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Ezekiel Bread: Superfood or Gluten Trap?

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Ezekiel Bread - Dr.Axe

Ezekiel bread is a type of sprouted grain bread that is prepared using traditional methods of soaking, sprouting and baking. These methods have been in existence for thousands of years — and for good reason. Ezekiel bread is made using sprouted whole grains, legumes and sometimes seeds. It contains no sugar, no preservatives and no artificial ingredients, unlike most other commercial breads.

Compared to breads that don’t contain sprouted grains, Ezekiel bread nutrition includes more protein, fiber, and absorbable vitamins and minerals. It also contains less harmful antinutrients, like phytic acid, and is even less concentrated with gluten.

What is the healthiest bread you can eat? That can depend upon your health status, health goals and food allergies, but Ezekiel bread may just be a healthier choice for you than your current go-to loaf.


What Is Ezekiel Bread?

Ezekiel bread is a type of sprouted grain bread based on a section of the Bible, making it one of the top 10 Bible foods. According to its maker, “Ezekiel 4:9 products are crafted in the likeness of the Holy Scripture verse Ezekiel 4:9 to ensure unrivaled honest nutrition and pure, delicious flavors.” (1) What does the Bible say about Ezekiel bread? Ezekiel 4:9® Sprouted Grain Bread is inspired by the Holy Scripture verse: “Take also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make bread of it…” (2)

Ezekiel bread is made with the following ingredients: organic sprouted wheat, filtered water, organic malted barley, organic sprouted rye, organic sprouted barley, organic sprouted oats, organic sprouted millet, organic sprouted corn, organic sprouted brown rice, fresh yeast, organic wheat gluten and sea salt.

In case you’re wondering: Can I eat Ezekiel bread on the keto diet? If you follow the ketogenic diet, you likely avoid any and all grains. That means no breads. However, if you switch to a cyclical keto diet or carb cycling diet, certain sprouted grain breads may be acceptable on your carb-loading days.


Is Ezekiel Bread Gluten-Free?

Ezekiel bread is not gluten-free because it’s typically made using sprouted ancient wheat grains, barley and rye, all of which contain the protein gluten. This is one of the main reasons it is not recommended that everyone makes Ezekiel bread a staple of his or her diet.

Research now shows that a large percentage of the general population reports that it reacts negatively to eating gluten and feels better when removing gluten-containing grains and products from the diet. This true even for some people who do not positively test for celiac disease or have a confirmed allergy to wheat. (3) A gluten intolerance is very common and something altogether different from celiac disease, which is difficult for many people to comprehend.

Gluten is also linked to many negative reactions and conditions. This includes not only Celiac disease, but also irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other forms of digestive distress. (4) For all the above reasons, gluten-free diets are a big trend nowadays, and gluten-free products are springing up all over supermarket shelves.

However, many gluten-free products are very highly processed and refined, not to mention devoid of nutrients. As a result, consuming packaged gluten-free products doesn’t usually solve the root of most digestive problems.

For those who are sensitive to gluten but aren’t truly allergic to it, soaking, sprouting, fermenting and lightly cooking wheat products can greatly reduce their gluten content. That said, though, Ezekiel bread and other sprouted grains still contain gluten and aren’t meant for those with a true allergy to gluten (such as celiac disease).


Ezekiel Bread Nutrition Facts

According to Food For Life, the makers of one of the most popular types of Ezekiel breads, one slice (about 34 grams) of Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Bread has about: (5)

  • 80 calories
  • 15 grams carbohydrates
  • 4 grams of protein
  • 0.5 gram fat
  • 3 grams of fiber
  • 0.7 milligram iron (4 percent DV)
  • 80 milligrams potassium (2 percent DV)

As you can see, Ezekiel bread calories and Ezekiel bread carbs are relatively low. It’s not listed on this particular label, but Ezekiel bread is also rich in key B vitamins like vitamin B2, B5 and B6. Ezekiel breads also contain 18 amino acids, including all nine of the essential amino acids (phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine).

