Seems like everywhere you go these days, you see the words “sprouted grains” lauded on some products.  Wondering what all the hype is about?  Is this just the latest craze, like kale or designer pickles?  There’s definitely a resurgence in attention to sprouted grains, but in actuality, they’re ancient.  They are as old as grain itself, you might say, but what exactly is a sprouted grain and why is it supposedly so much better than your run-of-the-mill grain?
Sprouted grains are pretty simple, really.  They’re grains and seeds that have been allowed to germinate and sprout.  People have been happily munching on bean and broccoli sprouts for years, and while we all know they are powerhouses of goodness, no one’s been screaming about it the way they’re now cheering sprouted grains.  So, what gives?  The scream-worthy goodness of sprouted grains isn’t new, but the marketing of these beauties to an increasingly health-conscious populous is–hence the over-abundance of screaming.  But don’t let the popularity of sprouted grains turn you off!  Just because they’re trendy doesn’t mean they’re not worth the hype–they are!
Just like kale, the lowly sprout has been overlooked–but no more!  They’re big news in the health-food world and here’s why:

1.  They’re more easily digested because the sprouting process breaks down starches into simple sugars, which your body can digest more easily.  This may be especially useful in the case of legumes, like beans and lentils, which are notoriously difficult to digest (and often make people gassy).

2.  Sprouting breaks down enzyme inhibitors, so your body can absorb calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, folate and zinc more easily.

3.  Sprouting releases more of the antioxidants that are stored in grains and seeds.

4. Sprouting produces vitamin C and increases levels of vitamins B2, B5 and B6.

5.  There’s more fiber and protein in sprouted grains than ungerminated grains.

6.  Sprouted grains (and legumes and seeds) may be a boon of proteins, as well as iron and zinc, so our vegetarian friends might want to add them to their personal menus.

Germinating seeds is fairly easy and straight forward.  Soak the seeds in water, then store them at the proper temperature to promote growth.  The downside: the potential for foodborne illnesses increases due to the humidity needed for germination (harmful bacteria love these conditions too).  The  U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services advises people to cook all sprouted grains, seeds and legumes before consuming them to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.  Others argue that cooking negates many positive attributes that come with sprouting.  You may be best served to do some research on the best brands of sprouted grains (non-GMO, organic, etc.) and their germination techniques, if you’re serious about your sprouts, rather than trying to germinate at home–but we leave that to you.  You can always research the best practices of germination, right?  Best of luck to you.;)

Brown Bag is always interested in the newest trends in healthy food.  Our imagination sparks, our taste buds tingle, and we wonder, “What can create from this?”  Got some new ideas for us?  Tweet us our post your idea(s) to our Facebook page!