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    Archive for the ‘sprouted grains’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Spelt Digests As A Vegetable?

    194152What do you make of this?

    Shiloh Farms’ sprouted spelt flour has a “digests as a vegetable” claim on the package.

    — [Name Withheld]
    New  York, NY

    Hmmmm.  This is partially correct, but also slightly misleading and confusing.

    It is true that when grains are sprouted, their starch is converted into sugars, thereby mimicking a fruit or a vegetable more than a grain.

    This process makes digestibility easier for some people, but gluten is still present, so anyone with a gluten intolerance should NOT feel safe using this flour.

    I have read anecdotal reports of people with wheat allergies who consume sprouted wheat products with no issues, but I also personally know individuals with wheat allergies who react the same way to sprouted wheat as they do to non-sprouted varieties.

    One issue I have with this statement is that, while applicable to a specific audience, it appears to make the statement that starches should be avoided by everyone.  Unless someone has a wheat or gluten intolerance, there is no need to worry; our bodies are perfectly capable of digesting starch.

    The website’s claim that “starches and proteins are naturally reduced into simple sugars [through the sprouting process] that are more easily absorbed into your body to provide your need for energy” is also irrelevant — and wrong!

    It’s irrelevant because the body is able to digest and break down all sorts of components in food for energy purposes.  The fact that a food does not contain simple sugars does not mean it is “worse” than one that does, or that it will make you feel more sluggish.

    Additionally, the notion of proteins being reduced into simple sugars makes no sense.  Proteins are reduced into amino acids.


    You Ask, I Answer: Fiber

    I’ve recently been drinking Naked Juice because I love the taste of it.

    I know full well (from my last question) that it isn’t a replacement for healthy eating, so I still try to round out my diet.

    However, fiber seems like something I still probably am not getting enough of, and I would love to add, like, 10 grams a day mixed into my juice.

    Do you know if any of those pure “green” juices include fiber?

    If not, do you know of any powdered fiber supplement that isn’t marketed as a laxative?

    I know it shouldn’t stop me, but as a healthy 21 year-old, I can’t bring myself to go buy Metamucil.

    Until I can afford to drop $500 on a crazy blender that blends whole fruits, I’m hoping adding some powdered fiber to a juice will help.

    — Andrew Carney
    Richland, WA

    If your goal is to increase fiber consumption, skip the powders and liquids and go for a much tastier and plentiful source — food.

    I personally don’t understand the decision behind taking Metamucil as a fiber supplement.

    It has an unpleasant taste and texture, doesn’t offer more fiber than food (one serving offers 3 grams — as much as six Triscuit crackers,) and doesn’t provide the naturally-occurring nutrients and phytochemicals in fiber-rich foods.

    So, if 10 grams is what you seek, enjoy your juices as they are and consider the following instead:

    Snack on one Gnu Flavor & Fiber, Lara, Pure, or Clif Nectar bar every day.

    Add a half cup of legumes (chickepas, kidney beans, lentils) to a meal. Some easy options? Heat up some lentil soup or add legumes to a salad, wrap, or burrito.

    Complement your breakfast with a cup of whole grain cereal or two slices of whole (or sprouted) grain toast. For an extra fiber boost, start off your morning with fruit as well (a medium banana provides 3 grams of fiber).

    If you’re making smoothies at home, add two tablespoons of ground flaxseed. You’ll get Omega-3 fatty acids, lignans, and 4 grams of fiber in a 70 calorie package.  Another great option?  One tablespoon of psyllium husks is a wonderful way to add soluble fiber to your day.

    Like pasta? Next time you make some, mix a regular variety with a whole wheat one.
    A cup of cooked whole wheat pasta packs in 5 grams.

    By all means, try to get your fiber from food first.

    There’s no reason why anyone — young or old — should be spending money on fiber supplements.


    You Ask, I Answer: Iron/Vegetarianism

    For women with low iron stores, [who therefore] need to consume beef, does [soy ground beef] contain iron that can help keep the stores up?

    — Micah and Katie
    (Via the blog)

    Great question!