In fact, according to the United State Department of Agriculture’s Branded Food Products Database, 34 grams of Ezekiel bread contains approximately: (6)

  • 80 calories
  • 15 grams carbohydrates
  • 4 grams protein
  • 0.5 gram fat
  • 3 grams fiber
  • 0.1 milligram thiamine (8 percent DV)
  • 80 milligrams phosphorus (8 percent DV)
  • 1.2 milligrams niacin (6 percent DV)
  • 24 milligrams magnesium (6 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (4 percent DV)
  • 0.7 milligram iron (4 percent DV)
  • 0.6 milligram zinc (4 percent DV)

Potential Benefits of Ezekiel Bread

Is Ezekiel bread better for you? The reason that this bread is the healthier option over other breads has to do with its preparation, specifically that the grains used to make Ezekiel bread are sprouted. Many plant foods, especially grains, contain factors that can be toxic and mess with your gut lining. Unsprouted grains in particular contain antinutrients.

Antinutrients are compounds found in foods like grains, legumes and nuts that bind to minerals and make them unusable by the body. (7) So even though whole grains have nutrients in them, the presence of antinutrients means you don’t actually absorb most of the minerals and vitamins from the whole grains. While sprouting lessens antinutrient content, many traditional cultures also choose to ferment sprouted grains in order to further lower antinutrient content.

Sprouting and fermenting foods, especially grains and legumes, greatly increases their nutrient content and makes them more easily digestible. Probably most important, sprouting grains deactivates important nutrient blockers (antinutrients). (8) This means that compared to breads that aren’t sprouted, Ezekiel bread’s nutrients are more easily used by the body. You’re also less likely to experience digestive problems from eating it.

Compared to breads that are made with grains that aren’t sprouted, sprouted grain breads are more beneficial for the following reasons:

  • A form of complete protein: Ezekiel bread contains 18 amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, including all nine essential amino acids.
  • Increase digestibility: This happens because sprouting breaks down starches in grains and turns them into more easily digested simple sugars.
  • Increase how well vitamin and minerals can be absorbed: Sprouting breaks down antinutrients, the enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with your ability to absorb calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc found in the grains.
  • Increase the vitamin and mineral concentration: Vitamin C, B vitamins and vitamin E all become more concentrated when sprouted.
  • A high source of dietary fiber: Sprouted breads are made using a combination of sprouted whole grains and legumes, both of which have high fiber contents that help digestion and make you feel full.

 

How to make homemade Ezekiel bread

 


Potential Downsides

Ezekiel bread benefits some people, but it’s not a great fit for others. That’s mainly because it contains gluten. There are many compounds in wheat gluten that can wreak havoc in the body, including gliadins, gluteomorphins, glutenin, lectins and wheat germ agglutinin.

It’s the structure of these compounds that have detrimental health effects on humans because they create a negative reaction within the digestive tract for many people.

  • Gliadins make up the bulk of gluten and are very hard for us to digest. Worse, their amino acid structure is very similar to that of human organs, so when we develop antibodies to gliadins, our immune systems can attack our own tissues.
  • Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) is a lectin that causes severe issues for people with celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten. Sprouting wheat grains doesn’t eliminate this lectin. WGA isn’t checked for during gluten intolerance tests, and it can damage human tissues even when allergies or sensitivities aren’t present.

If you do have celiac disease, look for gluten-free grains and gluten-free products in which fermenting practices have been used. Studies suggest that sourdough bread fermentation can partially degrade gluten proteins in bread and pasta. A 2012 study found that sourdough fermentation can help reduce intestinal inflammation in those with celiac disease, and fermentation increases the nutrient value of foods. (9)

Simply put, Ezekiel bread is a much healthier option than most other breads. However, for most people who are looking to reverse disease or to reach a healthier weight, it’s typically recommended staying away from grains altogether, at least for a period of time.

Once you’re able to reach your health goals through eating a healing diet, you can try reintroducing certain whole grains and grain products back into your diet to see what kind of reaction you have. Some people do better eating grains than others. Usually the only way to know if you can tolerate grains or if you experience any sort of grain-related symptoms, such as leaky gut syndrome or gluten sensitivity, is to eliminate them altogether for a period of time.

Once you reintroduce grains, if you find that you can tolerate them well, eat grains that are sprouted and fermented, like Ezekiel bread. These types of grains have many more health benefits and less risks associated with eating them than more refined carbohydrates do.

Consuming sprouted grains on occasion is typically healthier than eating them with every meal. The same rule goes for Ezekiel bread: It can play a part in an otherwise healthy diet for some people, but it’s best not to think of it as a staple of your diet.


