Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Keep your finger on the pulse this Global Pulse Day!

Over the last few years, a wave of plant-based trends, coupled with the International Year of Pulses in 2016, has led to the humble pulse - more commonly known as legumes - increasingly being seen for the nutritional powerhouses that they truly are. And as these trends develop, their true potential and versatility is just now being discovered. With Global Pulse Day on the horizon - 10th February 2018 - we've been looking at the health benefits pulses provide and new ways in which to incorporate them into our diet!

But first, what actually is a pulse?

Pulses belong to the wider legume family, which is a group of plants whose fruit or seed is enclosed in a pod. Pulses refer specifically to the dried, mature seeds of these plants and include dry peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. The term ‘legume’ includes these dry varieties, as well as fresh peas and beans and is a more commonly used term than pulses.

Many people are most familiar with legumes in the form of the much-loved baked bean, but there are hundreds of different varieties of legume out there with some of the most familiar including chickpeaslentilspeas and beans - like butter beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans and soybeans.

Legumes and pulses come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and can be eaten in many forms including whole, split, ground into flour, dried, canned, cooked or frozen.

Why are they so good for me?

Legumes are packed with a whole range of essential nutrients, they are...
  • An economical source of plant-based protein.
  • Higher in protein than most other plant foods.
  • Generally low in fat, and virtually free of saturated fats.
  • Rich in energy-giving carbohydrates, with a low glycaemic index to help maintain blood glucose control.
  • A good source of B-group vitamins including folate, plus iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.
  • Abundant in fibre, including both insoluble and soluble fibre, plus resistant starch - all essential for maintaining good gut health!
There are many studies which show that legumes offer significant health benefits including protection against chronic diseases, assisting with weight management and helping to maintain good gut health.

How much should I be eating?

Pulses like chickpeas, lentils and kidney beans are full of nutrients, inexpensive and important for health and well-being. We recommend aiming for 100g or ½ cup of pulses at least three times a week to maintain good health.

So how do I add more legumes into my diet?

  Enjoying legumes as part of a healthy habit is easier than you might think...
·        Use hummus instead of mayonnaise in a sandwich
·        Substitute a mix of kidney beans and red lentils for half the mince in your next spaghetti bolognaise or chilli
·        Mix in a handful of black beans or lentils when cooking scrambled eggs
·        Try whizzing a handful of cannellini beans into a fruit smoothie 
·        Use mashed cooked brown lentils in a nutty bliss ball mix

Why not try something new with these legumes…

Chickpeas offer a creamy texture and mild taste and make a great base for soaking up flavours.

Try something new with chickpeas: why not mix up your hummus with additions like sundried tomatoes, feta or cooked sweet potato or why not try the latest foodie trend, sweet hummus!

Black beans have a delicious meaty texture and make a great addition to burgers or as a mince substitute in chilli.

Try something new with black beans: use them to add a fudgy texture to black bean brownies.

Lupins are slowly making their mark in the world of legumes due to their incredible versatility - they can be eaten fresh and lupin flour and flakes can be used to up the protein and fibre content when baking.

Try something new with lupins: use a mix of lupin flakes and oats for a nutritious homemade muesli.

  Top tips for prepping and storing your legumes

·        Cooking dried legumes (or pulses) in large batches is easy and cost-effective - simply freeze individual portions of cooked legumes for up to three months for ready-to-use convenience.
·        When using canned legumes, rinse contents thoroughly to reduce sodium content by more than 40%.
·        Soaking dried legumes for an hour or two, or overnight if you have time, ensures that they're easier to digest and maximises nutrient bio-availability. Split peas and lentils don't need to be soaked.
·        Store cooked, cooled legumes in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than 3 days - this applies whether they're from a can or cooked at home.

With so many varieties to choose from, there are many reasons to love your legumes - their health benefits, versatility and abundance of nutrients being just a few. But however you choose to eat them, know that whenever you do you’re making a significant contribution to your health.

