What exactly is a Sprouted Food and why are they so good for us?

It’s something we all see on the menu at the local café and keep hearing at the health food store, but what exactly are sprouted foods? Simply put, Sprouted foods are those that have been allowed to begin to sprout (also known as the germination process). There is a breakdown of starch during this process that makes the percentage of nutrients available even higher, with an increase in the bioavailability of nutrients due to the breakdown of phytate (your body is better able to absorb the nutrients, which means you get more!). Phytate is a form of phytic acid that makes the absorption of nutrients by the body much harder. Less Phytate = more nutrients that can be absorbed.

Levels of nutrients such as vitamin C, magnesium, Zinc, folate, fibre and B vitamins are all higher in sprouted foods. This makes sprouted foods even an even better source of nutrition. Sprouting foods also contain essential amino acids such as lysine which generally may not be present in non-sprouted foods, which makes the protein-content of sprouted bread much higher.

By Sprouting foods, you are making the digestion process much easier as the grains are already softer. Your body therefore doesn’t have to work as hard to break them down, which means your body uses less energy during digestion, and makes it especially ideal for those people who may already have issues that affect their digestion (low levels of hydrochloric acid in your stomach, or low levels of digestive enzymes). If you are usually a person who eats just before bed, then sprouted foods are your best option here for this reason. If your digestive system has to work to breakdown food while you are sleeping, then your rest and repair will be compromised. If you simply must eat before bed, at least by choosing sprouted foods you will be reducing the workload your body has to do when it should be resting.

By partially breaking down the starch in the grains, this actually also lowers the carbohydrate content, with one study actually showing that a sprouted grain bread had lower available carbs than the non-sprouted, 12-grain bread. This gives the sprouted grain a much lower rating on the glycaemic index than a sourdough bread. This is good because a lower rating on the glycaemic index means that your blood sugar levels are not raised as quickly as a food with a higher glycaemic index rating. The lower the glycaemic index rating, the less likely you are to experience that ‘post-lunch’ energy crash. It also makes it a much better choice for those with diabetes or anyone who already has issues with blood sugar levels. As an added bonus, during the sprouting process the grains absorb water, which actually then makes them lower in calories than whole-grain flours. Eating more sprouted foods will mean you are consuming less calories than eating the non-sprouted equivalent – an excellent choice for people who are watching their calorie-intake.

Sprouted grains have also been shown to be lower in lectin and gluten, which can make them more tolerable for people to eat. Lectin is a compound that is part of a plants defence system, making it harder to digest. Gluten is a sticky protein that is responsible for the chewy, fluffiness of bread. Both gluten and lectin have been linked to increased risk of inflammation, leaky gut, IBD and auto-immune disease responses in the body, which means that eating sprouted grains is a much better alternative if you are prone to them. It is worth noting that if you are coeliac or are actually allergic to gluten, sprouted grains are still NOT an option for you.

It is pretty clear that including sprouted foods in our diet is more than just a gimmick. There are multiple benefits that make them more than worthy of being included in our meals. Why not chuck some Aussie Sprouts on your lunch today?

Article by Madeline Calfas RN, Nat. Nutritionist and Aussie Sprouts expert
B.Nursing, B. Naturopathy, Adv. Dip Naturopathy, Adv. Dip Nutrition, Adv. Dip Herb. Med