Ezekiel Bread vs. Whole Wheat: Why Sprouted Bread Is Better

Ezekiel bread is a sprouted grain bread so one of the biggest differences between Ezekiel breads and standard high wheat breads is that the whole wheat ones are not sprouted. Therefore, they are most likely higher in gluten and not as easy to digest as Ezekiel.

Most wheat breads in the grocery store today are highly refined, making them metabolism death foods. Don’t be fooled by the “whole grain” labeling because many products with such labels are still loaded with empty calories and hardly any nutrients. When you eat them in excess, refined grains can provide you with high levels of certain compounds that may hurt your metabolism, including gluten, starch and phytic acid.

Studies also reveal that diets higher in refined grains are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as inflammatory protein concentrations. (10)


Where to Find and How to Use

If you’re wondering where to buy Ezekiel bread, it can be found in health food stores and now even most larger chain grocery stores. Normally it’s stored in the frozen section since it contains no preservatives and goes bad more quickly than other breads.

Some of the most popular brands of sprouted bread are:

  • Food For Life (this is the company that makes Ezekiel 4:9 bread)
  • Alvarado Street
  • Manna Bread
  • Sha Sha Co.
  • Everfresh Organic
  • Silver Hills Bakery

Homemade sprouted grain breads, especially sourdough breads, can also be found at farmers markets and traditional bakeries. Ask about the preparation methods to make sure the grains were sprouted first and that what you’re buying is truly “whole grain.”

You can use Ezekiel bread just like you would in other bread for sandwiches: with eggs, for french toast… the list goes on and on.


How to Make Homemade Ezekiel Bread

Some people prefer to make their own sprouted bread to ensure they get the freshest product with the best ingredients. If you’d like to try making your own sprouted bread, look for unprocessed, untreated whole grains in health food stores (usually in the bulk section) or try buying them online.

You can sprout almost any grain, but you need to start with whole grain berries and not the kind that have been milled, rolled, flaked or prepared in other ways. Those methods prevent them from sprouting. Some of the best options to include in sprouted bread are wheat, spelt, oat groats, barley, buckwheat, brown rice, einkorn wheat, as well as various seeds like sesame, poppy, chia and flaxseeds.

The process of making homemade sprouted bread involves:

  • Soaking grains: You can do this in a large bowl or even a crockpot/slow cooker.
  • Draining the grains: You need either a strainer with small holes in it or a sleeve/cheesecloth. This step is to separate the soaked grains from the water they sit in.
  • Drying or dehydrating grains: You need to dry the grains out after they sprout to turn them into flour. You can do this by baking them at a low temperature in the oven, or some people choose to dehydrate them.
  • Grinding the grains into flour: You can either use a high-speed blender or choose to purchase a grinder specifically made for flours. There is a range of grain grinders available on the market that differ in terms of price and capabilities, depending on what you’re looking for.

Recipe for Homemade Sprouted Grain Ezekiel Bread

Ezekiel Bread Ingredients:

  • 3.5 cups of untreated/raw whole grains (try the following combination: ½ cup barley flour, ¼ cup finely ground broad bean (fava bean) flour, ¼ cup millet flour, 1 cup durum/spelt wheat flour, ½ cup finely ground lentil flour)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 2.25 teaspoons or one ¼ ounce package active dry yeast

Directions:

To make sprouted flours:

  1. Place grains into a large bowl and cover with warm water by about two inches, then add vinegar. Stir together to combine.
  2. Let the grains soak in the bowl for 18 to 24 hours, depending on the kind.
  3. Drain the grains and rinse them well. Then place them in a shallow bowl/dish/container that has a wide opening in which air can circulate. You can add 1–2 tablespoons of water for moisture, but the grains shouldn’t be soaking anymore. Leave the grains out on the countertop in a room-temperature space.
  4. Allow the grains to sit and sprout over 2–3 days (depending on the kind). Every 12 hours while they’re soaking, rinse them well. Leave them to sprout until you see tiny, cream-colored sprouts emerging at the end of the grains.
  5. Once sprouted, rinse and dry grains. Transfer the grains to the oven or a dehydrator lined with a nonstick sheets. Dehydrate the grains for 12 to 18 hours. You can either freeze the grains to use later at this point, or grind them into flour/dough to use right away. To grind them to flour in order to bake into bread, follow directions below for making bread.