Visit the GLNC website for more information on the nutrition benefits of legumes, handy tips and recipe inspiration.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Australia Pacific Conference on Clinical Nutrition Wrap-Up

In late November last year the team from GLNC headed to Adelaide for the 10th Asia Pacific Conference on Clinical Nutrition (APCCN). With the theme ‘Nutrition Solutions for a Changing World,’ APCCN brought together nutrition scientists from across the globe to share the latest in nutrition research. Read on for a wrap-up of the key themes from APCCN:
  • The future of food: how can we contribute to a more sustainable food system?
Author and science communicator Julian Cribb opened the first Plenary Session with a sobering reminder of the risks involved with the modern day food system. Our population is growing at record rates, yet over-consumption and current practices are straining both our health, and the environment. Cribb noted over the next few decades, there is a need to grow more food to sustain the growing population, but produced from less land, using less water. But it’s not all bad news: Cribb’s presentation shared the endless opportunities and areas for innovation in sustainable food systems – a shift to a more plant-based diet, cultured meat and the use of food printers, and ‘Agritecture,’ the art of growing more food in urban environments, which can be observed in major cities with sustainably built high-rises covered in greenery.

  • The microbiome: a trend that’s here to stay, but there’s so much more to learn!
Gut health made waves in 2017 for its links with health and possible disease prevention, and a number of research presentations at APCCN focused on how the microbiome can be altered through eating probiotic or prebiotic foods. Associate Professor Melinda Coughlan from Monash University shared interesting research around the potential for resistant starch to protect against Chronic Kidney Disease in mice, by suppressing or reversing inflammation from dietary AGEs, and decreasing changes in gut bacteria. But despite the hype, there was a consensus that nutrition science is still in the early stages of understanding how diet can affect gut health, so stay tuned!
  • Food innovations and new product development: high-amylose wheat
Dr Anthony Bird from CSIRO presented research on a newly developed strain of wheat which is high in amylose and looks set to become a useful functional food ingredient. With ten times the amount of resistant starch than ordinary wheat, the newly developed high-amylose wheat can be milled into flour and used in food products as normal. This means people could benefit from the digestive and chronic disease protection resistant starch offers, without drastically changing or increasing the foods they eat.
  • Whole grain: where we're falling short
GLNC General Manager Dr Sara Grafenauer also presented research findings from GLNC, alongside the University of Wollongong: ‘The whole grain gap: comparing intakes to recommendations.’ The study found that from a nationally representative sample of Australians, only 30% met the 48g Daily Target Intake of whole grains, so are missing out on the known health benefits. Find out more about the whole grain DTI here.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

4 Steps to Creating the Ultimate Sandwich!

by Lisa Sengul

It’s that time of year again when the kids are headed back to school and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the thought of so many lunches to prepare. We’ve got your back this new school year - creating a nutritionally balanced lunchbox doesn’t have to be so stressful. Take a step in the right direction by making your kids a wholesome sandwich!   

Did you know bread contains vital nutrients such as fibre, B-group vitamins, folate, thiamine, zinc, vitamin E and antioxidants? So it’s the perfect vehicle for creating a nutritious, portable lunch.

If you’re lacking inspiration when it comes to packing school lunches, simply follow our 4 easy steps to creating the ultimate portable lunch…

1.     Choose your base - a well-constructed sandwich relies on a substantial base! Whatever you choose to build your sandwich on, we recommend choosing whole grain, wholemeal or high fibre varieties where possible. Whole grain and high fibre foods can reduce our risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

If you have a picky eater on your hands try using one slice white and one slice wholemeal bread or use a high fibre white bread!   

2.     Add flavour - use your favourite spread like vegemite, hummus or avocado to add a pop of flavour, colour and nutrients. Mix things up and try this bright beetroot hummus.

3.     Add your veggies - use a handful of salad or any other raw or cooked vegetables you have at home. Don’t look past last night’s leftover roast pumpkin or zucchini!

4.     Finally, choose your protein power - quick and easy sources of protein like cheese, tuna, boiled eggs or leftover roast meat are great for sandwiches.

