Malt benefits include boosting your mood, supplying your body with antioxidants and B vitamins, and improving your bone health. Malt is also a good source of essential amino acids.
The introduction of a Reference Module in Food Science explains that malting is a natural process, and the most commonly used cereal grain is barley because of the way it is bred. People have been breeding barley for thousands of years since the start of agriculture, and so many advanced techniques exist for making it just right for malting.
Barley is bred for easy processing by producing just the right enzymes for malting. These enzymes convert proteins into amino acids and starch into simple sugars. All of these are useful nutrients and are commonly used in the manufacturing of food and the distilling and brewing of different beverages.
The process of malting uses just clean hot air and fresh water. The result is a plethora of flavors and colors that cannot be produced via synthetic methods. In fact, malting is one of the most popular ways of introducing whole grains into the ingredients of many manufactured foods and beverages, such as Onergy malt, an herbal dietary supplement.
The Malting Process
It all starts with water, according to an article published in the July 2016 issue of the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. The barley is immersed in water. The reason why this is considered natural is that it mimics something that happens naturally. When you sow the barley seeds in the ground, they use the water to help them grow. The barley seeds will produce enzymes that generate the nutrients needed to help them grow.
There is an embryo, or germ, inside the barley seed that will eventually become the shoot. There will also be a food source for the embryo to feed on, known as the endosperm or flour. This is the hard part of the seed, and it is very tightly packed and difficult to grind or mill.
The enzymes released by the barley seed soften the endosperm by breaking the hard cell walls that contain the starch and then breaking the starch down into sugar so that it can be used by the growing embryo.
The enzymes released are just enough to fulfill the nutritional needs of the growing embryo. Eventually, a green shoot will emerge from the seed and sprout out of the ground. That shoot will later become the barley plant.
The only difference between the natural growth process and the malting process is that the set of processes that occur during the natural growth process are controlled during the malting process. The idea is to get the barley seeds to release as large a portfolio of enzymes as possible, so they can be used in the next step of the malting process.
The barley seeds are mixed with fresh water and hot air to encourage them to produce a lot of enzymes for the softening of the endosperm without encouraging the growth of the embryo (due to the lack of soil and presence of hot air). These enzymes are very efficient.
They are so good at their job, in fact, that they will not only turn all of the starch in the barley into simple sugars but will go on to break down any other sources of starch that are added to the mix. That is why the malting process commonly involves adding corn and rice to increase the alcohol that could potentially be generated when the fermentation process happens later down the line.
Read more: Common Food Sources of Maltose
Benefits of Malt Extracts
Some of the benefits you can get from malt extract may include improved mental health and a variety of antioxidants:
- A March 2017 study published in Scientific Reports shows that malt can boost the mood and improve mental health from its hordenine compound, which is found in barley. This might be part of the reason why you feel happy after drinking a beer.
- The 2016 Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety study shows that malt contains the antioxidants carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin) and tocopherols, which are incredibly good for your health.
Vitamin B and Amino Acids
Malt extract is a very rich source of vitamin B, and it is known to significantly increase the vitamin B content of the beverages in which it is used, according to a December 2017 study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology. Vitamin B actually isn't a single vitamin but is a range of related vitamins collectively known as B vitamins. They include folate, niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin and thiamine.
The exact amount of the B vitamins may vary depending on the kind of malt beverage you're consuming. These vitamins are necessary for a variety of processes in your body, including the metabolism of fat, protein and carbs. They also regulate your appetite, keep your skin healthy and improve your vision.
Malt extract is known to be an abundant source of essential amino acids, which are those amino acids that the body cannot synthesize on its own and must obtain from the diet.
Without these essential amino acids, the body would not be able to carry out many of its crucial functions, including muscle growth and repair, neurotransmitter production and hormone production, among others. Multiple systems in human bodies would fail.
There are nine essential amino acids: histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. They are mainly obtained from animal products in your diet, such as beef, pork, chicken, eggs and milk, though some of them can also be obtained from plant sources, such as malt extract.
Not all malt extract beverages are good sources of protein. However, nearly all of them can provide you with at least some of these essential amino acids and improve your protein intake.
Bone Health and Malt
Bone health is heavily dependent on good nutrition. While malt extract beverages may not give you all of the nutrients you need to keep your bones healthy, they will certainly help to boost your intake of these nutrients.
Malt drinks often contain magnesium, phosphorus and calcium, which are vital minerals for strong and healthy bones. All three of them are directly used in the main structure of your bones. Magnesium is a structural part of bones and teeth.
Do not use malt extracts to replace a healthy diet by consuming nothing but malt extract foods and beverages. Instead, use them as part of an overall healthy diet so that your body will get all of the nutrients it needs from a wide range of sources.
Even the malt extracts that are often touted as the best source of nutrients still have inadequate amounts of protein, despite having high amounts of sugar. So please don't fill your diet with Onergy malt; in moderation, it may be helpful, but it's not essential.
- Journal of Food Science and Technology: "Changes in Nutritional and Physico-Chemical Properties of Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum) Ex-Borno Variety Flour as a Result of Malting"
- Scientific Reports: "Identification of the Beer Component Hordenine as Food-Derived Dopamine D2 Receptor Agonist by Virtual Screening a 3D Compound Database"
- Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety: "Overall Antioxidant Properties of Malt and How They Are Influenced by the Individual Constituents of Barley and the Malting Process"
- U.S. National Library of Science: "Amino Acids"
- Oregon State University Micronutrient Information Center: "Bone Health in Brief"
- AyurCentralOnline: "Onergy Malt"
- Reference Module in Food Science: Malting: Introduction