What is so special about Sprouted Grains? | 24 Mantra


What is so special about Sprouted Grains?

Organic Food

Sprouting or germination is a simple processing technology adopted at home and industrially also. The process of sprouting influences the biochemical composition of the whole grains.

“Sprouted grains” are defined by the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) with the endorsement of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as follows: “malted or sprouted grains containing all of the original bran, germ, and endosperm shall be considered whole grains as long as sprout growth does not exceed kernel length and nutrient values have not diminished. These grains should be labelled as malted or sprouted whole grain” (1).

The interest in sprouts could be because they can me produced at a low cost because they can even be made at home too. And sprouts are free of any additives. Germination or sprouting of pulses increases the bioavailability and digestibility of nutrients. For vegetarians, pulses are an important source of proteins therefore they form a very important part of their diet (2). Sprouts have some distinctive characteristics due to which sprouts have become very popular.

Sprouts have

  • appealing colour and flavour
  • significant amount of bioactive components

What happens to whole grain composition when sprouted?

The whole grains are soaked in water for a period of time and they imbibe water. The water is drained and then the grains are kept in moist condition. When the grains are ready to germinate the grain, the composition undergoes several changes.


Enzymes in the whole grain get activated during the germination process. The storage carbohydrate in the whole grain is starch and it is hydrolysed by the activated enzymes into simple sugars, glucose and maltose. The total dietary fiber content also increases.


Whole grains contain storage proteins. During the process of sprouting the proteolytic enzymes are activated and they hydrolyse the storage proteins into peptides and amino acids. This makes the proteins more easily digestible and bioavailable.


Whole grains have components which exhibit antioxidant properties. Some of them are

  • polyphenols
  • carotenoids
  • ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
  • and tocopherols (Vitamin E family)

On sprouting the antioxidant levels in general increase and the antioxidant capacity rises. Antioxidants decrease the damage caused by free radicals.


The bioavailability of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc is decreased because of the presence of phytates. During the process of germination phytate content reduces which increases the bioavailability of minerals (2).

Other antinutrients such as lectins and trypsin inhibitors which affect the digestibility of protein decrease in the beans on sprouting (3).

Sprouts also contain many compounds such as sulphoraphane, sulphoraphene, isothiocyanates, glucosinolates, enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins which have exhibited the property of reducing the risk of cancer (4).

Factors that affect sprouting (1)

  • Genotype (Variety of the grain)
  • Environmental conditions
  • Germination conditions
    • Temperature
    • Light

Sprouts can be used in various recipes

  • As garnish for salads
  • As main ingredient of salad
  • In soups
  • In stir fries
  • In sandwich fillings

Sprouts can be incorporated in any recipe, it can be incorporated into recipes such as khichidi, vegetable preparations and dal preparations.

Sprouting or germination is a processing technique that brings about several important changes in the biochemical composition which makes the nutritional value of sprouts more compared to just whole grains. It makes the whole grains more digestible, nutrients more bioavailable and also increases the phytochemical content which have several health promoting effects.



  1. Benincasa, P., Falcinelli, B., Lutts, S., Stagnari, F. and Galieni, A. (2019). Sprouted Grains: A Comprehensive Review, Nutrients, 11( 421).
  2. Devi, C.B., Kushwaha, A. and Kumar, A. (2015). Sprouting characteristics and associated changes in nutritional composition of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), J Food Sci Technology, 52(10). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4573095/
  3. Savelkoul, F.H., Tamminga, S., Leenaars, P.P., Schering, J, and Ter Maat, D.W. (1994).The degradation of lectins, phaseolin and trypsin inhibitors during germination of white kidney beans, Phaseolus vulgaris L, Plant Foods Hum Nutr.45(3). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8052578
  4.      Marton, M., Mandoki, Zs., Csapo, K. Zs., and J. Csap, O. (2010). The role of sprouts in human nutrition. A review, Acta Univ. Sapientiae, Alimentaria, 81(117). http://www.acta.sapientia.ro/acta-alim/C3/alim3-5.pdf

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