Getting the kids involved...
Now that you’re ready to get creative, why not get the kids to help? A great way to get younger kids involved and make lunchboxes fun is by cutting sandwiches into shapes using cookie cutters!

Encourage your kids to get involved in lunchbox choices too - asking them to choose their fruit and veggies will help to reduce uneaten food at the end of the day.

Top tips for avoiding soggy sandwiches
·       Very lightly toast bread, just 1-2 minutes 
·       Make sure lettuce leaves, rocket and salads are nice and dry before assembling - use a paper towel to remove most of the moisture
·       Put condiments like mayo in the middle of your sandwich, between meat or cheese
·       Use lettuce leaves as a barrier - layer first so they are directly in contact with the bread

Still lacking inspiration?
Don’t worry, we’ve prepared a bunch of lunchbox sandwich, wrap and roll recipes that are sure to get your creative juices flowing. You can find all these and more on our website. Check out our Mexican Bean Wrap - it takes just 5 minutes to prepare and it’s a winner with the kids!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Power of a Plant-Based Diet for a Healthy Gut

by Anna Debenham & Alex Parker, The Biting Truth
Tired of diets promising health wonders and miracle cures that fail to eventuate? It’s time to say goodbye to the era of ‘low-everything’ diets and make room for the plant-based lifestyle!

There is growing evidence of the powers of plant-based diets (i.e. high in fibre, vitamins and minerals) on the health of your gut and your whole body, as well as reducing our risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease by 20-25% 1-6. Following a diet that looks after your gut is imperative. After all, it’s where your food enters your body! Your gut helps you absorb nutrients, keep your immune system strong and prevent certain cancers. As well as your gut health, dietary fibre has profound impacts on your mood, fatigue, stress, mental health, weight and skin.

6 out of 10 Aussies are not eating enough fibre, so most of us could benefit from adding a little more to our diet! If you are worried that this might mean giving up meat, poultry, fish and dairy foods, then rest assured you don’t have to become vegetarian or vegan to reap the benefits of a plant-based diet!

Sounds like a winner? Let’s introduce you to this golden way of eating:

What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet is one that focuses on including a variety of foods that are loaded with fibre - think fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Getting enough fibre is important, but eating a combination of different types of fibre is just as essential for good digestive health.
  • Soluble fibre: helps lower cholesterol and slow digestion. Eat more legumes, oats, barley, nuts, fruits and veggies. 
  • Insoluble fibre: promotes regular bowel movements. Eat more whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and veggies.
  • Resistant starch: act as food for our healthy gut bacteria (potentially the most important type). Eat more legumes (lentils, beans), whole grains, potatoes and firm bananas.
Good Sources of Dietary Fibre
Legumes (chickpeas, red kidney beans, four bean mix, lentils):
Legumes contain a type of fibre called ‘prebiotic fibre’, which feed our good gut bacteria and produce short chain fatty acids. Prebiotic fibre nourishes your intestinal cells and helps to push along the all-important fibre through your gut. Legumes may cause you to feel gassy, or bloated, but this is completely normal (did you know men fart on average 12 times a day and women 7 times). Start introducing legumes in small portions and gradually increase over the next few weeks (and remember to drink plenty of water to help push things along!). This way, you let your gut bacteria gradually adjust to your high(er)-fibre diet without any surprising changes in your bowel habits.

Grains (, oats, barley, rye, whole grain bread, brown rice, bran):
Cutting carbs has been shown to upset gut flora, so the paleo diet is out and grains are back in! In particular, fibre from grain foods has been shown to benefit our overall health, as they contain polysaccharides which provide bulk and absorb water to promote normal bowel movements. Many grains are also a good source of resistant starch (remember this is the food for our gut bacteria).

Fruits and veg:
Fruit and vegetables contain simple sugars which draw water into the gut to assist movement of fibre and prevent constipation. Rather than building your meals around protein try building them around your vegetables. Then add your grains and or legumes, top with crunchy nuts or seeds and finally add your meat, dairy, fish or eggs.

