Malt is a usual ingredient in beer, cereals, sweet treats and milkshakes. Although it is commonly used as a sweetener or flavor-enhancer, it has several health benefits to offer the human body.
What Is Malt?
Malt is a type of cereal grain that undergoes a drying process called malting. It is first soaked in water and dried with hot air to stop its germination, as explained by Dr. Axe. It would then produce enzymes that break starches and transform them into sugars. Others are converted into amino acids that are commonly used by the yeast.
Malt may either be diastatic and non-diastatic. The former contains active enzymes while the latter has deactivated enzymes due to the heat processing. They are then categorized into brewers such as specialty malts and base malts. The latter have fermentable sugars while the former is used to enhance flavor of beers.
Dietician Jillian Greaves, MPH, RD, LDN, says malt contains essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids and dietary silicon that support bone health. According to a study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, the processing of malt improves the nutritional quality of pearl millet, which has more fiber and protein content and reduced total fat composition.
Improves Heart Health
Malt also improves heart health by regulating your cholesterol levels. A study which involved the feeding of rats with malted barley showed that the lab subjects had lower levels of bad LDL and VLDL cholesterol compared to wheat bran. Other research suggested that barley can even reduce belly fat, body mass index and waist circumference, but more research is needed to confirm all of these.
Stimulates Better Mood
A study published in Scientific Reports found that malt stimulates good mood and improves mental health due to its hordenine component. The compound is found in barley which generates mood-elevating effects, especially when consumed through beer. Hordenine activates a specific dopamine receptor in the brain that promotes better mood.
The process of malting also increases the digestibility of cereal grains. This process reduces antinutrient content which is responsible for slower digestion and nutrient absorption. As per a study published in the Journal of Food Research, a combination of malting and fermentation was found to be an effective treatment for sorghum and pearl millet by improving the digestibility of protein. It also minimized tannins and phytate antinutrient levels.