You may have heard about sprouted bread or Ezekiel bread, but do you know just how healthy it can be for your body? From its nutrient content to its digestibility, this bread has a unique nutritional profile. Let’s explore the origins of sprouted grain bread and all the health benefits you’ll be getting when you eat it.
Ezekiel sprouted bread is made using legumes and sprouted grains instead of standard flour.
You may now be wondering, “Is sprouted bread gluten free?” It is not, as the ingredients include organic wheat, barley, and spelt, all of which contain gluten. However, sprouted bread also includes soybeans, lentils, and millet, which makes for a protein-rich, high-fiber bread.
So if you’re now wondering, “Is sprouted bread healthier than regular bread?” that answer is yes.
It has so much more to offer than traditional white or whole wheat bread. Sprouting makes for an increased amount of B vitamins and other nutrients, minus any refined sugars, shortenings, or artificial preservatives.
Store-bought Ezekiel bread is often sweetened with malted barley, while home bakers of this bread tend to sweeten it with honey.
Ezekiel bread is named after a passage from the Bible, Ezekiel 4:9, that spelled out its recipe: “Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself.” That is still the recipe being followed to make Ezekiel bread, using ancient grains and legumes to back a lot of nutritional value into one loaf.
The Health Benefits of Sprouted Bread
With proper warmth and moisture, whole grains will start to sprout, germinate, and grow. This sprouting process offers nutritional benefits far and above breads made from regular grain flour, and it’s more digestible. Here is a list of the health benefits you can gain by making sprouted bread a regular part of your diet.
1. Enhanced Nutritional Profile
White bread is typically made from ground grains or wheat flour, and whole-grain breads are made using whole grains and whole wheat flour. However, most of the nutritional benefits of grains are lost during the flour’s processing, including the vitamins, minerals, and fiber content. So, while sprouted bread is similar to breads made with whole-grain flours, it is superior in nutritional content.
Even though white flour is often re-enriched with minerals and vitamins to make up for what is lost during processing, it cannot hold a candle to the sprouted whole grains and legumes in Ezekiel bread. All nine essential amino acids are included in this bread, meaning it supplies your body with all the building blocks required for protein synthesis and muscle growth, a truly unique quality when it comes to bread. In fact, each serving of sprouted grain bread has about 15 grams of protein, making it even more valuable for vegetarians and vegans.
2. Lower Antinutrient Profile
Not only is sprouted bread high in vitamin C, protein, fiber, and B vitamins, it is also lower in antinutrients.
What are antinutrients? They are substances that block the absorption of the nutrients you eat. So not only does sprouted grain bread contain valuable antioxidants like beta-carotene, but it also decreases the antinutrients that bind to your nutrients and prevent their digestion and absorption. Phytic acid, for example, blocks the absorption of zinc, iron, and calcium, and it’s an antinutrient that is found in grains and legumes. While cooking can lessen the phytic acid, the sprouting process goes even further in reducing its levels, which then leads to an increased absorption level. The increase can go as high as 200%, as shown in at least one study in reference to iron absorption.
3. May Improve Blood Sugar Control
The sprouting process breaks down the starches in grains, which reduces its carbohydrate content. Sprouted bread has been found to have the lowest available carbs when compared to 12-grain bread (34 grams of carbs as opposed to 44 grams in a 4-ounce serving).
Its low-carb, high-fiber profile brings down its score on the glycemic index, making sprouted bread a much better option for those with high blood sugar or diabetes. On top of that, sprouted grains are also lower in calories than whole-grain flours thanks to the water absorbed while sprouting. Its density also lends itself to helping as a weight-loss aid when it’s used to replace white bread in any diet—this bread is more filling, and has more nutrient content for the calories eaten.
4. Lower in Gluten
While sprouted bread is not gluten free, it is lower in gluten than other breads. Gluten is the reason bread has a chewy texture, as it is a sticky protein found in barley, wheat, rye, and spelt. Wheat gluten has become linked in recent years to leaky gut syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), unhealthy inflammation, and other health issues.
Sprouting grains reduces their gluten content by nearly 50%, making sprouted grains easier to tolerate for those who have a gluten sensitivity. Those with celiac disease, a true gluten allergy, should still avoid sprouted bread and all other sources of gluten, but others may find it easier to digest. There are also gluten-free sprouted grain options available, like sprouted corn, quinoa, and rice for those who need to avoid gluten but still want the benefits that sprouting can offer.
5. Improved Digestibility
Beyond gluten, studies have revealed that sprouting whole grains leads to increased digestibility due to the fact that sprouting is in a way pre-digesting: the starch is already being broken down. There is also a higher enzyme content in sprouted bread, which is another contribution to improved digestibility, specifically the enzymes phytase and amylase. Cooking the breads at a lower temperature helps to preserve these enzymes.
Yet another contribution to increased digestibility is a decrease in lectins, plant compounds that, like gluten, have been linked to chronic inflammation, autoimmune conditions, and leaky gut syndrome. As the grains sprout, they start to metabolize lectins; in essence, the grain itself eats these proteins before you do. So much so that one study in particular found lectin levels reduced by approximately 50% after sprouting for 34 days.
6. Easily Added to Your Diet
Switching to sprouted or Ezekiel bread is as easy as choosing one loaf over the other in the grocery store. Sprouted bread in all its brands and varieties is relatively easy to find nowadays (in health food stores, farmers markets, and even chain groceries stores).
Sprouted grain breads are heavier and denser than the fluffy white bread you may be used to, making them more filling, which can help those trying to lose weight or stay fit with appetite control and increased satiety.
Toasting sprouted bread makes it so similar to regular whole wheat bread that you may not even notice the difference! In fact, the only significant difference you’ll want to look out for is sprouted bread’s perishability: because it is already sprouting, you may want to store it in your freezer or refrigerator rather than keeping it at room temperature if you don’t eat it right away, as that will help to extend its shelf life. You could even bake your own Ezekiel bread at home!
7. Higher Antioxidant Levels
One last note on this truly wonder bread: antioxidants. With higher levels of nutrients like vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, sprouted bread boosts your antioxidant levels, giving you more defenders against the cell damage caused by free radicals in the body. The oxidative stress caused by those free radicals contributes to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, so a diet high in antioxidants could help protect you against some of these diseases.
One study revealed that sprouting amaranth for about three days increased its antioxidant activity over 300%, specifically the phenols and flavonoids. A similar study done with millet also showed increased levels of those antioxidants. Incorporating sprouted bread in your diet will up your antioxidant intake right away, and supply you with protective nutrients you can count on.
Now you know some of the ways sprouted bread brings you benefits that far outshine the nutritional value of whole wheat or white bread. While whole-grain bread is still much better for you than white bread, sprouted bread goes even further in delivering vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, including a full deck of essential amino acids, making this bread a whole protein food. Easier to digest for all, including those with a gluten sensitivity, sprouted bread is food for life that you can easily include in your diet.