Sprouted Grain Bread: Anything To It?

Posted by charliewp @charliewp, Sep 30 8:23pm

My local grocery store sells sprouted wheat bread for twice the cost of standard whole wheat bread. My wheat farmer friend laughs, and says that grain that gets wet starts to sprout, and that the farmer has to sell it for a deep discount at the elevator. The nutrients go into the sprout, which falls off as the grain is moved, and therefore it's used as cattle feed.

My friend is a very intelligent man, and I take his opinions very seriously — especially in this case because he has grown wheat for decades. I am uninterested in vague testimonials, but AM interested in hearing from people who know what they are talking about, both in the underlying biology and how sprouted wheat works in the flour-making process.

The descriptions I've read imply that the purveyors of sprouted grain bread are buying regular unsprouted wheat and sprouting it later, under different conditions. If so, why would it matter? I will appreciate intelligent answers and will have followup questions if this winds up being a useful discussion. Many thanks in advance.

Hello @charliewp, Welcome to Connect. What a great topic. Thanks for starting a discussion. I do try and limit the amount of bread I eat but that's mainly a choice for lowering the carbs I eat. One of my favorite breads is Ezekiel Bread which is 100% sprouted grain or so they say. You will notice we changed your discussion title a little to better describe your question and bring in other members. Here are a couple of articles that may help provide more information for you.

— Are sprouted grains more nutritious than regular whole grains?: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/sprouted-grains-nutritious-regular-whole-grains-2017110612692
— Sprouted Grains: What’s With All the Hype?: https://www.myhealthystate.org/sprouted-grains-whats-with-all-the-hype/
— Mayo Clinic Minute: Why whole grains are the healthier choice: https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-minute-why-whole-grains-are-the-healthier-choice/

For myself, it's always been about how the bread tastes and not so much how better one type is for you than another type. That was before I started on making some lifestyle changes and trying to eat healthier. Hopefully some members with more experience and knowledge to share will join the discussion and share what they know. Have you done any other research on the topic other than conversations with your friend?

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Hello Charlie – John gave you some great information, I thought I would add one bit of data – there is a nutritional difference between bread made from "sprouted wheat" – in its wet, sprouted state, and bread made from "sprouted wheat flour" – sprouted wheat dehydrated and ground into whole wheat flour. Sprouted wheat flour is nutritionally nearly identical to whole wheat flour. Sprouted wheat berries contain fewer calories and carbohydrates, may contain more protein, and can be easier to digest.
You can make your own comparisons here: https://www.nutritionix.com/i/

As for your farmer friend, he isn't wrong – wet wheat spoils easily, and is worth nothing commercially. But intentionally sprouted grains do provide nutrition in a unique way – the nutrients that feed the sprout can also feed you, and they are released by sprouting to make them nutritionally available. The trick is to catch them just sprouting and consume sprout and seed.

John's caution to read the label is a great one – some sprouted breads, like Ezekiel, are nearly all sprouted grains. Others, especially some of the mass market brands, may be wheat flour or sprouted wheat flour, with a few sprouts thrown in.

My takeaway – I have used sprouts in cooking and salad making and as pet treats for 50 years, but I haven't tried them in bread because I don't eat wheat and for my husband a single loaf of bread lasts for weeks.

Please use our comments as a starting place in your personal research and let us know what else you learn.
Sue

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Speaking of bread, what about the nutrition of sourdough bread compared to that of sprouted and whole grain breads?

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@deanna2

Speaking of bread, what about the nutrition of sourdough bread compared to that of sprouted and whole grain breads?

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Deanna – Sourdough is a fermentation agent, a substitute for yeast in traditional bread. It is said to do a better job of breaking down gluten and making the nutrients in the wheat more readily available, but it doesn't add nutrients to the bread. The fermentation process of sourdough vs the leavening process of yeast it the reason for this difference.
Here is a very interesting (and to my mind, non-scientific) study of a small group of people alternately assigned to eat white "store bread" and sourdough bread for a week each, with the resulting changes to their bodies compared. It seemed there were few/no differences to the body from which bread was eaten. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/sourdough-versus-white-bread/529260/
So the answer appears to be that it is mostly a matter of taste.
Sue

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@sueinmn

Deanna – Sourdough is a fermentation agent, a substitute for yeast in traditional bread. It is said to do a better job of breaking down gluten and making the nutrients in the wheat more readily available, but it doesn't add nutrients to the bread. The fermentation process of sourdough vs the leavening process of yeast it the reason for this difference.
Here is a very interesting (and to my mind, non-scientific) study of a small group of people alternately assigned to eat white "store bread" and sourdough bread for a week each, with the resulting changes to their bodies compared. It seemed there were few/no differences to the body from which bread was eaten. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/06/sourdough-versus-white-bread/529260/
So the answer appears to be that it is mostly a matter of taste.
Sue

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Thank you, Sue. According to the link you posted, sourdough "has a low glycemic index," which sounds as though it's a wiser choice for me, a diabetic. Hurrah! I'm doing something right! Of course, I realize anything can be overdone, but I rarely eat more than a slice per day, and sometimes not even that.

