In the last decade, there has been an increase in the use of sprouted grains in human diet and a parallel increase in the scientific literature dealing with their nutritional traits and phytochemical contents. This review examines the physiological and biochemical changes during the germination process, and the effects on final sprout composition in terms of macro- and micro-nutrients and bioactive compounds. The main factors affecting sprout composition are taken into consideration: genotype, environmental conditions experimented by the mother plant, germination conditions. In particular, the review deepens the recent knowledge on the possible elicitation factors useful for increasing the phytochemical contents. Microbiological risks and post-harvest technologies are also evaluated, and a brief summary is given of some important in vivo studies matching with the use of grain sprouts in the diet. All the species belonging to Poaceae (Gramineae) family as well as pseudocereals species are included.
(Se) is an important micronutrient for living organisms,
since it is involved in several physiological and metabolic processes.
Se intake in humans is often low and very seldom excessive, and its
bioavailability depends also on its chemical form, with organic Se
as the most available after ingestion. The main dietary source of
Se for humans is represented by plants, since many species are able
to metabolize and accumulate organic Se in edible parts to be consumed
directly (leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, and sprouts) or after processing
(oil, wine, etc.). Countless studies have recently investigated the
Se biofortification of plants to produce Se-enriched foods and elicit
the production of secondary metabolites, which may benefit human health
when incorporated into the diet. Moreover, feeding animals Se-rich
diets may provide Se-enriched meat. This work reviews the most recent
literature on the nutraceutical profile of Se-enriched foods from
plant and animal sources.
The contents of total Se and of inorganic and organic Se species, as well as the contents of proteins, chlorophylls, carotenoids, and phenolic acids, were measured in 10-day old sprouts of rice ( Oryza sativa L.) obtained with increasing levels (15, 45, 135, and 405 mg Se L) of sodium selenite and sodium selenate and with distilled water as control. Increasing Se levels increased organic and inorganic Se contents of sprouts, as well as the content of phenolic acids, especially in their soluble conjugated forms. Moderate levels of sodium selenite (i.e., not higher that 45 mg L) appeared the best compromise to obtain high Se and phenolic acid yields together with high proportion of organic Se while limiting residual Se in the germination substrate waste. Se biofortification of rice sprouts appears a feasible and efficient way to promote Se and phenolic acid intake in human diet, with well-known health benefits.
Sprouts and microgreens have attracted tremendous interest across multiple disciplines in recent years. Here, we critically review the most recent advances to underscore research prospects and niches, and related challenges, not yet addressed or fully pursued. In particular, we report a number of themes that merit special attention as a result of their relevance to plant science, nutrition, health, and zootechnics: (1) species not yet or inadequately investigated, such as wild plants, and fruit tree strains; (2) abiotic and biotic factors, and biostimulants, for elicitation strategies and metabolic engineering; (3) sanitization and processing technologies to obtain high-quality products; (4) digestive fate and impact of bioactive elements, antinutrients, and allergens on human nutrition; (5) experimental challenges to researching health benefits; (6) the opportunity to generate natural product libraries for drug discovery; and (7) sprouts in animal feeding to improve both animal health and the nutritional value of animal products for the human diet. The convergence of different themes involving interdisciplinary competencies advocate fascinating research pursuits, for example, the elicitation of metabolic variants to generate natural product collections for identification and selection of bioactive chemicals with a role as nutraceuticals, key constituents of functional foods, or interactive partners of specific drugs.
The use of sprouts in the human diet is becoming more and more widespread because they are tasty and high in bioactive compounds and antioxidants, with related health benefits. In this work, we sprouted rapeseed under increasing salinity to investigate the effect on free and bound total phenolics (TP), non-flavonoids (NF), tannins (TAN), phenolic acids (PAs), and antioxidant activity. Seeds were incubated at 0, 25, 50, 100, 200 mM NaCl until early or late sprout stage, i.e., before or after cotyledon expansion, respectively. Sprouting and increasing salinity slightly decreased the bound fractions of TP, NF, TAN, PAs, while it increased markedly the free ones and their antioxidant activity. Further increases were observed in late sprouts. Moderate salinity (25–50 mM NaCl) caused the highest relative increase in phenolic concentration while it slightly affected sprout growth. On the contrary, at higher NaCl concentrations, sprouts grew slowly (100 mM NaCl) or even died before reaching the late sprout stage (200 mM). Overall, moderate salinity was the best compromise to increase phenolic content of rapeseed sprouts. The technique may be evaluated for transfer to other species as a cheap and feasible way to increase the nutritional value of sprouts.
Total phenolic content (TPC), reducing power (RP), superoxide radical scavenging (RS), and thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) production inhibition were measured in raw and denatured aqueous extracts from sprouts and wheatgrass of einkorn and emmer obtained at increasing salinity. Grains were incubated and kept at 0, 25, 50, and 100 mM NaCl until either sprout or wheatgrass stage. Additionally, a recovery treatment was included, in which sprouts obtained at 100 mM NaCl were then transferred at 0 mM NaCl until wheatgrass stage. All parameters (TPC, RP, RS, and TBARS production inhibition) increased with sprouting and were highest in wheatgrass. Salinity increased all parameters, but the effect varied with NaCl concentration, genotype, developmental stage, and plant material processing (raw or denatured). Overall, given the delay and limitation of growth at high NaCl concentration, the best compromise appears to be the application of a moderate salinity (25 to 50 mM NaCl). In denatured extracts, TPC, RP, and RS slightly decreased, and TBARS was not affected, which means that antioxidant activity was mainly related to compounds other than enzymes and peptides, and thus it can be assumed to remain after digestion. Thus, supplementing the human diet with einkorn or emmer sprouts and wheatgrass can actually benefit health.
Germination is related with improvements of nutritional value of seeds, since it promotes accumulation of health-promoting phytochemicals. However, only few studies have investigated on phytochemicals accumulation during sprouting under sub-optimal conditions. Thus, we investigated the effect of salinity during germination of an einkorn (TMoM), an emmer (TDiZ) and a durum wheat (TDuC) genotype on the total polyphenols (TPC), free-and bound-phenolic acids [PAs; i.e. caffeic acid, syringic acid, Pcoumaric acid, trans-ferulic acid, and salicylic acid] contents and antiradical activity (Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity; TEAC) of sprouts and wheatgrass. The following NaCl treatments were applied: 0 (control), 25, 50 and 100 mM NaCl concentration throughout the whole experiment, or 50 and 100 mM NaCl until sprout stage and then 0 mM until wheatgrass stage (recovery treatments). TMoM showed higher total bound-PAs both in sprouts and wheatgrass with respect to the other Triticum genotypes (+25% and 24%, respectively) as well as of total bound-PAs and bound-SA in the recovery treatments. Moderate salt stress significantly increased all the investigated variables in TDiZ. Salt stress induced higher TPC and TEAC as well as total free-PAs values till 50 mM NaCl in TDuC, whilst significantly lowered total boundPAs due to the negative variation of both P-CA (-84%) and trans-FA (-81%) acids. Results indicate that salinity during germination could be efficiently modulated to improve the nutritional quality of sprouts, wheatgrass and cereal-based products.
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