It’s said that soy beans were introduced to the US in 1765 by Samuel Bowen, a sailor who had traveled to China. However, it was not until the 1900s that soy beans served a significant agronomic role for the country.
Prior to the Second World War, the US was largely importing edible fats and oils. Because the war disrupted the set trade routes, the US had to find an alternative source and so started to process soy beans for its edible oil. In the 1930s, cultivation of soy beans was greatly encouraged in the drought-stricken states as the crop had soil rehabilitating properties.
Currently, soy beans are touted as this century’s wonder food. Soy beans do contain significant amounts of all the essential amino acids, thus making it a complete source of protein. While this is the case, not everyone may be able to take advantage of soy beans’ nutritional benefits.
Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are native to the North African and South Asian regions. They’ve been part of the Mediterranean and Asian diet since ancient times along with other legumes like lentils and peas. Fava beans are boiled, stir-fried, roasted, soaked and prepared in a multitude of traditional dishes from Greece to Nepal.
This really isn’t surprising as these beans offer a lot of proteins and minerals. For example, a hundred gram serving of fava beans contains 26 grams of proteins. The same serving can also provide 50% of your body’s daily need for iron and magnesium.
One of the possible risks associated with eating seeds and nuts raw is contamination from pathological microorganisms. This is probably one of the reasons why people would prefer the typical commercial variety of such products. But these are more often than not roasted.
There is a distinction between pasteurization and roasting. The former uses adequate temperature that can effectively kill dangerous bacteria. The latter basically cooks the seeds and nuts in high heat. It is this prolonged exposure to high temperature that can reduce the nutritional benefits of seeds and nuts.
There are generally two types of GMO corn, those that are herbicide-resistant and those that inherently contain pesticide. The latter is popularly known as Bt corn because it contains a transgene that enables it to produce Bacillus thuringiensis toxin. This is a substance secreted by the said bacteria that can effectively kill pests such as the corn borer.
The stated reasons for genetically altering corn and other cash crops are agronomic. GMO corn can supposedly better withstand environmental stress like pests and thus lower costs for farmers and increase their productivity. These modifications have nothing to do with improving the nutritional quality of corn.
“You are what you eat” is more than just a saying. If the simple improper preparation or cooking of a particular food can already impact your health, what more could genetically modifying that food do to your body?
From white bread and other baked goods to commercial snack food such as cookies and chips, all these are made from regular wheat flour. It’s the one common ingredient in any of these products.
There are various types of wheat flour. The first broad classification is based on which parts of the wheat grain are milled. Thus there’s whole grain flour which has the bran and germ layer included, and then there’s regular flour which is just the endosperm or the starchy core of the grain.
Regular flour is then further divided into how much gluten it contains. Hard flour (made from hard wheat) is typically 12-14% gluten. Flour specifically used for baking bread is hard flour. Those categorized as soft or weak types have less gluten content and results in products with a crumbly texture. Flour used for cakes and cookies is soft flour.
It is so easy to use canned legumes or other canned vegetables for preparing a dish. Since they’ve been basically pre-cooked, all you need to do is pop the lid, pour the beans or lentils into the pan, and mix it with the other ingredients. You don’t have to bother with soaking or sprouting them anymore.
Storage is another problem you no longer have to worry about with canned beans. They can stay in your cupboard for as long the stated expiration date, and that could be several months. No need for airtight containers or refrigeration.
It’s said that about 86% of US corn is genetically modified. At least there’s still some non-GMO corn left available. There’s also some news that demand for conventional corn seeds is rising. So hopefully in the near future there’ll be safer options for corn.
Corn is an excellent staple food. Just ask the Native Americans who have been consuming it as such since prehistoric times. It is also one of the more flexible grain crops, able to grow in most types of climate. This is why corn was so easily spread into other parts of the world by the European explorers who first encountered it in the Americas.
