I’m back! My vacation was perfect and now I’m ready to start blogging again. No specific focus for this week… just answering some questions I’ve gotten recently.
One reader asked me about the advantages of eating sprouted grain bread products versus other bread products. I touched on this briefly in February when I talked about English muffins, but it’s a great question and I’m happy to revisit the topic.
Let’s start with white Wonder bread – something we’ve probably all eaten at some point in our lives. Wonder bread is made from wheat that has been bleached, a process that strips the wheat of all of its original nutrients. White flour used in refined grain products such as Wonder bread has lost over half of vitamins B1, B2 and B3, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorous, zinc, copper, iron and fiber. In the 1940s, the government began sponsoring the enrichment of bleached wheat products. The makers of Wonder bread began adding vitamins and minerals to their bread, and started an advertising campaign that boasted of the many nutrients found in Wonder bread. When foods are enriched, the nutrients added are not as bioavailable to us as nutrients found in whole foods. I will talk about bioavailability later this week, because it is an interesting and important concept to understand.
Many people have moved on from Wonder bread and are now consuming whole grain bread products: bread, bagels, English muffins, tortillas, and even chips and crackers. Remember this picture from the blog post I wrote about bagels?
I think it’s helpful to actually see what a “whole grain” looks like. Refined grain producs have the bran and germ removed from the wheat kernel. Whole grains are significantly more nutrient-dense than refined grains, which is evident in the grain’s taste and texture. They contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, lignans, phenolic acids, phytoestrogens, and other important phytochemicals. The breads that are usually made from whole grains are the ones labeled as “whole wheat,” however multi-grain, rye and pumpernickel can be made from whole grains as well.
Some companies have now taken bread one step further, with sprouted grain products. When grains are sprouted, their nutritional content changes. Sprouting allows the germ of the wheat to release enzymes. These enzymes help us digest the grains more easily. Sprouted grains are also higher in protein, vitamins, and antioxidants, and help promote healthy bacteria in our digestive tract. Many people find that sprouted grains are much gentler on the stomach and easier to digest than regular whole grain breads. They are digested very slowly, which helps us stay full longer and helps stabilize blood sugar.
The Food for Life products are usually cooked slowly at low temperatures (250 degrees), so they are not considered a raw food. However, this type of cooking allows for most of the nutrients and enzymes to remain in tact for easier digestion.
If you are someone who feels slight discomfort when digesting whole grain products, you may want to try sprouted grains. They taste great, and the Food for Life brand has many options – tortillas, breads, pasta, English muffins and more. We buy the tortillas and English muffins all the time and love them! I still buy whole grain freshly (and locally) baked bread rather than using the sprouted grain bread, because I love the bread we buy and I save a lot of money by slicing it myself very thinly and making the loaf last twice as long. But the sprouted grain English muffins are great for breakfasts, and the tortillas make it into our lunch rotation frequently. Today for lunch: tortillas with turkey, Colorado-made raw milk cheese (from Twin Mountain Milkhouse, sold at In Season Local Market in Denver), bok choy, and stone ground mustard made with Guinness, straight from the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin!