Sprouted grains may soon take over the supermarket, making their way into chips, trail mix, bread, pasta, and cereal. There are benefits behind the products – found in Whole Foods and Walmart from companies such as Food For Life, Arrowhead Mills, and Way Better Snacks – because the grains, legumes, and seeds that have been allowed to germinate into young plants have increased nutrients and fewer carbs. "The main advantage to sprouted grains is that micronutrients like iron and zinc are better absorbed," says dietitian Tamara Duker Freuman. When grains are allowed to sprout, she says, the process breaks down plant compounds called phytates, which can bind to minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium and impair their absorption.
Some sprouted grains are more digestible, says Freuman. In these foods, a plant's tough seed exterior – the most indigestible part – is broken, liberating the nutrients within, says Freuman.
This growing process also makes the grains naturally low in carbs and puts them lower on the glycemic index, meaning they don't boost blood sugar as much. A slice of Food For Life's sprouted bread, for example, has 15 grams of carbs per slice, next to 17 grams for Arnold's whole grain and 28 grams for Wonder Bread.
Sprouted grains may be more nutritious, but they aren't necessarily gluten-free. While young sprouts of some gluten-bearing grains have no gluten (this is why wheatgrass is gluten-free), most sprouted breads, pastas, and cereals will still contain gluten – since the entire grain goes into the final product.