When purchasing wheat products like pasta, bread or other types of baked goods, the healthy choice is to look for something made from whole grain. This basically means that the bran and germ layers of the wheat kernel were retained as the wheat was processed into flour. This is an important consideration because those layers contain a lot of the grain’s nutrients.
Now there’s another option besides whole grain – soaked and sprouted wheat. As discussed in the earlier article about quinoa, amaranth and millet, soaking whole grains and allowing them to sprout removes potentially harmful but naturally occurring substances and increases nutritional content.
White bread = 1.91 grams protein, 0.6 grams dietary fiber
Sprouted bread is made from flour that’s ground sprouted wheat. White bread on the other hand is usually made from flour that comes from just the wheat endosperm. There is actually little nutritional difference between whole wheat and sprouted wheat (as the latter is the germinated seed of the former) but there is a noticeable gap between whole grain wheat and regular wheat. Soaking and sprouting simply takes a few steps further in improving the quality of whole grain wheat.
The proportional increase in nutrients is due to the process of germination. A seed contains growth-inhibiting enzymes that keep it stable as a seed. With the right stimulus of moisture and temperature these growth inhibitors are unlocked and nutrients become more available.
It’s not just the proteins, the ratio of vitamins and minerals improve as well. Sprouting reduces some of the phytic acid in the grain. Since this substance binds with minerals, sprouted wheat has more bioavailable minerals.
Soaked and Sprouted Wheat Products Risks:
Gluten is another one of the potentially harmful substances that get broken down during germination. However this doesn’t mean that sprouted wheat and products made from it are gluten-free. There’s just less of it. This is probably the reason why some people with a small degree of gluten-sensitivity are able to tolerate moderate consumption of baked goods made from sprouted wheat flour. Nevertheless caution should be exercised and medical advice sought when deciding to include soaked and sprouted wheat products in your diet.
Soaked and Sprouted Wheat Products Practical Uses:
You can take any whole wheat baking recipe and substitute with sprouted wheat flour on a 1:1 ratio. Naturally there will be differences in texture and flavor. Bread made in this manner for example will be dense, chewy, and have a sweet nutty flavor.
Some suggest using sourdough starter instead of yeast and kneading the dough a little longer to get sprouted bread to rise in similar fashion to regular or whole wheat bread. Given its peculiar baking characteristics, such flour is said to be more suited to flatbreads and cookies. Essene bread is one traditional recipe that is specifically made from sprouted wheat.
A non-baking use of such flour is as a thickening agent in soups or sauces. One thing to note about sprouted wheat flour is that it can have more moisture than regular flour. This means you might need to use more to reach the appropriate amount of thickness.
In the next post, I’ll tell you the pros and cons of non-GMO corn in your quest to Become Superhuman.
In the meantime, if you care to jump ahead, here is a complete listing of the grains and legumes on Superhuman Food Pyramid:
Kamut is a brand name; the actual wheat is called khorasan. It’s a very old variety of wheat with origins speculated to reach as far back as Mesopotamian times. The kernels are twice the size of modern regular wheat. They’re also slightly bent or humpbacked in shape. Khorasan wheat has a distinctly sweet and nutty flavor.
Much of the nutritional advantages of this grain come from its being an ancient type of durum wheat. That means it has not undergone extensive breeding unlike modern regular wheat. More often than not the results of these modifications increased yield but lowered nutrition. Khorasan is in fact lower yielding compared to typical varieties of wheat. But it is hardier and can better withstand drought stress.
Sprouting is now a much recommended preparation for grains and legumes. The process of germination at the initial stages is able to reduce the amount of antinutrient substances inherent in these types of food and thus improve their nutritional profile. Sprouts have more of certain vitamins compared to seeds and the minerals become more bioavailable.
Soaking grains such as organic quinoa, amaranth or millet is a middle ground, a compromise between sprouting and cooking the grains unprepared. It is less effective in making the grains more nutritious and safer but at least you don’t have to plan your meal days ahead. Depending on the grain and other environmental factors, sprouting can take more than 24 hours. Then there’s the periodic draining and rinsing involved.