Are you getting enough?
A high fibre diet should give you a score of 4 or 5 on the Bristol Stool Chart. If yours is less than 4 then you may need more fibre in your diet.

6 Ways to Boost Your Fibre
  1. In your next spag bol or lasagna, swap 50% minced meat for 50% lentils, or for black beans in your beef patties and meatballs.
  2. Mix up your grains. Wheat is the most commonly eaten grain, but have you tried quinoa, spelt, teff, barley, rye, amaranth, buckwheat, bulgur, millet or sorghum? These will keep things interesting in your plant-based routine.
  3. Choose whole grain breads and cereals instead of refined varieties.
  4. Fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies.
  5. Enjoy a handful of nuts and seeds as a snack.
  6. Enjoy a potato salad for a dose of resistant starch
We are huge advocates of plant-based eating, as it encourages you to eat loads of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds – all while still allowing for meats and other animal products. Following a plant based diet that is high in fibre is associated with improved digestive health as well as other health benefits. The type of fibre matters, which is why it’s important to enjoy variety (soluble, insoluble, resistant).


1.McMacken M, Shah S. A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Journal of Geriatric Cardiology : JGC. 2017;14(5):342-54.
2.Medina-RemÓn A, Kirwan R, Lamuela-Raventós RM, Estruch R. Dietary Patterns and the Risk of Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Cardiovascular Diseases, Asthma, and Mental Health Problems. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 2016:00-.
3.Shang X, Scott D, Hodge AM, English DR, Giles GG, Ebeling PR, et al. Dietary protein intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study and a meta-analysis of prospective studies. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2016.
4.Melina V, Craig W, Levin S. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016;116(12):1970-80.
5.Dinu M, Abbate R, Gensini GF, Casini A, Sofi F. Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: A systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 2017;57(17):3640-9.
6.Harland J, Garton L. An update of the evidence relating to plant-based diets and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and overweight. Nutrition Bulletin. 2016;41(4):323-38.

12 Ways to Enjoy Grains & Legumes this Festive Season!

Along with the festive season comes the rush to fit in last minute jobs for the year, plus never-ending social catch ups. Not to mention the main event come Christmas Day!

To keep you feeling full of energy and armed with some delicious foodie ideas for the holidays, we’ve put together our list of 12 ways with grains & legumes this festive season.

1. Summer smoothies for breakfast: The jury is out over whether it really is the ‘most important meal,’ but there’s no doubt a healthy breakfast can set you up for a day of healthier eating. For warmer mornings, smoothies make the perfect quick and easy option. Give this Blueberry & Cashew Smoothie a try – by throwing one Weet-Bix in the blender you can get a third of your whole grain Daily Target Intake!

2. Easy lunches: Busy days mean little time to stop and put together a healthy lunch, so having a nutritious option pre-made and ready to go is the best way to nourish your body with little effort. Making a double-serve of dinner for leftovers is a smart move, as is meal-prepping when you have a bit of spare time. Made with eggs, wholemeal pasta, and veggies, this Pasta &Vegetable Frittata is packed with protein and fibre to keep you going through the afternoon. Perfect for lunchboxes too!

3. Get your bake on: Christmas time is synonymous with baking, so once you’ve whipped up the usual festive treats, try something a little different, like these Super Lentil Bites. Made with a mix of lentils and nuts, these little treats are packed with healthy fats and fibre and taste great. Better yet, they’ll be ready to eat in just 10 minutes!

4. Pimp your sandwich: So much more than a school lunchbox staple! The humble sandwich is the ideal way to enjoy leftovers from big barbecues or lunches. Think ham off the bone or roast turkey slices with leftover salads, sandwiched between your favourite whole grain bread. Or try this delicious classic – egg lettuce!

5. Different desserts: You’ve heard of hummus, but how about dessert hummus? Although it might sound crazy, this sweet tasting dip is trending, and thanks to social media, finding recipe inspiration is only a few clicks away. All you need is a base of drained, rinsed chickpeas and a few other ingredients blended in the food processor. With options like chocolate chip peanut butter, snickerdoodle, chocolate, and apple pie, you’ll almost forget you’re still getting a serve of legumes in! Try cutting up a selection of fruit for dipping.