To make homemade bread:

  1. Add about half of the grains to a food processor/grinder and sprinkle half the salt over. Process until the mixture comes together into a ball. Place it in an airtight, covered container. If you want your bread to have a fermented sourdough taste, leave the container at room temperature for 1 to 2 days. If not, leave it out for no more than about 12 hours.
  2. Add the yeast and knead the dough. Do this on a clean counter by sprinkling the dry yeast over the dough and kneading for no less than 20 minutes.
  3. Allow the yeast to get active by transferring the dough to a bowl and forming it into a ball. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag and let it sit for about 1.5 hours so the yeast and grains can interact, and the dough will rise.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 C). Grease a bead pan and press in your dough. Bake for about 60 minutes (or if you have a thermometer, until the internal temperature of the bread measured reaches about 180 to 190F).

Storing the bread:

Because this Ezekiel bread recipe has no preservatives in it and sprouted flour is prone to growing mold over time, it’s recommended to freeze your bread within 2–3 days of making it. You can also try making sprouted bread (or muffins, cookies, etc.) in bulk and freezing them for later.


History

Sprouted Ezekiel bread has a very long tradition that stems back to the Biblical times. Ezekiel 4:9 bread is said to be “crafted in the likeness of the Holy Scripture, verse Ezekiel 4:9.” Ezekiel 4:9 refers to a passage in the Bible that describes how to prepare sprouted bread using the grains wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and fitches (which is spelt). The passage was meant for the Israelites who would be in exile for 390 days.

Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof … — Ezekiel 4:9 (2)

It’s believed that the biblical bread recipe was intended to help people survive famine during an upcoming siege. Certain grains, like barley and millet, for example, throughout history actually were considered somewhat of a poor man’s food. This is because these hardy grains were able to last through times of drought and frosts, and when the grains were sprouted and all combined together, they made a good source of complete protein that could nurture the population.

Similar breads have been made ever since ancient times, with different cultures tweaking the recipe in various ways. For example, Essence bread is a type of ancient sprouted Hebrew bread that is made in a similar way to Ezekiel bread still today. Essence bread is said to stem back thousands of years to around the time of the 2nd century B.C.

Many other cultures have made fermented sourdough breads for centuries. Sourdough breads are made using an acidic substance that ferments when combined with grains and creates a natural yeast. These types of breads were made before cultivated yeasts even existed and result in a slightly sour taste to the bread. Ancient sourdough breads have been popular in parts of Europe since before written history! Some sources claim that a type of ancient sourdough bread was first made around the time of 3700 B.C.

So how did our ancestors eat bread without all of the health problems we see today? The wheat our ancestors ate was a more easily digested form of wheat. In addition, their diets weren’t so laden with wheat and wheat byproducts. Instead, they ate a diverse range of plant foods. Lastly, our ancestors properly processed their grains, including wheat, before eating them by sprouting and fermenting the grains.

Since then, both overexposure to wheat, in its many forms in processed foods, and the development of high-yield wheat crops have contributed to rising cases of celiac disease and gluten intolerance.


Precautions

People with celiac disease develop and pass on genes that react drastically to even miniscule amounts of gluten. Ezekiel bread contains gluten and therefore is not meant for those with a true allergy to gluten (such as celiac disease).

If you have a gluten intolerance, you may or may not find that Ezekiel bread is a healthy bread option for you. If you’ve been told to avoid gluten entirely, speak with your health care provider before adding any type of sprouted bread to your diet.


Final Thoughts

  • What is Ezekiel bread? It’s a type of sprouted bread said to be “crafted in the likeness of the Holy Scripture, verse Ezekiel 4:9.”
  • Ezekiel bread benefits mainly come from the fact that it is made with sprouted grains. Considering the fact that it’s sprouted and free of any questionable additives or preservatives (like most conventional breads), it is a better option than many other types of bread.
  • Is Ezekiel bread gluten-free? No, it is not.
  • Sprouting and fermenting grains can reduce gluten content while increasing beneficial nutritional and probiotic content.
  • Sprouting and fermenting are historical and natural methods of processing plant foods that can help to destroy or reduce their naturally occurring antinutrients.
  • Sprouting and fermenting can also help make food items more easily digestible.
  • You can sprout your own food at home, like sprouted grain bread, and it’s probably easier than you thought, too!

 Read Next: Buckwheat Nutrition & Health Benefits


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