Why Sprouted? Benefits of Sprouted Nuts & Seeds
All our natural granolas are made with nuts and seeds that have been sprouted and gently dehydrated. This process takes several days, so one might wonder: Why do we even bother? What are the benefits of sprouted seeds and nuts?
Put simply, sprouted foods are easier for our bodies to digest. The process of sprouting helps break down seeds and nuts, lightening the load on our digestive systems.
The benefits of sprouting go far beyond easier digestion. The sprouting process actually makes certain nutrients in the food more available to the human body.
This effect is particularly notable when it comes to minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron. These key nutrients are found in abundance in many nuts and seeds, but unfortunately, they are difficult for our bodies to digest. The reason for this is the unique biology of plants.
Plant Foods and “Antinutrients”
Antinutrient is a term you may not have heard before, but it is key to understanding the benefits of sprouting. Antinutrients are a class of plant compounds that reduce the absorption of nutrients in the human digestive system. Antinutrients are not necessarily harmful, but they can significantly reduce the available nutrients in the foods we eat.
Phytic acid (or phytate) is one of these antinutrients, and it’s found in abundance in nuts and seeds. This chemical compound binds to minerals, helping to preserve and store them for future use by the plant. When the plant’s seeds germinate, the stored minerals are used to help the plant grow.
While plants can easily utilize the nutrients bound to phytic acid, humans cannot. In humans, phytic acid reduces mineral absorption, while simultaneously reducing the production of digestive enzymes.
As a result, many of the key nutrients found in nuts and seeds are not digested by the human body – unless those seeds are sprouted, of course! The sprouting process helps to break down the phytic acid, helping to improve the available nutrient profile of the foods we eat.
Additionally, the sprouting process can help to neutralize enzyme inhibitors in our foods, and help to break down lectins, another class of antinutrient. Lectins can be harmful in large amounts, but they are mostly eliminated through cooking, sprouting, or fermentation. Sprouting is particularly beneficial, as it neutralizes lectins without high-heat cooking, a practice which can damage other beneficial nutrients.
The Benefits of Sprouted Foods
Sprouting foods helps to neutralize antinutrients, and essentially “unlocks” the nutrients that have been bound to phytic acid. This makes the micronutrients more available to the human body, resulting in better nutrition from the foods you eat! In short, the benefits of sprouted foods include:
- Increased bioavailability of micronutrients
- Better absorption of key minerals like iron, magnesium and calcium
- Easier digestion compared to non-sprouted
- Reduced stomach irritation
- Improved production of digestive enzymes
- Neutralization of enzyme inhibitors
- Reduced lectin content
- Increased protein content and protein digestibility
- Improved amino acid profile
Many indigenous cultures from all around the world understood the importance of sprouting nuts and seeds to unlock key nutrients. Unfortunately, the practice has largely been forgotten by our modern food system, which too often prioritizes profit over nutrition.