    Let’s start with a few basics.

    Iron is located in hemoglobin, a protein within our red blood cells (pictured at left).

    Hemoglobin is responsible for delivering oxygen from the lungs to various body tissues so other cells – which rely on oxygen — can use it.

    Low hemoglobin levels are therefore problematic, as they result in cells not having enough oxygen delivered to them to perform their required tasks.

    The recommended dietary allowance for iron is set at 8 milligrams for men and women over 50, but vegetarian men of all ages and women over 50 should be consuming approximately 15 milligrams a day.

    The reason? There are two types of iron – heme and non-heme.

    Heme is found in animal sources of iron, non-heme in vegetarian contributors.

    Non-heme iron is not absorbed as easily, so 10 milligrams of purely non-heme iron is not sufficient.

    This is not to say that vegetarian diets are inadequate; simply that they require a higher intake of iron.

    This is not too difficult to do, especially given the high amount of fortified vegetarian products that provide plenty of iron.

    Beans and dried fruits are also great sources of this mineral.

    Keep in mind that women who menstruate have higher iron needs.

    Those on omnivore diets are recommended to consume 18 milligrams a day. Vegetarian women falling into this category should be taking in 30 to 35 milligrams a day.

    The issue of low iron stores is an interesting one because it often gets mixed up with iron-deficiency anemia, although they are two very different things.

    Iron stores run a gamut, from “inadequate” to “excessive”.

    In the middle of that spectrum lies the “adequate/healthy” point.

    Anemia is actually the “end stage”, or lowest point, of iron deficiency.

    The condition of anemia is diagnosed by looking at hemoglobin, mentioned above, and hematocrit (the number and size of red blood cells).

    In anemia, there simply isn’t enough iron present to form hemoglobin. In turn, cells are not receiving enough oxygen.

    Now here’s where things get interesting.

    Someone falling in between adequate stores and anemia has what is known as “iron deficiency.”

    Iron deficiency is diagnosed by looking at levels of the transferrin — a protein that binds to and transports iron – receptor and transferrin saturation (in other words, the percentage of molecules of transferrin that are saturated with iron).

    The bad news is that standard blood tests only show hemoglobin and hematocrit.

    Hence, you could very well be iron deficient and not know it.

    You need to specifically ask for transferrin receptor and transferrin saturation blood labs.

    This is crucial because iron deficiency affects brain function, particularly short-term memory, concentration, and cognitive processes.

    What is important to know is that iron deficiency has nothing to do with the type of iron you are consuming.

    If anyone tells you you need to eat meat to increase your iron stores, feel confident to tell them to read the literature.

    The solution to increasing iron reserves is simply to consume more iron.

    In the case of soy ground beef, two ounces contain 2 milligrams of non-heme iron. That same amount of ground beef contains approximately 1.6 milligrams of the heme variety.

    Another interesting tidbit: runners — especially vegetarian ones — need even MORE iron.

    When we exercise, we undergo a miniscule amount of internal bleeding (which is normal), thereby increasing blood loss — and our chances of developing anemia if we are already iron deficient.

    Again, what is important thing to keep in mind is that increasing body stores can be done with animal or vegetarian sources as long as the right amounts are being consumed.

    There are also certain food combinations worth keeping in mind.

    Vitamin C helps with absorption of non-heme iron.

    So, a soy-based meal accompanied by a tomato salad or glass of orange juice will be beneficial.

    There are also some components of food that will have the reverse effect and inhibit the body’s ability to absorb non-heme iron.

    These include oxalates (found in spinach, quinoa, collard greens, peanuts, and strawberries), tannins (found in tea and coffee) and, more strongly, phytates (found in whole grains).

    Therefore, a soy patty in a whole wheat bun with a side of spinach salad isn’t the most efficient way to include more iron in your diet.

    Here’s some good news, though. Since sprouted whole grains have lower levels of phytates, you’re better off enjoying Ezekiel 4:9 bread products than standard whole wheat varieties.

