Many of us already opt for the whole-wheat loaf over the fluffy country white (because what wouldn't we sacrifice for the sake of health?). But what if we told you there's another type of whole-grain bread on the block that's better for you than the brown toast you're used to buying?
Sprouted grains, which are used to make foods like sprouted bread, take whole grains to another level. But before we get to why the sprouted stuff is better, you'll have to understand why whole grains are so great in the first place: Whole grains are healthier because they're "whole" so they contain all three nutritious parts of a grain: the bran, germ and endosperm. A refined grain, on the other hand, is missing one or more of these parts.
Sprouted bread is made of whole grains, but think of it as a souped-up whole grain with more nutritional benefits, which is why many dietitians, like myself, always recommend people eat them. While there's no regulated definition of a "sprouted grain," according to the Whole Grains Council, the general agreement is that they're a whole grain seed that has just begun to sprout.
Read more: 9 High-Protein Sprouts
The Health Benefits of Sprouted Bread
Sprouting grains has to do with their "growing process" but what we care about is that, at this point in the process, they are especially nutritious. Take a look at how a slice of traditional white bread (around 28 grams) compares to a same-size slice of sprouted-grain bread.
And when sprouted grains are used to make foods like sliced bread, we reap the many benefits:
- Sprouted grains are higher in protein and vitamins: You'll get more vitamin C, B vitamins, folate and lysine, an essential amino acid in protein. This is especially important for people on a plant-based plan because lysine is typically limited in their diets, according to the American Society for Nutrition. Essential amino acids, like lysine, must come from our diets because our bodies can't produce them on its own. Amino acids help our bodies break down the food we eat and rebuild muscles after lifting weights, among other things.
- You'll get more fiber: Sprouting brown rice increased the fiber content by six to 13.6 percent, an August 2014 study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition found. And eating sprouted-grain bread reduced the spiking effect carbs have on blood sugar level levels, a February 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found. It's likely that the fiber content helped stabilize those blood glucose levels.
- Sprouted grains may be easier to digest: When the plant is sprouting, the protein, carbohydrate and fat molecules within the plant are already broken down by enzymes, as explained by a February 2019 review paper published in Nutrients. Think of the food as already somewhat digested. This makes it easier for the plant to digest those nutrients and, as a result, easier for us to digest as well.
- You can get more antioxidants: Sprouting grains, like amaranth, can
increase the antioxidant content. In fact, sprouting amaranth seeds increased
the antioxidant activity by more than 300 percent, the total phenolic content
by more than 800 percent and flavonoid content by more than 200 percent, per a September 2014 study published Plant Foods for Human Nutrition.
Are You Getting Enough Protein and Fiber?
The Best Sprouted-Grain Bread Brands to Buy
Add these healthy bread brands to your next grocery list.
1. Angelic Bakehouse 7-Grain Sprouted Bread (No Added Sodium)
We're a big fan of the seven-grain sprouted bread with no added salt because sliced bread has been deemed one of the "Salty Six" by the American Heart Association. They're one of the top sources (and an unsuspecting source at that) of salt in our diet. And 90 percent of us are eating too much salt on a daily basis as it is, according to the CDC.
One slice of bread has 70 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.
Buy it: Angelicbakehouse.com; Price: $4.99 per loaf
2. Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Flax Sprouted Whole Grain Bread
One of the longest-standing sprouted grain brands, Food for Life's product line includes sliced bread, English muffins, pitas, buns, cereals, tortillas, waffles and pasta. Food for Life's Ezekiel bread also uses predominately organic, vegan, gluten-free and yeast-free ingredients.
A slice of the flax sprouted bread has 80 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $4.99 per loaf
3. Alvarado Street Sprouted 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Get ready to be blown away by some seriously nutritious sprouted-grain bread. Each slice has 90 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein!
We're also fans of the easy-to-read ingredient list, and it sweetens their bread with dates and raisins rather than refined sugar. The 100-percent whole-wheat sliced bread is vegan and organic, too, and this brand happens to be less expensive than most of its competitors.
Buy it: Shop.alvaradostreetbakery.com; Price: $3.99 per loaf
Tasty Sprouted Bread Recipes to Try
Use sprouted bread the same way you would any other bread — in an open-faced sandwich, alongside eggs or even as french toast — and try these delicious and healthy recipes to switch things up.
1. Brie and Egg Breakfast Bun
Think of this as a healthier, sophisticated breakfast sandwich that's actually super-easy to make — as in, in under 10 minutes. By using a sprouted whole-grain bun, arugula and a free-range egg — and omitting the greasy, high-in-saturated-fat-meats — you boost the nutritional offering of the sammy. It provides a balanced breakfast combining fiber, protein, healthy carbs and fats.
Get the Brie and Egg Breakfast Bun recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Smashed Chickpea Club Sandwich
Many often wonder how vegans and vegetarians can get enough protein. This Smashed Chickpea Club Sandwich is a prime example of how easy (and delicious it can be) to get the muscle-building macro in. Thanks in part to the sprouted-grain sliced bread and the chickpeas, this sandwich recipe provides 21 grams of plant-based protein.
Get the Smashed Chickpea Club Sandwich recipe and nutrition info here.
Read more: 19 High-Fiber Foods — Some May Surprise You!
- Whole Grain Council: "Definitions of Sprouted Grains"
- American Society for Nutrition: "Protein Complementation"
- Whole Grains Council: "Sprouted Whole Grains"
- Plant Foods for Human Nutrition: "Increasing the Antioxidant Activity, Total Phenolic and Flavonoid Contents by Optimizing the Germination Conditions of Amaranth Seeds"
- Plant Food for Human Nutrition: "Assessment on Proximate Composition, Dietary Fiber, Phytic Acid and Protein Hydrolysis of Germinated Ecuatorian Brown Rice"
- Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism: "The Acute Impact of Ingestion of Sourdough and Whole-Grain Breads on Blood Glucose, Insulin, and Incretins in Overweight and Obese Men"
- Angelic Bakehouse: "Bread, Always Sprouted"
- USDA: "White Bread"
- USDA: "California-style Sprouted Bread"