Ezekiel bread is about as nutrient-dense as a bread gets. It’s a type of sprouted bread, made from a variety of whole grains and legumes that have started germinating (sprouting). Compared to white bread, which is made of refined wheat flour, Ezekiel bread is much richer in nutrients and fiber.
Ezekiel bread is a flour-less bread made using a variety of sprouted grains. The grains are mashed into a dough-like texture and baked. Sprouting grains increases their nutritional value. Some researchers have suggested that sprouted grain could be a part of a global solution to boost nutrition.
Whereas most types of bread contain added sugar, Ezekiel bread contains none. It is also organic because of sprouted whole grains and legumes.
In contrast to most commercial breads, which consist primarily of refined wheat or pulverized whole wheat, Ezekiel bread contains several types of grains and legumes:
4 types of cereal grains: wheat, millet, barley, and spelt
2 types of legumes: soybeans and lentils
All the grains and legumes are organically grown and allowed to sprout before they are processed, combined, and baked to make the final product.
Wheat, barley, and spelt all contain gluten, so Ezekiel bread is out of the question for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
What Does Sprouting Do?
Even though grains such as wheat and corn look simple on the outside, they contain enormously complex molecular machinery. There are genes, proteins, and enzymes that can turn a tiny seed into an entire plant.
When the grain receives the right signals, a complex biochemical process begins. The seed starts germinating, breaks through the shell, and sends sprouts up into the air and roots into the soil.
If it gets enough water and nutrients from the soil, it eventually turns into a plant.
A sprouted seed is somewhere between being a seed and being a full-fledged plant.
But there’s one thing to keep in mind: The seed doesn’t sprout unless the conditions are favorable. Given the right signals — mainly hydration (water) and the correct temperature — the seed will start to sprout.
Grains And Legumes Contain Anti-Nutrients
It’s also important to note that most organisms don’t want to be eaten. Grains and legumes are no exception. To get their genes to the next generation, they need to survive.
Many plants produce chemicals to discourage animals from eating them.
Some of these function as anti-nutrients — substances that can prevent the absorption of nutrients and inhibit digestive enzymes.
One example is soybeans. Because they contain enzyme inhibitors, they are toxic when raw.
Even though most grains and legumes are edible after being cooked, cooking doesn’t eliminate all anti-nutrients.
Many non-industrial populations throughout the world have eaten grains without problems. However, most of them used traditional preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting, fermenting, and cooking to significantly reduce the number of anti-nutrients.
While anti-nutrients don’t adversely affect health in most people, they can contribute to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in people who rely on legumes or grains as a dietary staple.
However, anti-nutrients aren’t necessarily unhealthy. Phytic acid, for example, is a strong antioxidant that contributes to the beneficial effects of grains and seeds.
Are Sprouted Grains a Good Choice?
Sprouting — soaking grains in water and allowing them to germinate — causes a number of biochemical reactions in the grains.
The benefits of sprouting include increasing the number of beneficial nutrients and reducing the number of anti-nutrients.
How Sprouting Increases Nutrients
As a result of sprouting, Ezekiel bread may contain more of some vital nutrients. Studies show that sprouting grains increases their lysine content.
Lysine is an amino acid that many plants contain in only small amounts. Increasing its levels through sprouting boosts the nutritional value of grains and seeds.
Studies also show that sprouting wheat may lead to significant increases in protein, soluble fiber, folate, and vitamin C.
Because it contains sprouted seeds, Ezekiel bread should be more nutritious than most other types of bread.
How Sprouting Decreases Anti-Nutrients
Sprouted grains also have lower numbers of anti-nutrients. While phytic acid has some antioxidant benefits, when present in higher amounts it can bind minerals such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, and iron and prevent them from being absorbed. Sprouting modestly reduces phytic acid content.
Enzyme inhibitors are also present in seeds. They protect the seeds from spontaneously germinating but may also make the nutrients found in the seeds harder to access. Sprouting deactivates some enzyme inhibitors.
Another benefit of sprouting is that it reduces the amount of gluten, a protein found in wheat, spelt, rye, and barley. Many people have gluten-related disorders and therefore must avoid consuming gluten.
As a result of the reduction in anti-nutrients, Ezekiel bread may provide better nutrient bio-availability, or absorption, than bread made from grains that have not sprouted.
Ezekiel bread is available in many supermarkets and health food stores. You can also make your own by following one of the many recipes available online.
However, wheat is still the number one ingredient in Ezekiel bread.
Although sprouting may decrease the levels of gluten slightly, people with gluten-related disorders need to avoid Ezekiel bread and other types of sprouted bread that contain wheat, barley, or rye.
If you’re not sensitive to gluten and not on a carbs-restricted diet, then Ezekiel bread can be a more nutrient-dense choice than conventional bread.
It’s certainly more nutritious than most other breads on store shelves, which are usually made from refined wheat and often contain added sugar.