Spent brewer's grain: what is it? what are its health benefits? why is it usually wasted?
What is it?
Confused about what spent grain is? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one! Allow us to explain… when producing beer, brewers soak malted barley to give the beer body and flavour. This malted barley is mashed to extract protein, sugar and nutrients. The resulting liquid is used to make beer and the spent grain is left behind. ‘Spent’ indicates that the grain has already been used, meaning it cannot be used in the process to produce more beer. Put simply, it’s the waste leftover after breweries have produced beer.
Spent grain makes up 85% of the total by products produced by the beer brewing process. On average, an estimated 39 million tonnes of spent grain waste is produced globally each year… yep you heard right! But it’s not all doom and gloom. At Upcycled Grain Project we minimize the amount of waste created by upcycling this leftover spent grain into a range of sustainably delicious snacks.
These little grains may be small but they are oh so mighty! They are packed full of nutritional benefits. By adding just 10% of spent grain to bread, the protein content of that bread increases by 50%, and both the essential amino acids and fibre contents increase by 10%, in comparison to bread that doesn’t contain spent grain. So what’s the big deal? Read on!
What are the benefits?
Fibre makes up almost half of the spent grain’s composition which is important in promoting and maintaining a healthy digestive system.
Spent grain is composed of roughly 20% protein. A number of essential amino acids can be found in Spent Grain. These amino acids either can’t be produced by the body, or they cannot be made at a rate fast enough for the body. Of particular note is the presence of lysine which accounts for almost 15% of the total protein content – most other cereals lack lysine.
Spent grain is an important source of phenolic compounds, which are recognized as natural antioxidants. These compounds reduce the risk of Type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.
Why was it wasted?
You may be wondering if spent grain is really that good for us, then why the heck is it wasted? Spent grain has a high moisture content, making storage and transportation difficult. Luckily, we’ve found a way around this so that you can reap the benefits of these grains.
We almost forgot – upcycling these grains isn’t only awesome for your health, it’s awesome for the planet’s health too. Reducing food waste has been recognized as the number one effective solution to global warming. By rescuing these grains and upcycling them, we see less of them wasting away.
So, what are you waiting for? Become a sustainable superhero today and try some of our sustainably delicious snacks that are good for you and even better for the planet!