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@sueinmn

Hello Charlie – John gave you some great information, I thought I would add one bit of data – there is a nutritional difference between bread made from "sprouted wheat" – in its wet, sprouted state, and bread made from "sprouted wheat flour" – sprouted wheat dehydrated and ground into whole wheat flour. Sprouted wheat flour is nutritionally nearly identical to whole wheat flour. Sprouted wheat berries contain fewer calories and carbohydrates, may contain more protein, and can be easier to digest.
You can make your own comparisons here: https://www.nutritionix.com/i/

As for your farmer friend, he isn't wrong – wet wheat spoils easily, and is worth nothing commercially. But intentionally sprouted grains do provide nutrition in a unique way – the nutrients that feed the sprout can also feed you, and they are released by sprouting to make them nutritionally available. The trick is to catch them just sprouting and consume sprout and seed.

John's caution to read the label is a great one – some sprouted breads, like Ezekiel, are nearly all sprouted grains. Others, especially some of the mass market brands, may be wheat flour or sprouted wheat flour, with a few sprouts thrown in.

My takeaway – I have used sprouts in cooking and salad making and as pet treats for 50 years, but I haven't tried them in bread because I don't eat wheat and for my husband a single loaf of bread lasts for weeks.

Please use our comments as a starting place in your personal research and let us know what else you learn.
Sue

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@ sueinmn

Hi,

I don't eat much bread but when I do, it is usually gluten free. Food for Life has sprouted gluten free bread. These
breads are in the freezer section. You have to play around with the different brands to get one that you like.
I just like the texture and taste of these whole grain or sprouted breads and keep it in the freezer and just a few pieces in the refrigerator for toasting. Sprouted bread decreased phytic acid which blocks the absorption of calcium, iron and I think zinc.

I don't eat it for the nutritional value but it is nice to know it is a healthful option. It is expensive but it lasts me a ery long time. And I love sourdough. Who doesnt love bread. Avacado toast with a fried egg,,,omg. I will have to find the recipe for an english muffin made in the microwave using almond flour…it was surprisingly good.,,,,and made in a large mug with the bottom about the size of a muffin.

FL Mary

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@johnbishop

Hello @charliewp, Welcome to Connect. What a great topic. Thanks for starting a discussion. I do try and limit the amount of bread I eat but that's mainly a choice for lowering the carbs I eat. One of my favorite breads is Ezekiel Bread which is 100% sprouted grain or so they say. You will notice we changed your discussion title a little to better describe your question and bring in other members. Here are a couple of articles that may help provide more information for you.

— Are sprouted grains more nutritious than regular whole grains?: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/sprouted-grains-nutritious-regular-whole-grains-2017110612692
— Sprouted Grains: What’s With All the Hype?: https://www.myhealthystate.org/sprouted-grains-whats-with-all-the-hype/
— Mayo Clinic Minute: Why whole grains are the healthier choice: https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-minute-why-whole-grains-are-the-healthier-choice/

For myself, it's always been about how the bread tastes and not so much how better one type is for you than another type. That was before I started on making some lifestyle changes and trying to eat healthier. Hopefully some members with more experience and knowledge to share will join the discussion and share what they know. Have you done any other research on the topic other than conversations with your friend?

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Thanks for the swift answer. Totally agreed about whole grains. I have eaten only whole wheat bread for 50 years. I phrased the question to focus on any differences between standard whole wheat bread and bread made from sprouted wheat.

I came here because I am a native Midwesterner (living in the intermountain West now), and Mayo Clinic is at the very top of the list. That, plus my reading of other articles from Mayo tells me that Mayo is sensible and non-promotional. We all know about fads, and all things nutrition has been highly susceptible to fads for as long as I can remember. I am open-minded but skeptical, and in the proud Midwest tradition of pragmatism, "I am in favor of what works." In the same tradition, "My mother didn't raise a fool." LOL

I remain skeptical but will keep reading, and am not one bit afraid of changing my mind. Oddly enough, I've done that before. Thanks again for the reply.

REPLY
@sueinmn

Hello Charlie – John gave you some great information, I thought I would add one bit of data – there is a nutritional difference between bread made from "sprouted wheat" – in its wet, sprouted state, and bread made from "sprouted wheat flour" – sprouted wheat dehydrated and ground into whole wheat flour. Sprouted wheat flour is nutritionally nearly identical to whole wheat flour. Sprouted wheat berries contain fewer calories and carbohydrates, may contain more protein, and can be easier to digest.
You can make your own comparisons here: https://www.nutritionix.com/i/

As for your farmer friend, he isn't wrong – wet wheat spoils easily, and is worth nothing commercially. But intentionally sprouted grains do provide nutrition in a unique way – the nutrients that feed the sprout can also feed you, and they are released by sprouting to make them nutritionally available. The trick is to catch them just sprouting and consume sprout and seed.