6. Summer BBQs: Whether you’re hosting, or heading to a BBQ as a guest, coming up with a crowd-pleasing side-dish can be tricky. Give this Fresh Lentil, Mango & Quinoa Salad a try and watch it disappear!

7. Meat-free meals: Whether you’re mixing up the weekly menu with more plant-based meals, or are expecting vegetarian guests for lunch, there are endless options for meat-free recipes. Try experimenting with tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes like lentils or chickpeas, and different cheeses like haloumi and feta. A winner for summer BBQs are these Stuffed Capsicums, made with chickpeas, brown rice, pine nuts, and goats cheese or feta.

8. Make friends with salad: If  ever there’s a time to experiment with salads, it’s summer, when the temperature rises and your tastebuds crave fresh, crunchy meals. To make a really satisfying salad, there are a few elements to consider. First, start with a grainy base, like ½ cup cooked rice, quinoa, or freekeh. Next, add a mix of salad leaves and any other veggies you have on hand, as well as a protein source, like boiled eggs, nuts, your favourite cheese, tinned tuna, leftover roast chicken, or some legumes like cannellini or black beans. Finally, drizzle on a tasty dressing (a vinaigrette of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and mustard is a fail-safe), and you’re done! Or try out this fibre rich salad with freekah, lentils and feta!

9. Foodie gift ideas: There’s nothing nicer than giving, or receiving handmade gifts. Whip up a big batch of festive spice granola or muesli and divide into jars finished off with a red ribbon – perfect for small last minute gifts. Use our base granola recipe and get creative with your flavours by trying a mix of different spices and nuts to mix it up!

10. School holiday snacks: Along with the Christmas holidays comes the long summer break for school kids. For days at home, keep a supply of cut-up fruit and veggies in the fridge, ready to pull out and serve with hummus or tzatziki dip when hunger calls. When you’re out on the go, use a cooler bag stocked with whole grain crackers and cheese, or snap-lock bags of air-popped popcorn. They’re always popular, plus around three crackers and ½ cup of popcorn offers one third of their Daily Target Intake for whole grains! Why not try this bright pink beetroot hummus for a twist on traditional varieties the kids will love.

11. Road trip snacks: For many of us, summer holidays mean long road trips – the perfect excuse for preparing a selection of delicious car snacks! And as the weather warms up, food safety is an important consideration, so keep your snacks to shelf-stable options that won’t spoil out of the fridge. Think snack or muesli bars, or make your own trail mix using different nuts, seeds and dried fruit combos! If you’re feeling adventurous why not try roasting your own chickpeas

12. Healthy nibbles: No party platter is complete without at least one dip for veggie sticks and crackers, and the choice most of us agree on is hummus. But rather than grabbing some from the shops, impress your friends with a homemade version. You’ll be surprised at just how simple it is –this Classic Hummus has just 6 ingredients, and all you’ll need to whip it up is 10 minutes and a food processor!

However you incorporate grains and legumes into your diet this festive season, make sure you have fun with your food and enjoy a happy holiday!


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Grains & legumes: what's trending in 2018?

As another year draws to a close, we’ve been looking at key trends for 2018 – so what’s influencing innovation and driving consumer behaviour for the year to come?

“A key trend is a genuine growth opportunity. It’s a set of changes in consumer beliefs and behaviours, leading to a change in a market. It’s something on which a company can base its strategy to increase sales of existing products or create new products, to boost market share and profitability.”

In the first of a series of trends reports, we’ve taken a look at two of 2018’s top trends (with more to come) and the opportunities they present for industry innovation!

Number 1: Plant Based

Plant based is one of the biggest trends right now and this wide reaching category is having an effect on nearly every other foodie trend out there. In 2017, plant based was the second biggest trend, having a considerable impact on innovation and product development. And during 2018, the lifestyle shift that’s driving plant based is the rise of the inclusive Flexitarian diet, not so much an increase in the number of people adopting a vegan diet as many people think. A Flexitarian is defined as.... ‘a person who has a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat and/or fish.’ 

