We need to eat to stay alive, but we need to eat well to stay healthy. One of the healthiest types of food you can find is sprouts, because these tiny greens are a virtual treasure chest of nutrients. There are many different types of sprouts and each has some unique benefits to offer as well as delicious flavors to enhance the taste of many dishes.
Sprouts, in general, are exceptionally good for your health due to the following reasons:
- They are more nutritious.
Have you ever thought of how a huge oak tree can grow from a single acorn? Nature is magnificent, and one of its greatest magics is to condense life to the size of a seed. Every bean, grain, and nut has the potential to turn into a fully-developed plant because it has all the nutrients necessary for growth. This is the reason why seeds are nutritious by default, however, the essential vitamins and minerals in them are bound and they are released only when the seed is soaked and a new plant starts to grow from it. Therefore, in order to get the most nutrients from a seed, you need to make it sprout, but you should consume it before it turns into a real plant. Some sprouts can provide a dozen times more nutrients than the seed.
- They are easy to digest.
Chemicals that bind nutrients in seeds interfere with digestion. Even if they are well-cooked, they may cause stomachache and other similar problems. Sprouts, on the other hand, are free from these nasty agents, so your body can process them easily. Even people with chronic digestive issues should be able to eat some types of sprouts safely.
- They allow you to absorb more nutrients from food.
It’s true that the nutritional value of sprouts is higher, by default. However, you need to understand that sometimes eating ‘rich’ foods isn’t enough because your body can’t absorb all the nutrients they can offer. However, as this particular type of produce comes in what’s considered a ‘pre-digested’ form, your body can process it most efficiently.
- They are packed with antioxidants.
All sprouted seeds, grains, nuts, and legumes contain huge amounts of different antioxidants. Therefore, they protect your body from the biggest danger we face daily; free radicals. The damage caused by these particles is invisible, but it affects every cell in your body and weakens you from the inside, as well as speeds up the aging process.
Types of Sprouts: Benefits of Each
As a vegan or vegetarian, you are sure to have a wide collection of seeds, legumes, nuts, and grains in your pantry. All of them can be sprouted, so be sure to try this method of ‘cooking’ and see which type of sprouts you like the most.
Bean Sprouts: Easy and Tasty
The question of ‘Why sprout beans?’ shouldn’t even cross your mind as they are considered one of the healthiest foods, and each type of these legumes has a unique flavor. Sprouting them is exceedingly easy, and you are sure to grow a generous crop even on your first try.
After dried beans undergo this change, the amount of folate, vitamin C, and proteins in them increases exponentially. Vitamin C is one of the most potent and effective antioxidants known to us and folate affects the synthesis, repair, and maintenance of DNA cells. Therefore, this nutrient is essential for pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Lentil Sprouts: A Premier Source of Protein
All types of sprouts contain large amounts of proteins, but lentils are the definite leader among them. They are also extremely low on calories, so they make a perfect addition to any diet and weight loss program. If you are a vegan, incorporating them into your meal plan is a must, because you won’t be able to get these essential nutrients from animal-based sources.
Sprouted lentils are also rich in thiamine, manganese, copper, iron, and vitamin C. However, germinating them is a time-consuming process. You’ll need to soak them for 10 hours a day 4 days in a row. Rinse them twice every day.
Note that split lentils won’t sprout, so you’ll need to purchase them whole.
Alfalfa Sprouts: Enhance Bone Strength
Some types of sprouts get a huge boost in their vitamin content when compared to the original seed, but alfalfa falls into the opposite category. These sprouts are one of the best plant-based sources of bone-building minerals, calcium and magnesium. They also contain a large dose of potassium, which is an essential element for muscle health.
All in all, if you want to strengthen your body physically and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, you should learn how to sprout alfalfa seeds. This won’t be hard as they aren’t particularly demanding. They should be eaten raw because the nutrients in the sprouts are unstable and will fall apart if cooked. They taste rather delicious and crunchy, so you should enjoy adding them to salads and sandwiches. Fresh alfalfa sprouts can be stored in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Many of the alfalfa health benefits are connected to its ability to influence the production of specific hormones. If you suffer from a hormonal disorder, you should consult a doctor before including this plant into your diet.
Germinated radish seeds definitely are among the types of sprouts that get an extra vitamin boost. However, the most important health benefit they offer is their ability to assist with the removal of bilirubin. They are an invaluable health aid for the people who suffer from jaundice or its consequences.
Radish sprouts, in general, help improve liver and gallbladder function. They also reduce the risk of developing gallstones. Women should consume them regularly during menopause as this food assists with relieving its unpleasant symptoms.