John's caution to read the label is a great one – some sprouted breads, like Ezekiel, are nearly all sprouted grains. Others, especially some of the mass market brands, may be wheat flour or sprouted wheat flour, with a few sprouts thrown in.

My takeaway – I have used sprouts in cooking and salad making and as pet treats for 50 years, but I haven't tried them in bread because I don't eat wheat and for my husband a single loaf of bread lasts for weeks.

Please use our comments as a starting place in your personal research and let us know what else you learn.
Sue

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Thanks for the reply. It's very much along the lines of a hypothesis that's emerging in my mind, and which I stated in the third paragraph of my original post. I think the answer probably lies in a close comparison of the sprouted wheat that my farmer friend — who has a shockingly high I.Q. but whose head is not in the clouds — disdains, and the sprouted wheat used to make sprouted wheat bread.

To some degree, these appear to be somewhat different animals. I'm after the comparison between the sprouted grain that my farmer friend laughs at and the sprouted grain used in sprouted wheat bread, AND how any differences make it through the process of turning grain into flour, AND the quantification (when possible) of any differences. The bottom line: Are there MATERIAL differences that are independently verified?

Lots of claims are made about food, both positive and negative. I regard most of the claims as specious, and think they proliferate because the mechanization of agriculture that's been underway since Cyrus McCormick's reaper has, over the generations, driven a wedge between eaters and growers. My personal answer has been to get to know the people who work so hard to feed me so well, and to dive into the details from time to time.

Thanks again for the reply. I appreciate it very much.

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@sueinmn

Hello Charlie – John gave you some great information, I thought I would add one bit of data – there is a nutritional difference between bread made from "sprouted wheat" – in its wet, sprouted state, and bread made from "sprouted wheat flour" – sprouted wheat dehydrated and ground into whole wheat flour. Sprouted wheat flour is nutritionally nearly identical to whole wheat flour. Sprouted wheat berries contain fewer calories and carbohydrates, may contain more protein, and can be easier to digest.
You can make your own comparisons here: https://www.nutritionix.com/i/

As for your farmer friend, he isn't wrong – wet wheat spoils easily, and is worth nothing commercially. But intentionally sprouted grains do provide nutrition in a unique way – the nutrients that feed the sprout can also feed you, and they are released by sprouting to make them nutritionally available. The trick is to catch them just sprouting and consume sprout and seed.

John's caution to read the label is a great one – some sprouted breads, like Ezekiel, are nearly all sprouted grains. Others, especially some of the mass market brands, may be wheat flour or sprouted wheat flour, with a few sprouts thrown in.

My takeaway – I have used sprouts in cooking and salad making and as pet treats for 50 years, but I haven't tried them in bread because I don't eat wheat and for my husband a single loaf of bread lasts for weeks.

Please use our comments as a starting place in your personal research and let us know what else you learn.
Sue

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In reply to @sueinmn… I sent you a private message in mid September and am wondering if you did not receive it? Thx.

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I think of the mechanics at the elevators and the mills, and of the plant itself. It seems to me that, once the wheat is harvested, whatever nutrients were present cannot increase. If the grain is sprouted, wouldn't the nutrients in sprouts + what's in the germ be the same as what's in the germ of unsprouted wheat? This is the basis of my skepticism of sprouted wheat bread.

Two points. First is that I might have misstated some biology regarding the plant, i.e. the germ and the sprouts. I might be incorrect, but I am educable and not in the least bit defensive; the day I can't learn something new will be a truly rotten day indeed. Second is that I'm always talking about whole wheat. The comparison, therefore, is between unsprouted and sprouted whole grain bread, as opposed to, say, sprouted whole wheat and bread not made from whole wheat.

My guess is that my farmer friend is talking about sprouted wheat at the elevator being unsuitable for flour because nutrients that transferred to the sprout get lost on account of the sprouts falling off and not making it to or through the flour milling process. If the sprouted wheat used to make breads like Eziekiel is sprouted after the elevator but before milling, it would preserve nutrients that otherwise would be lost. If that's correct, it seems to me that the nutritional content of sprouted whole wheat bread could, at most, be equal to that of unsprouted whole wheat bread. How could there be more nutrients? Wouldn't some of them simply move from the germ (or berry?) into the sprout, but everything would wind up in the flour regardless of whether sprouted or not?

