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.
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.
Most types contain no added sugar, no preservatives and no artificial ingredients, unlike most other commercial breads.
Why is Ezekiel bread healthy? 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 may even be less concentrated with gluten.
What Is Ezekiel Bread?
Ezekiel bread is a type of sprouted grain bread. It get’s its name from a recipe that is based on a section of the Bible, making it a top 10 Bible food. According to one maker, Food For Life, “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.”
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.
Ezekiel bread ingredients typically include the following: 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.
Is Ezekiel Bread Gluten-Free?
Gluten-free diets are a big trend nowadays, and gluten-free products are springing up all over supermarket shelves. But 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. While the soaking and sprouting process, and lightly cooking wheat products can reduce their gluten content, they won’t completely remove it.
According to recent research, for those who react negatively to eating gluten, even if they don’t have celiac disease, it’s best to avoid gluten-containing grains and products from the diet. People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other forms of digestive distress may also have trouble consuming a high amount of fiber and seeds in whole grain breads.
Ezekiel Bread vs. Whole Wheat
One of the biggest differences between Ezekiel breads and standard whole wheat breads is that the whole wheat ones are not sprouted. Therefore, un-sprouted breads may have less bioavailable nutrients, possibly more gluten, and not be as easy for some people to digest.
Most wheat breads in the grocery store today are highly refined, so don’t be fooled by the “whole grain” labeling. 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.
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:
- 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)
Is Ezekiel bread low in carbs? And in case you’re wondering: can you eat Ezekiel bread on the keto diet?
Ezekiel bread calories and carbs are relatively low. However, if you follow the ketogenic diet, you likely avoid any and all grains. That means no breads.
If you switch to a cyclical keto diet or carb cycling diet, certain sprouted grain breads may be acceptable on your carb-loading days.
It’s not listed on this particular label, but sprouted breads are also a decent source of B vitamins like vitamin B2, B5 and B6, plus it contains 18 amino acids, including all nine of the essential amino acids (phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine).
Is Ezekiel bread vegan? Yes, most types are, since they contains no dairy, butter or eggs (you’ll want to check the ingredient label for honey).
1. Sprouting Helps Improve Digestibility of Nutrients
The reason that this bread is the healthier option over most 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 defined as compounds found in foods like grains, legumes and nuts that bind to minerals and make them unusable by the body. 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.
Sprouting and fermenting foods increases their nutrient content and makes them more easily digestible. It also breaks down starches in grains and turns them into more easily digested simple sugars.
Probably most important, research shows that sprouting grains deactivates nutrient blockers (antinutrients). 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.
2. Good Protein Source
Ezekiel bread contains 18 amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, including all nine essential amino acids.
3. Improves Vitamin/Mineral Content
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. This means it increases how well vitamin and minerals can be absorbed:
Vitamin C, B vitamins and vitamin E also seem to become more concentrated when sprouted.
4. Good Source of 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.
Risks and Side Effects
Usually the only way to know if you can tolerate grains and wheat gluten is to notice if you experience any sort of grain-related symptoms, such as leaky gut syndrome or gluten sensitivity.
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. If you do have celiac disease, look for gluten-free grains and gluten-free products in which fermenting practices have been used.
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.
Where to Find
Which type of Ezekiel is the healthiest bread? In terms of where to buy Ezekiel bread, look at major grocery stores, places like Trader Joe’s (who make their own sprouted wheat bread), and in health food stores.
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.”
How to Store
Do you have to keep Ezekiel bread refrigerated? Are you supposed to keep Ezekiel bread frozen?
Normally it’s stored in the frozen section in grocery stores because it contains no preservatives and, therefore, goes bad more quickly than other breads.
Sprouted flour is prone to growing mold over time, so it’s recommended to freeze your bread within 2–3 days of making it. Otherwise store it in the refrigerator to prolong freshness.
You can also try making sprouted bread (or muffins, cookies, etc.) in bulk and freezing them for later, which will keep them fresh for several months.
How to Make
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 grains and seeds to include in sprouted breads are: wheat, barley, spelt, oat groats, buckwheat, brown rice, einkorn wheat, as well as various seeds like sesame, poppy, chia and flax seeds.
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.
Homemade Ezekiel Bread Recipe
- 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
To make sprouted flours:
- Place grains into a large bowl and cover with warm water by about two inches, then add vinegar. Stir together to combine.
- Let the grains soak in the bowl for 18 to 24 hours, depending on the kind.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 C). Grease a bread 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).
- 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 nutrition 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; sprouted grains still contain gluten and aren’t meant for those with a gluten allergy (celiac disease) intolerance.
- Sprouting and fermenting grains can reduce gluten content and enzyme inhibitors, while increasing beneficial nutritional and probiotic content. Because it decreases antinutrients it may make grains more easily digestible.