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Review of published Scientific Literature

Nutritional changes upon Germination & Sprouting

Chavan and Kadam (1989) concluded that -

“The desirable nutritional changes that occur during sprouting are mainly due to the breakdown of complex compounds into a more simple form, transformation into essential constituents, and breakdown of nutritionally undesirable constituents.”

“The metabolic activity of resting seeds increases as soon as they are hydrated during soaking. Complex biochemical changes occur during hydration and subsequent sprouting. The reserve chemical constituents, such as protein, starch and lipids, are broken down by enzymes into simple compounds that are used to make new compounds.”

“Sprouting grains causes increased activities of hydrolytic enzymes, improvements in the contents of total proteins, fat, certain essential amino acids, total sugars, B-group vitamins, and a decrease in dry matter, starch and anti-nutrients. Improvements in amino acid composition, B-group vitamins, sugars, protein and starch digestibilities, and decrease in phytates and protease inhibitors are the metabolic effects of the sprouting process.”


Increases in Plant Enzyme content

According to the highly respected naturopath and herbalist Isabell Shipard (Shipard, 2005) -

“Sprouts are a tremendous source of (plant) digestive enzymes. Enzymes act as biological catalysts needed for the complete digestion of protein, carbohydrates & fats. The physiology of vitamins, minerals and trace elements is also dependant on enzyme activity.”

“Being eaten whilst extremely young, “alive” and rapidly developing, sprouts have been acclaimed as the “most enzyme-rich food on the planet”. Estimates suggest there can be up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than in fruit and vegetables, depending on the particular type of enzyme and the variety of seed being sprouted. The period of greatest enzyme activity in sprouts is generally between germination and 7 days of age.”

“Grains and legume seeds of all plants contain abundant enzymes. However, while grains and seeds are dry, enzymes are largely inactive, due to enzyme inhibitors, until given moisture to activate germination. It is these inhibitors that enable many seeds to last for years in soil without deteriorating, whilst waiting for moisture. Heating, cooking and grinding processes can also inactivate certain digestive enzymes within grains and seeds. Fortunately, during germination and sprouting of grains and seeds, many enzyme inhibitors are effectively neutralized, whilst at the same time the activity of beneficial plant digestive enzymes is greatly enhanced.”


Increases in Crude Protein content

Morgan et al. (1992) found that -

“The protein content of sprouts increased from the time of germination, The absorption of nitrates facilitates the metabolism of nitrogenous compounds from carbohydrate reserves, thus increasing crude protein levels.”


Increases in Protein Quality

Chavan and Kadam (1989) stated -

“Very complex qualitative changes are reported to occur during soaking and sprouting of seeds. The conversion of storage proteins of cereal grains into albumins and globulins during sprouting may improve the quality of cereal proteins. Many studies have shown an increase in the content of the amino acid Lysine with sprouting.”

“An increase in proteolytic activity during sprouting is desirable for nutritional
improvement of cereals because it leads to hydrolysis of prolamins and the liberated amino acids such as glutamic and proline are converted to limiting amino acids such as lysine.”


Increases in Crude Fibre content

Cuddeford (1989), based on data obtained by Peer and Leeson (1985), stated -

“In sprouted barley, crude fibre, a major constituent of cell walls, increases both in percentage and real terms, with the synthesis of structural carbohydrates, such as cellulose and hemicellulose”. Chung et al. (1989) found that the fibre content increased from 3.75% in unsprouted barley seed to 6% in 5-day sprouts.”


Increases in Essential Fatty Acids

An increase in lipase activity has been reported in barley by MacLeod and White (1962), as cited by Chavan and Kadam (1989). Increased lipolytic activity during germination and sprouting causes hydrolysis of triacylglycerols to glycerol and constituent fatty acids.


Increases in Vitamin content

According to Chavan and Kadam (1989), most reports agree that sprouting treatment of cereal grains generally improves their vitamin value, especially the B-group vitamins. Certain vitamins such as alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin-E) and beta-carotene (Vitamin-A precursor) are produced during the growth process (Cuddeford, 1989).


References

Chavan, J. and Kadam, S.S. (1989). "Nutritional improvement of cereals by sprouting." Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 28(5): 401-437.

Chung, T., Nwokolo, E.N., and Sim, J.S. (1989). “Compositional and digestibility changes in sprouted barley and canola seeds.” Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 39: 267-278.

Cuddeford, D. (1989). "Hydroponic grass." In Practice 11(5): 211-214.
Morgan, J., Hunter, R.R., and O'Haire, R. (1992). “Limiting factors in hydroponic barley grass production.” 8th International Congress on Soilless Culture, Hunter's Rest, South Africa.

Peer, D.J., and Leeson, S. (1985). "Feeding value of hydroponically sprouted barley for poultry and pigs." Animal Feed Science and Technology 13: 183-190.

Shipard, I. (2005). “How Can I Grow and Use Sprouts as Living Food ?” Stewart Publishing.

Tudor, G., Darcy, T., Smith, P., and Shallcross, F. (2003). “The intake and liveweight change of droughtmaster steers fed hydroponically grown, young sprouted barley fodder (Autograss).” Department of Agriculture Western Australia.
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