; in fact, they might have just been seen as a wild plant growing in the fields, not a food source. Even at the beginning of agriculture and harvesting, grains were consumed much differently than they are today, and in fact, most grains are different from their ancient counterparts.

What is sprouting, how do you do it and what are the nutritional benefits? Read below to find out.

Sprouted Grains

Photo Courtesy of DallasNews.com

Wheat, spelt, barely, rye, oats and other whole grains were not prepared the same way in ancient traditions as it is today. Today people are aware (at least somewhat educated people on nutrition) that whole grains are the ones to consume, but very rarely do they know that sprouted whole grains are what needs to be eaten if they want their health to be optimal.
When you sprout grains, the nutritional content goes through the roof. Vitamin E content increases (a powerful antioxidant), nutrients are maximized and the digestion and assimilation of all nutrients are better handled by the body. This means the benefits of regular whole grains are increased, and your body can utilize these benefits much better in their sprouted form than their regular, cooked forms.
Most people consume oats, wheat bread, brown rice, etc., without thinking that they can “up” the nutrition and assimilation of this nutrition just by soaking or sprouting these grains a few hours before preparing them. These methods that have been used in healthy traditions and cultures are just one of the secrets to good health.
Phytic acids are organic acids found in the bran of the seed. These compounds bind with calcium and other minerals, which then block their absorption in the body. The Weston A. Price Foundation notes that, ” This is why a diet high in improperly prepared whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiencies and bone loss.” When you eat sunflower seeds, for example, it will be very hard for your body to absorb the calcium contained within unless you properly prepare them (soaking and/or sprouting). Rye contains the highest amount of phytic acids, while oats contain the least.
Legumes like pinto and black beans also sprout and this is the only way I consume my beans. Beans are almost always associated with gas, bloating and sometimes GI (gastrointestinal) distress because of their high amounts of fiber. However, when soaking beans, digestion is much easier and problems with the GI tract (gas and bloating) are usually dissolved. I suspect this is do to the neutralization of the phytic acids.
How to Sprout Your Grains
Wheat berries are the grains that sprout the best, along with rye, barely, spelt and oat groats. Buckwheat and quinoa, although not technically grains, are also easily sprouted. My favorite method of sprouting, whether it be grains, seeds or legumes, is to–
  1. Soak the grain, seed or legume in water for 8, 12 or 24 hours. Soaking helps break down the phytic acid and neutralizes the anti-nutrients that surround the grain. By breaking up these acids, your body has a better time, and a better chance, of digesting and assimilating the nutrients found within the whole food. You can add an acid medium in the water like whey, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, however some people don’t do this, and that’s OK. An acid medium might speed up the process and provide a good pH environment for the grain.
  2. After soaking the grains, drain, place in a strainer or colander, place over a bowl or something to catch the strained liquid and cover with a towel. The sprouting process begins when the water starts to slowly strain from the grain (hey, that rhymes!) and when it is exposed to oxygen. Rinse and strain every two-four hours, if time permits. Or, you could rinse and strain just twice per day.
After a day you might notice little tails sprouting from the grain. This is what you want. After two days, you can then dry
the grain and grind it into a flour (if that was your goal), or you can cook the grain as usual (buckwheat, oat groats, legumes, etc.).
If you are wanting to boost the nutrition quality of other grains like brown rice, rolled oats or nuts, be aware that these do not sprout. However they do host a benefit when soaked. Soak these foods for 8-12 hours (or overnight) and then cook them or eat them the way you normally do. For rice and oats, soak in an equal amount of water, and then cook in another even amount of water the next day (or after the soaking process). You can also add more water or milk (preferably raw or other non-dairy milk) to stretch out the serving size.
Using sprouted flour in your baking recipes will definitely boost the nutrition quality of your homemade goods. Doing this yourself takes time, but after you do it once it will feel natural and will be a very easy process. Trust me, I sprouts my seeds and legumes all the time, and I don’t think twice about it. It’s easy, healthy and your body will thank you.
As of the time I am writing this, a fellow blogger Elizabeth Walling of Living the Nourished Life (dot com), is giving away two 5-pound bags of sprouted wheat and spelt flour. If you want a chance to win, head over to her blog, read the contest rules and enter. I’ve also entered, and am a bit excited to see the final results. 10 pounds of sprouted grains will last a long time in my house, unless my family (who does eat grains) desire healthy dessert dishes, as they usually do.
This is The Healthy Advocate.
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3 Responses to “Sprouted Grains”
  1. occacieni 26 May 2010 at 11:35 pm #

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Christian, iwspo.net

  2. Brandon May 26 May 2010 at 11:45 pm #

    Thank you Christian.


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