Reprinted from: Vegetarian Zen
When you hear the word, “Malt”, what do you think of? If you’re like most people, you probably think of malted milkshakes, beer, malt liquor, or maybe malted milk balls. We never really thought of malt as a healthy supplement, but we were wrong!
Malt is germinated cereal grain (usually barley because of its high enzyme count) that has undergone the process of “malting”–the grain is germinated by soaking it in water and then dried with hot air. So malt is, essentially, sprouted grains. Sprouting grain in this way releases enzymes, unlocking the grain’s nutritional power.
Malt can be further processed to produce liquid or powder sweeteners called malt extracts that are used in beverages (beer, malted shakes, energy drinks), baked goods (cakes, pretzels, bread), cereals and snacks (protein bars, yogurts, confections), and other foods.
The origin of malt can be traced back to early Egypt and was more than likely used as an ingredient in beer way back then.
What are some of the benefits of malt?
- Malt contains more than 5 times the antioxidant power of fresh broccoli and nearly 50 percent more than blueberries
- Because it’s made with whole grains, malt is not an empty sugar–it contains antioxidants, essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals
Supports Digestive Health
- Malt is a rich source of soluble fiber, which helps improve digestion by optimizing good bacteria and minimizing bad bacteria
Promotes Heart Health
- Malt has been shown to lower cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of heart problems
- Athletes are increasingly relying on malt extract-based beverages to replenish and recover after exercise
- Malt extract contains hordenine, a plant-based, naturally occurring compound that has been scientifically shown to improve mood
What are some healthy ways to consume malt?
Malt extract can be used as a natural plant-based sweetener in breads and other foods. It has a lower glycemic impact plus with the benefits of vitamins and minerals. It is a little less sweet than table sugar so you may need to play around with quantities to get the right taste in your recipes.
Want to hear more about malt?
If you want to learn more about malt, check out our interview with registered dietitian Jilian Greaves, who talks in-depth about some of the benefits of incorporating malt into your diet.