Emerging research is also helping to drive the prevalence of plant based eating with more and more evidence pointing to the many health benefits of eating mostly plant based, including up to a 25% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and a lower frequency of obesity (1). Protein has a part to play here too with many consumers increasingly looking for alternatives to meat. In 2017, a massive 43% of Australians are strongly influenced by protein claims on pack (2).

As a result, consumer demand, changing eating patterns and technological advances are pushing innovation. Legumes are now appearing in all sorts of traditional foods, including breakfast cereals, snack bars and pasta as well as new development with smoothies, savoury snacks and bliss balls. Whole grains feature here too, due to their many health benefits and links with the benefits of increased fibre consumption, cereal fibre in particular. Both categories are driving innovation here.

So what's new within this space?

Plant based meat alternatives - Gold & Green Foods latest product combines oats and beans to create their plant based meat alternative – Pulled Oats...

A focus on plant protein - The Lupin Company’s Lupin Flakes are highly versatile and can be used in baking, added to breakfast cereals or porridge or used in plant based patties to add plant protein, texture and additional nutrients...

Reformulation to up the veggie/legume content of many traditionally grain based foods - the bread market too is seeing diversification with Finnish bakery Fazer adding vegetable and legume purees to breads to create new and innovative offerings...

Plant based is an exciting trend that's set to drive strategy within food for at least the next 5 years.

Number 2: Snackification

The next big trend for 2018, continuing on from 2017 and previous years, is the rise of the snack market. The younger generation is driving most of the growth within this trend, with millennials primarily looking to snack to tide them over between meals and increasingly replacing traditional sit down meals with a snack or two. And with 56% of us eating at least one snack every day (3), consumer demand is higher than it's ever been and is set to continue to grow. This change in the way we’re snacking, from between meal and on-the-go snacks to keep you going until your next meal to whole meals based on a selection of snacks, has prompted a change in consumer demand, with many of us now looking for healthy snacks instead of typically indulgent snack foods that have dominated this category in the past. This shift has ensured both whole grains and legumes are now featuring prominently within the many innovative new offerings available.

Opportunities here are plenty, but where's the biggest potential gain?

Creation of premium products - we’re increasingly willing to pay a premium for a great tasting snack that caters to our lifestyle and fulfils a genuine need. Good Thins crackers are a prime example with a range of different options for all (premium) tastes...

Ever more innovative offerings - Regrained Cereal Bars use leftover grains from the beer brewing process to create whole grain snacks...
There are no limits on innovation - perhaps the biggest opportunity of all within this space - from meat to dairy to veggies, any category is open for disruption. Health and often a focus on protein drives new development, take Biena’s new chickpea snack for example, which combines a typically savoury food with chocolate to create an unusual but delicious snack option...

Manufacturers and retailers will continue to experiment with new trends to fulfill consumer demand and as we become more adventurous with our food and more of us become food explorers, the opportunities for ever more exciting options continues to grow.

Stay tuned for the next edition of our trends report in the new year, where we’ll be looking at ‘good carbs, bad carbs and the new focus on fat.’

To find out more about the fascinating rise of the snack market, read our article here.


1. Harland J, Garton L. An update of the evidence relating to plant-based diets and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and overweight. Nutrition Bulletin. 2016;41(4):323-38.
2. GLNC. 2017. Consumption & Attitudinal Study. 2017. Unpublished.
3. Choosi. Modern Foods Trend Report. 2017.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Forget activated almonds, this year it’s all about sprouted grains!

Last year the Washington Post predicted ‘sprouted everything’ would be a major food trend for 2017 (1). And based on the steadily growing range of sprouted grain products on supermarket shelves in Australia, this trend is here to stay in 2018. But what exactly is a sprouted grain, and does it boost the already impressive nutrient profile of a whole grain? Read on for a summary of the evidence:

But first, what exactly is a sprouted grain?
There is currently no regulated definition for a sprouted grain, but it’s commonly agreed that it is a whole grain that has been soaked in water, and has started the germination process. So put simply, it has ‘sprouted’ a new shoot, and is in the transition phase between a seed, and a new plant.