Again, the foregoing is a GUESS, and I am ALWAYS happy to have my guesses contradicted by facts. Another guess: Could it be that the elevators pay a lot less for sprouted wheat because the moisture that made it sprout before reaching the elevator damaged it in other ways as well, accounting for the far lower prices paid?

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@charliewp

I think of the mechanics at the elevators and the mills, and of the plant itself. It seems to me that, once the wheat is harvested, whatever nutrients were present cannot increase. If the grain is sprouted, wouldn't the nutrients in sprouts + what's in the germ be the same as what's in the germ of unsprouted wheat? This is the basis of my skepticism of sprouted wheat bread.

Two points. First is that I might have misstated some biology regarding the plant, i.e. the germ and the sprouts. I might be incorrect, but I am educable and not in the least bit defensive; the day I can't learn something new will be a truly rotten day indeed. Second is that I'm always talking about whole wheat. The comparison, therefore, is between unsprouted and sprouted whole grain bread, as opposed to, say, sprouted whole wheat and bread not made from whole wheat.

My guess is that my farmer friend is talking about sprouted wheat at the elevator being unsuitable for flour because nutrients that transferred to the sprout get lost on account of the sprouts falling off and not making it to or through the flour milling process. If the sprouted wheat used to make breads like Eziekiel is sprouted after the elevator but before milling, it would preserve nutrients that otherwise would be lost. If that's correct, it seems to me that the nutritional content of sprouted whole wheat bread could, at most, be equal to that of unsprouted whole wheat bread. How could there be more nutrients? Wouldn't some of them simply move from the germ (or berry?) into the sprout, but everything would wind up in the flour regardless of whether sprouted or not?

Again, the foregoing is a GUESS, and I am ALWAYS happy to have my guesses contradicted by facts. Another guess: Could it be that the elevators pay a lot less for sprouted wheat because the moisture that made it sprout before reaching the elevator damaged it in other ways as well, accounting for the far lower prices paid?

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Thinking back to both chemistry and nutrition classes a million years ago, but I'll take a stab here.
First, whole wheat flour is not identcal nutritionally to the whole wheat berry because there are losses in the milling process due to heat and oxidation. (This is an older article from McGill University that has a quite good explanation of this topic: http://www.eap.mcgill.ca/publications/EAP35.htm )
Second, the process of sprouting can transform the nutrients into a more bioavailable form. There is a discussion in the Harvard article cited above.
Bottom line, it's still bread, a carbohydrate, and should be a limited part of a healthy diet. And either whole grain or sprouted grain versions are better for you than bread made from refined grains.
I invite a nutritionist to step in with further info.
Sue

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@sueinmn

Thinking back to both chemistry and nutrition classes a million years ago, but I'll take a stab here.
First, whole wheat flour is not identcal nutritionally to the whole wheat berry because there are losses in the milling process due to heat and oxidation. (This is an older article from McGill University that has a quite good explanation of this topic: http://www.eap.mcgill.ca/publications/EAP35.htm )
Second, the process of sprouting can transform the nutrients into a more bioavailable form. There is a discussion in the Harvard article cited above.
Bottom line, it's still bread, a carbohydrate, and should be a limited part of a healthy diet. And either whole grain or sprouted grain versions are better for you than bread made from refined grains.
I invite a nutritionist to step in with further info.
Sue

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Thanks for the reply and especially for the great McGill link. Exactly the approach I respect, at least at first skim. I will have to spend more time with it, but I learned something right off the bat: I didn't know that flour spoils. Truly never occured to me. The same friend gave us a lot of Dakota Maid flour, and I will have to rearrange one of our freezers to hold it. The Harvard article fell short of convincing me on bioavailability, and particularly on the magnitudes and therefore the materiality issue. But my mind is far from closed.

In a weird way, the Harvard article reminds me of a lot of what I've read about marijuana. A lot of repetition of what I'll call "stoner certainties" out there. Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not rejecting anything out of hand, but I have a generally skeptical nature — maybe I should have been born in Missouri, "the show-me state." Not only that, but anyone with miles on the tires has to know that nutrition is a refuge for a whole lot of neurosis and laughable hype. So I look as carefully as I can. We've been fed a lot of what the bull leaves on the ground over the years.

By the way, I can make a credible claim to have a good handle on how to lose weight using 102-year-old science. Maybe I'll post about that sometime. The secret starts with a 1919 paper, "A Biometric Study of Basal Metabolism in Man," by Harris and Benedict. If they'd only teach it in high school, we'd have a whole lot less obesity in this country. Of course, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, et al wouldn't like it. Face it, where would they be without obesity? Whatever they say, I happen to think that "Weight Loss Inc." ought to be called "Fraud Inc." or "False Hope Inc." Atkins works, but it was designed as a pre-surgery crash diet and is not a good plan to keep it off.

By the way, I don't think it's "refined grains," but rather refined flour. The McGill link does a good job of detailing how different kinds of flour are made.

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