I have a pretty strong knowledge in the health benefits of sprouted grain through random research at my job (and for personal gain of knowledge.) The sprouting process allows enzymes to become active, the grain is now alive. What does it mean that the food is alive?
Well, when a fruit is picked, it still continues to ripen. Even though it has lost its external source of energy, it will continue the same processes until its own energy is used up, and the processes are unable to be completed, resulting in the fruit going bad. So in the meantime, the fruit is still alive and full of nutrients to pass on to whomever is lucky enough to consume it.
(Just a note to connect nutrition to local produce… I’m not sure anyone has done the research to prove that food miles decrease nutritional value. Its not my main point here so I’m not going to pursue it just now BUT it seems logical. When the fruit is first picked from the tree, it is at its peak nutrition. There’s nothing that can be done naturally to add more nutrition to that piece of fruit. We can’t reattach it to the tree and allow it to continue to grow. And since it has no more plant to feed off of, it will start to use up its own vitamins and minerals to ripen and mature. Hence, the levels of nutrition would decrease. It’s just a theory, but uhh.. it seems pretty obvious.)
Now, it would be easy to think that the process of a fruit maturing or ripening once picked is similar to the process of a person’s body decomposing after its life source is cut off. Let me highlight the difference. Even if an apple is picked from the tree, its seed can be replanted, and can grow into a new plant. There must be something living there, although almost “dormant” you could say. Think about root vegetables. Even once they are dug up and cut from its life source, you can replant it into the soil and grow more! Amazing!
And that brings us full circle around to sprouted grains. Taking a grain and hydrating it almost “tricks” the grain into thinking its going to grow into a plant. Chemical changes start taking place. Enzymes are activated, and the compounds inside the grain begin to break down from compound to simple. The grain is “getting ready” to receive nutrition from soil and metabolize the vitamins and minerals into making more larger compounds to grow the plant. However, when sprouting, the plant never receives soil. So these compounds stay broken into their simple elements, making it that much easier for our bodies to take them in to form our own essential larger compounds (fats, proteins, etc). The enzymes that the sprout now contains are also important for us to consume. The human body contains two types of enzymes: metabolic and digestive. When consuming a raw or living food, we do not need to activate or use up our own digestive enzymes because those enzymes are still intact in the food.
Sprouting also reduces phytic acid, which is a substance that binds throughout food to many vitamins and minerals and blocks our absorption of it. Since sprouting helps reduce phytic acid, more nutrients are readily available for us to take in.
So, I’m going to work to develop whole wheat baked goods that also contain sprouted grains. First test will be a banana bread. Now, let me just note that cooking sprouted grains does end up killing the live enzymes that were activated in the sprouting process. It’s inevitable, especially since they’re fragile and susceptible to heat. However, a sprouted grain will still be more nutrient-dense than a grain that is not sprouted. The protein and fiber content increases and is more easily digested, and the inhibitors like phytic acid will still be reduced. Overall, it will still be a more nutritious food item. Yum!