Ezekiel bread, aka sprouted grain bread, has been a secret nutritionist staple for quite some time now, but it’s only recently made its way to the lips of your average health-conscious person. If your roommate, your co-worker or your dietitian has been extolling the benefits of Ezekiel bread and you’re wondering if it’s worth swapping your go-to 100 percent whole grain for this healthier-sounding option, we got all the facts on what this weirdly religious sounding bread really is and, more importantly, what it can do for you.
What are sprouted grains?
“Grains ‘sprout’ when soaked in water and their green sprout grows,” explains nutritionist Leah Kaufman. “As this occurs, a group of enzymes and chemicals work to nourish the wheat’s germ and endosperm (two out of three sections of what is considered to make up a whole grain).” This process, called germination, increases the nutrient value of the grains and makes vitamins and minerals—like vitamin C and B, which you don’t get from regular whole wheat bread—more readily available.Sprouting also breaks down so-called anti-nutrients that inhibit the absorption of nutrients and minerals, says Heather Bauer, R.D., founder of Bestowed.com. This makes it easier for your body to absorb calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.
It’s more than grains that make this bread healthy.
Ezekiel bread contains no flour and is made up of a mixture of grains and legumes—organic wheat, millet, spelt, barely, soybeans and lentils (all sprouted). This combination makes Ezekiel bread a complete source of protein, on par with eggs and milk, containing all nine essential amino acids. “You also naturally get more fiber combining grains and legumes,” says Bauer, which makes this bread a low glycemic index food that will keep you fuller for longer.The unique recipe also explains the brand’s surprising name. It is inspired by the Bible verse Ezekiel 4:9, which says, “Take also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils and millet, and spelt and put them in one vessel….”
Does it trump whole wheat?
Kaufman always tells her patients to opt for whole grain Ezekiel rather than flour-containing breads. “Ezekiel bread vitamins and minerals are more readily available because of the process during germination,” she says.Bauer also recommends it to her clients. Regular 100 percent whole wheat bread provides fiber, protein and vitamins too, but the sprouted grains will give you more nutrient bang for your buck—to be exact, one slice has 4 grams protein, 3 grams fiber and only 80 calories. And in addition to being more nutrient-dense and higher in fiber and protein, Ezekiel bread also has no added sugar and has less gluten than normal bread.“If you have Celiac or are gluten sensitive, this would not be the right bread for you,” notes Kaufman. “Although sprouted bread is a lot easier on the digestive system, it still could be an irritant for those that suffer from this food allergy or intolerance.” That being said, if you’re just trying to cut back on gluten for other reasons, switching to Ezekiel is an easy way to lower your intake.
Just remember: It’s still a carb.
Bauer cautions that just because it’s full of more good-for-you ingredients and nutrients, at the end of the day, sprouted grain bread is still high in carbohydrates. “Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean you can consume excess amounts of it and still maintain a healthy weight,” she says. But as an alternative to the bread you normally eat, it’s a great one.