Health Benefits of Sprouted Grains
The body of research detailing the health benefits of sprouted whole grains is growing daily. Although it's important to remember that no standard, uniform definition of sprouted grains was observed from one study to another, it's intriguing to see — even with a wide range of definitions – how many different benefits seem to be associated with sprouted grains.
Sprouted Buckwheat Extract Decreases Blood Pressure
Korean researchers fed raw buckwheat extract and germinated buckwheat extract to hypertensive rats for five weeks then compared the results. The rats fed the germinated buckwheat had lower systolic blood pressure, while both groups exhibited significantly reduced oxidative damage in aortic endothelial cells. The scientists concluded that “these results suggest that germinated buckwheat extra has an atihypertensive effect and may protect arterial endothelial cells from oxidative stress.”
Phytotherapy Research, July 2009; 23(7):993-8.
Sprouted Brown Rice Fights Diabetes
In Japan, six men and five women with impaired fasting glucose (pre-diabetes) or type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to eat either white rice or sprouted brown rice three times a day. After a two-week washout, subjects switched groups. Researchers reported that “blood concentrations of fasting blood glucose, fructosamine, serum total cholesterol and traicylglycerol were favorably improved on the sprouted brown rice diet but not on the white rice diet” suggesting that diets including sprouted brown rice may help control blood sugar.
Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, April 2008; 54(2):163-8.
Cardiovascular Risk Reduced by Sprouted Rice
In a Korean study, rats on a high-cholesterol diet were divided into four groups, a control group and three experimental groups which were fed (1) sprouted giant embryonic rice, (2) giant embryonic rice, or (3) conventional brown rice. (Giant embryonic rice is rice with a larger germ than normal.) Rats fed the sprouted rice saw a rise in their plasma HDL-cholesterol (“good cholesterol”) and other markers that led researchers to conclude that “consumption of germinated giant embryonic rice is effective in lowering atherosclerosis cardiovascular disease risk.”
Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2007; 51(6):519-26. Epub 2007 Dec 20.
Better Health for Nursing Mothers, with Sprouted Brown Rice
Forty-one breast-feeding Japanese mothers were randomly divided into two groups, one eating white rice and the other sprouted brown rice, for two weeks. When psychological and immune tests were administered to both groups, the sprouted brown rice group was found to have decreased scores of depression, anger-hostility, and fatigue, and a significant increase in s-igA levels, indicating better immune system function.
European Journal of Nutrition, October 2007; 46(7):391-6. Epub 2007 Sep 20.
Sprouted Buckwheat Protects Against Fatty Liver
Fatty liver disease, like alcohol-induced cyrrhosis, can lead to terminal liver failure, and it’s increasing, as it often goes hand in hand with type 2 diabetes. Korean researchers found that buckwheat sprouted for 48 hours developed “potent anti-fatty liver activities” that significantly reduced fatty liver in mice after 8 weeks. Scientists found that sprouting the buckwheat increased the concentration of rutin tenfold, and also increased quercitin, both of which are known for their anti-inflammatory effects.
Phytomedicine, August 2007; 14(7-8):563-7. Epub 2007 Jun 29.
Nutrient Changes Noted in Sprouted Wheat
German researchers sprouted wheat kernels for up to 168 hours (1 week), analyzing them at different stages to learn the effects of germination on different nutrient levels. While different times and temperatures produced different effects, overall the sprouting process decreased gluten proteins substantially, while increasing folate. Longer germination times led to a substantial increase of total dietary fiber, with soluble fiber tripling and insoluble fiber decreasing by 50%.
Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, June 13, 2007; 55(12):4678-83. Epub 2007 May 12.
Sprouting Rye Increases and Protects Folate
Sprouting rye increases its folate content by 1.7- to 3.8-fold, depending on germination temperature, according to researchers in Finland who studied the effects of different processes on this key nutrient. The scientists also found that thermal treatments – including extrusion, puffing, and toasting – resulted in significant folate losses. However, when the rye was germinated (sprouted) first and then heat-processed, losses were minimized, showing sprouting to be a useful potential tool in safeguarding nutrients during food processing.
The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, December 13, 2006; 54(25):9522-8.
Sprouted Rice Reduces Common Allergens
While very few people are allergic to rice, when allergies do occur they are usually linked to specific proteins. Japanese researchers found that sprouted brown rice was much lower in two abundant allergens, when compared to non-sprouted brown rice, and that the reduction was probably caused by protease (enzyme) activity during germination.
Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, October 2005; 69(10):1877-83.
Optimum Germination Conditions for Wheat
Scientists at the University of Alberta germinated wheat under various conditions to determine how to maximize the production of antioxidants. First, they steeped the grains in water for 24 or 48 hours, then sprouted them in the dark for 9 days. Vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, which were barely detectable in the dry grains, increased steadiily during the germination period. Grains steeped for 48 hours became wet, sticky, discolored and acidic-smelling after germination, leading researchers to conclude that 24 hours of steeping and 7 days of sprouting would produce the best combination of antioxidant concentrations and sensory properties.
International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, July 2001; 52(4):319-30.
Sprouting Sorghum Enhances Taste and Nutrition
Tanzanian researchers observed that sorghum, although a staple food in many poorer areas of the world, is not highly esteemed, because of limits in its nutritional and sensory qualities. In an effort to make this easy-to-grow grain more useful and more widely accepted, they studied three traditional processing methods: germination (sprouting), fermentation, and a germination/fermentation comination. They concluded that germination was the best approach for improving the nutritional and functional qualities of the sorghum.
International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, March 2001; 52(2):117-26.
Sprouted Millet is Higher in Key Nutrients
Researchers in India allowed proso millet to germinate for 1-7 days, then analysed the changes in its composition. They found that sprouting increased lysine (a key amino acid lacking in most grains) and concentrated the protein, as the grain overall lost weight. Increases in tryptophan, albumin and globulin were also observed, along with decreases in prolamins, a plant storage protein that may be difficult for some people to digest.
Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, February 1994; 45(2):97-102.
Digestibility Changes in Sprouted Barley
In an experiment at the University of Alberta, barley kernels were sprouted from 2 to 5 days, then oven-dried and milled. Researchers found decreases in dry matter, gross energy (calories) and triglycerides, and increases in fiber and diglyceride content. After the sprouted barley was fed to rats, scientists said that “digestibility data showed an enhancement of digestibility of nutrients in barley… implying that sprouting improved nutritional qualify of barley.”
Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, September 1989; 39(3):267-78.
Nutritional Improvement of Cereals by Sprouting
In a 1989 meta-analysis of existing studies, JK Chavan and SS Kadam found evidence that “Sprouting of grains for a limited period causes increased activities of hydrolytic enzymes, improvement in the contents of certain essential amino acids, total sugars, and B-group vitamins, and a decrease in dry matter, starch, and antinutrients. The digestibilities of storage proteins and starch are improved due to their partial hydrolysis during sprouting.”
Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 1989; 28(5):401-37.