Sprouted bread is a type of bread made from whole grains that have been allowed to sprout, that is, to germinate. There are a few different types of sprouted grain bread. Some are made with added flour, some are made with added gluten, and some, such as Essene bread, are made with very few additional ingredients.
These are breads that contain the whole grain (or kernel, or berry) of various seeds after they have been sprouted. They are different from ‘white’ bread inasmuch as ‘white’ breads are made from ground wheat endosperm (after removal of the bran and germ). Whole grain breads include the bran, germ and endosperm, therefore providing more fiber, and naturally occurring vitamins and proteins. A comparison of nutritional analyses shows that sprouted grains contain about 75% of the energy (carbohydrates), slightly higher protein and about 40% of the fat when compared to whole grains.
Wheat is not the only grain used in sprouted breads. Grains and legumes such as millet, barley, oat, lentil and soy may be used. Bread that is made from an array of grains and legumes can provide a complete set of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Sprouted breads may contain slightly more trace minerals and nutrients than non-sprouted breads. Other than that, they supply much the same advantages as whole grain breads over refined grain breads, such as lowered risk of coronary heart disease.
‘Essene bread’ is a very primitive form of sprouted grain bread made from sprouted wheat and prepared at a low temperature. It is often eaten uncooked, or slightly heated, by proponents of raw foods. The Essenes, a Jewish religious group that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE, are credited with the technique and basic recipes for Essene bread, although no scholarly evidence exists for this claim. Sprouting and low-temperature preparation ensure the maximum possible vitamin content for this foodstuff. Sprouting also breaks down the lectins and other substances that some individuals may be sensitive or allergic to.