    Many, many thanks to Dr. Domingo Piñero of New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health for providing a private iron 101 mini-lesson earlier today to help me answer this question as exhaustively — and accurately — as possible.


    You Ask, I Answer: Tortillas

    If I’m looking to make a burrito at home, what’s the healthier option: corn or wheat tortillas?

    — Sandra Trezny
    New York, NY

    Great question, especially since many people think a tortilla is a tortilla. Not quite!

    Ounce by ounce, wheat and corn tortillas result in very different nutritional profiles.

    A 1.5 ounce corn tortilla adds up to 90 calories, 1 gram of fat, a practically non-existent 10 milligrams of sodium, and a not-at-all shoddy 3 grams of fiber.

    Reach for a 1.5 ounce wheat tortilla, though, and you’ll be getting 120 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 400 milligrams of sodium, and a pitiful 1 gram of fiber.

    Why the stark difference? Wheat tortillas are more refined and processed than their corn counterparts, hence the higher sodium and lower fiber amounts.

    Keep in mind, though, that whole grain tortillas offer significant amount of fiber. One brand I especially like is Tumaro’s low-carb multi-grain tortillas.

    It’s not the low-carb moniker I appreciate, but rather the fact that these tasty tortillas clock in at only 100 calories a piece and offer a whooping 8 grams of fiber. In other words, make two burritos and you’re getting half a day’s worth of fiber just from the wrap!

    Whole Foods and other smaller-scale health stores offer another favorite of mine in their freezers — Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain tortillas , which offer whole grain goodness at its best.

    While the exterior of your burrito plays a role in how nutritious your meal is, always be mindful of what you’re putting inside of it, too.

    Opt for fat-free sour cream (or use plain, fat-free Greek yogurt in its place).

    Choose healthier proteins like black beans, tofu, salmon, or seared tuna.

    Load up on grilled or sauteed onions and peppers for extra nutrients.

    Substitute a tablespoon of guacamole’s heart-healthy fats for the same amount of shredded cheese.

    Add plenty of salsa for a good dose of lycopene.

    If you like rice in your burrito, choose brown rice.

    The result? Mexican food that is pleasing to your tastebuds and waist.


    You Ask, I Answer: Sprouted Grains/Breads

    In some supermarkets I’ve seen breads, bagels, and English muffins in the frozen section.

    I never bought them, but I looked at the packaging a few times. It says they are flourless, “sprouted” breads.

    I don’t understand how it’s bread if it doesn’t have flour in it. Are they good for you? What’s in them?

    — Al Joseph
    St. Paul, MN

    Sprouted grains — also known as “live” grains — have recently gone mainstream after being health food purists’ secret for several decades.

    I first had sprouted grain English muffins a year ago, and they have since become a staple in my home freezer.

    Sprouted bread, for instance, is the end result of a process which begins by sprouting — rather than milling — different grains (wheat, spelt, barley, etc.) and legumes (i.e.: lentils, beans).

    These sprouts then become dough, which is baked at low temperatures.

    This process retains more of the grains’ and beans’ nutrients, yielding higher amounts of protein, fiber, vitamin A, iron, calcium, and potassium when compared to regular bread, even whole wheat varieties.

    I am by no means saying that regular whole grain breads are “bad” or nutritionally empty — far from it!

    However, bread products made from sprouted grains offer even more nutrition.

    For instance, one sprouted grain English muffin contains 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber (compared to the already-considerable 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber in a conventional whole grain variety).

    What I personally love about sprouted breads (such as Ezekiel 4:9) is the hearty, nutty taste they deliver — and how incredibly satisfying they are.

    Food For Life — the company that makes the Ezekiel 4:9 line, inspired by scripture — also produces cereals, pastas, and bagels.

    By the way, am I the only one who would prefer a more non-denominational name for their products? Then again, you can chalk it up to a historic, rather than religious, influence.

    Back to the topic at hand — you can only find them in a supermarket’s frozen section because they lack additives and preservatives. Storing them at room temperature will lead to rancidity and spoilage rather quickly.

    Give them a try and see what you think!


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