How do they differ nutritionally to regular grains?
While the evidence around sprouted grains is still emerging, sprouting grains may boost their nutritional value.
The idea is, once they have started sprouting, the grain uses up some of its own starch as energy to grow, which then makes it easier for us to digest. Likewise, germination is said to boost the availability of vitamins and minerals, increase the grain’s antioxidant levels, and reduce phytates - which inhibit the absorption of minerals like zinc, calcium, and iron, meaning we can absorb more of the good stuff. But, given that there is no standard definition for the process, it’s reasonable to assume that variation may exist between products (2,3,4).
Additionally, as sprouted grains need all parts of the grain intact to germinate, they are always a whole grain, as opposed to refined. This is important, as we know whole grains are brimming with health benefits, being richer in protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals than their refined counterparts. So whether or not sprouted grains have additional benefits, those eating them will be reaping the benefits of including whole grains – so it may be a win-win!

What does the research say?
A scan of the literature brings up a small pool of studies – few of which relate to humans. Early findings suggest sprouted grains may reduce risk and assist with the management of chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, fatty liver disease and depression. However, it’s unclear whether eating sprouted products offers additional benefit beyond simply consuming more whole grains, - supported by the evidence as reducing risk of chronic disease and improving diet quality (5).

Where can we find them?
As well as being used in place of grains in home cooking or on trendy café menus, sprouted grains are making their way into a range of commercially available foods. They’re still a niche product, but are growing in popularity in the USA, so it’s no surprise Australia is following suit. We’re seeing sprouted grains appear in cereals and granolas, breads, flours, bars, grain-based drinks, even corn chips!

Can I make them myself?
You can. And on the upside, it’s cheaper than buying pre-sprouted grains, but it can be time consuming and fiddly.
D.I.Y sprouted grains:
1.      Rinse grains and place in a jar
2.      Soak the grains in water for 12 to 24 hours. They will expand as they absorb water, so it’s important that grains are completely submerged
3.      Use a sieve with small holes to drain the water completely from the jar, leaving the grains
4.      Rinse your grains twice a day and leave to drain
5.      Depending on the temperature, humidity and type of grain, sprouting should start to occur within three to seven days
6.      When you are happy with the level of sprouting, dry completely in a low oven or dehydrator and refrigerate for 3 days.

Once prepared, they can be used in the same way that you would ordinarily use grains – such as sprouted brown rice in a stir fry, or sprouted quinoa in a salad.      
Note: it’s important to be aware of food safety when it comes to sprouted grains. As they are prepared under moist, humid conditions, sprouted grains also offer an ideal condition for harmful bacteria to grow, so they can pose a risk for food poisoning. As such, the USA’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggest children, elderly people, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems should avoid eating sprouted grains.

Are they worth the extra effort/money?
Since the evidence is still emerging, it’s too early to confidently recommend sprouting your grains for the health benefits. But, given sprouted grains offer an interesting and tasty way to enjoy whole grains, there’s nothing to be lost from giving them, and the interesting sprouted grain products on the market a go. Watch this space!

1. The Washington Post, Plant proteins, healthy fats and more 2017 food trends. Accessed 16/11/2017 from:
2. Chavan JK, Kadam SS, Beuchat LR. Nutritional improvement of cereals by sprouting. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 1989;28(5):401-37.
3. Jaenke R, Barzi F, McMahon E, Webster J, Brimecombe J. Consumer acceptance of reformulated food products: A systematic review and meta-analysis of salt-reduced foods. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 2017;57(16):3357-72.
4. Mbithi S, Van Camp J, Rodriguez R, Huyghebaert A. Effects of sprouting on nutrient and antinutrient composition of kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris var. Rose coco). European Food Research and Technology. 2001;212(2):188-91.
5. Lorenz K. Cereal sprouts: composition, nutritive value, food applications. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. 1980;13(4):353-85.