Sprouting grain can increase vitamin content and make those vitamins easier for your body to digest and absorb, or "bioavailable." When buying bread, you may see products that are made from flour, whole grains and sprouted grains. Much of the nutritional content depends on the type of grains used, but wheat is the most common. And sprouted wheat may be more beneficial than wheat flour.
Sprouted Grains and Phytic Acid
Soaking whole grains such as wheat berries, rye, quinoa or rice activates enzymes within the grains that can make digestion easier, increases nutrient content and neutralizes phytic acid. Phytic acid blocks the absorption of minerals such as phosphorous, iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium. When you sprout grains, enzymes in the grain start to break-down phytic acid and your body can absorb more of the vitamins and minerals in your food.
Sprouting grains is simple, but time-consuming. First grains are rinsed to remove any foreign material, then completely submerged in clean warm water. Grains are soaked overnight and in the morning, the grains are rinsed and left to sit. Rinse the grains several times during the day, taking care to gently stir them so all grains are evenly rinsed. In 2 to 3 days, your grains will sprout, meaning they've germinated; the grains will have a small "tail," which is the sprout emerging from the kernel.
Whole Grain Flour
Whole grain that is not sprouted can be used "as is" or ground into flour. There's really no such thing as "whole grain flour" -- either it's a whole grain, or it's been ground into a flour. The more processed or refined grains are, the faster your body can digest them. Your body digests refined flours and converts them in to glucose quite quickly -- almost as fast as sugar. Grinding flour breaks down the fiber in the grain that slows digestion. So although sprouted grains and whole grains have a minimal impact on blood sugar, refined flours can quickly raise your glucose and insulin levels.
Sprouted Grain versus Whole Grain Flour
Overall, there is very little difference between flours made from whole grain and those made from sprouted grain. The biggest difference would be nutrient content based on the different types of grains used. Elena Conis reports in the health section of the Los Angeles Times (Oct. 12, 2009) that it's the variety of sprouts, such as lentil, millet or soy, which make the biggest difference between breads made from sprouted versus whole grains. Processing both types of grains leads to a loss of fiber. If possible, choose products made from sprouted rains or whole grains, not sprouted grain flours or whole grain flours. However, these options are both better than products made from refined white flour.