Broccoli Sprouts: Cancer Prevention
Over the last decade, many laboratories and research centers started studying the unique chemical compounds found in broccoli seeds and their effect on cancer cells. It’s not a cure for this deadly disease, but according to information from Johns Hopkins University, broccoli sprouts contain huge amounts of glucoraphanin. This is a precursor compound to sulforaphane, an element that has been proven to increase the body’s resistance to cancer-causing agents.
Broccoli contains these elements as well, but in much smaller doses. Researchers claim that in order to reduce the risk of cancer with some measure of success, one would need to consume no less than two pounds of broccoli daily. However, sprouts have such a huge concentration of these elements that you’ll only need to eat between 0.4 and 3.5 ounces of them every day to achieve the same results.
Wheatgrass: Thyroid Protection
The health benefits of wheatgrass are too numerous to count. Sprouting wheat berries is something that everyone should do because this unassuming grass is delicious and literally packed with easily digestible nutrients. Juicing the sprouts provides you with an antioxidant cocktail so potent, it effectively reduces the dangerous influence of radiation. These sprouts even assist in normalizing the thyroid function, which is greatly affected by any form of radiation.
Sprouted Nuts: Facilitate Digestion
Like all other types of sprouts, nuts become more nutritious if they begin to germinate. However, sprouting them is a challenge. Usually, people prefer soaking nuts as this increases their nutritional value and helps make them easier to digest. Growing actual nut sprouts will help you discover some extraordinary flavors and ensure that even the most sensitive stomach can process them with relative ease.
Which Type of Sprouts Is the Best?
It’s impossible to answer this question because all sprouts are highly nutritious and will be a good addition to your diet. If you want to discover the full extent of their benefits, you will need to try all of them. This way, you will also discover which you personally like most, because their flavors are quite different.
Sprouts are best eaten raw, but you can also add them to smoothies, making each green cocktail much more valuable.
Basic Guide to Sprouting
One of the greatest thing about sprouting is that you can produce any types of sprouts yourself regardless of where you live. They will grow in any climate or indoors, so you can enjoy these fresh, crunchy, antioxidant-laden, and healthy foods anytime.
You don’t have to buy any elaborate seed sprouting supplies unless you want to. The most basic tools you’ll need include:
- Glass jars
- Screens or cheesecloth (to cover the openings of the jars)
- Rubber bands (to secure the cloth)
- Seeds or beans you want to sprout
With your seed sprouting supplies in place, you should do the following:
- Look over the seeds and ensure all of them are whole and healthy.
- Put the seeds in a jar and fill it with purified water so that it covers the seeds by about 2-3 inches.
- Soak for 8 hours and drain.
- Rinse the seeds and place the jars (with their openings secured by the cheesecloth and bands) in a bowl at a 45-degree angle (mouth down). Place the jars just so that the seeds don’t cover the mouth fully to allow for efficient airflow.
- Cover the whole construction with a dark cloth for 1-2 days to allow the seeds to germinate.
- Rinse and drain the seeds 2-3 times every day.
At this point, grains and legumes sprouts would be ready for consumption. However, if you are sprouting hulled seeds (broccoli, alfalfa, clover, etc.), you should move the jars someplace with an indirect light and keep the rinse-and-drain routine for up to 3 mode days.
Sprouts Food Safety Rules
The majority of sprouting guides usually focus on bean sprout safety, but all types of sprouts are subject to the same safety rules. You need to follow them in order to prevent food poisoning and other problems.
The most important sprout safety rules include:
- Use only certified organic seeds for sprouting.
Remember that the sprout will contain all the elements embedded into the seed or ban it grows from. Therefore, any pesticides and other toxic elements they might be treated with will remain. While seeds like this can be used for cooking because the heat destroys some of the dangerous elements, sprouting won’t remove them.
Even with organic seeds you must be careful and only buy from trustworthy brands as manure used on organic farms may contain dangerous bacteria,
- Handle the seeds and sprouts with care.
Prevent contamination by any outside sources. You also need to look out for mold that may occur regardless of the sprouting technique you use. Rinse seeds with filteres water only.
- Store sprouts in the fridge.
In the majority of cases, the bean sprout safety rules stipulate that sprouts keep for up to 5 days. Keep them in an airtight container in the fridge and check them every time before eating to ensure they are still good. Throw away the sprouts if they change color, become mushy, or develop an unpleasant smell.
Follow these sprouts food safety rules and you’ll be able to enjoy all types of sprouts without a risk to yourself.