First let’s be clear. I’m not talking about Brussels sprouts! I’m referring to different types of sprouts. I’m referring to the tiny white shoot (primary root) that emerges when a seed, bean or grain begins to germinate and begins to grow into a vegetable.
Let’s talk about sprouts benefits.
Sprouts are fresh, vibrant and nutrient-dense
Sprouts are unmatched for their nutritional content and health benefits. They really are in a class of their own. If you are looking to take your diet to the next level but have not included Sprouts – you’re certainly missing a trick! If you have any health issues or just want to look your best, Sprouts are a wise addition to any healing or rejuvenation protocol. As super food sprouts benefits are so many but let’s discuss the nutritional value first.
Soaking your seeds to boost mineral absorption
Dry seeds are dormant, but have all the nutrition they need to grow. Soaking seeds, beans and grains neutralises phytic acid and initiates the sprouting process.
Dry seeds, beans, grains and nuts are high in phytic acid (also known as phytates). Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient. Not only does it prevent early germination, it also blocks mineral absorption by binding to essential nutrients stored within the seed, i.e. magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and copper. Bound nutrients are difficult to access and digest and absorb. This can cause mineral deficiencies, resulting in weak bones and tooth decay, as calcium is leached from bones to make up the deficit.
As sprouts begin to grow (germinate), phytase (an enzyme that breaks the bond between phytic acid and essential minerals) is activated, making the free nutrients readily available. Germination also initiates chemical changes that produce significant amounts of key nutrients such as amino acids, Vitamin A, some B vitamins and Vitamin C that nourishes and sustains the sprout as it grows.
Types of sprouts
There are 3 types of Sprouts:
- Seeds Sprouted seeds tend to be wispy, delicate tendrils e.g. sesame, radish, broccoli, alfalfa, red clover etc.
- Beans or legumes Sprouted beans tend to have a crisp, crunchy texture with a delicate sweetness e.g. mung beans, lentils, adzuki beans peas, etc. Please note: the following examples cannot be eaten raw and must be cooked. These are kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans and haricot beans.
- Grains Sprouted grains tend to have a firm, chewy texture e.g. rye, buckwheat, oats, barley etc.
Tree nuts Tree nuts like almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts will not sprout but are soaked for a period of time to activate and increase their nutritional content. An overnight soak swells and plumps up the dry nut, seed, bean or grain to approx. twice its original size.
Summary: from seed to fully-fledged superfood
- After a period of soaking in warm water for up to 12 hours, your seeds, beans or grains are ready to be sprouted. Please be mindful of food safety while sprouting. Do not overwater your sprouts. Always make sure the water drains away so your sprouts don’t become waterlogged, develop mould or breed bacteria.
- The seed produces enzymes, allowing it to access nutrients stored in the seed coat.
- The growing seed is nourished by complex carbohydrates and proteins that are converted to simple sugars and amino acids.
- These nutrients allow the seed to grow quickly, producing a little sprout (the primary root) in a few days.
Sprouts benefits: what makes sprouting so beneficial?
The enzymes released by sprouting seeds not only aid digestion by neutralising phytic acid, but act as catalysts to convert complex carbohydrates and proteins within the seed to simple sugars and amino acids that are easier to digest. This reduces some of the negative effects of bloating and wind that we often experience after eating beans and whole grains. Sprouts are also a great source of fibre. The process of sprouting also supports the production of vital digestive enzymes. This helps to replenish our store of ever-dwindling enzymes, maintaining vitality and increasing healing potential.
High in easily accessible nutrients, sprouts provide raw materials to build a robust immune system. Being rich in fibre, they also regulate blood sugar levels, helping with weight loss.
Grow sprouts indoors and have fresh food all year round
The ability to grow food is a survival skill that is well worth mastering, like learning to swim. Of course, it’s great if you have an allotment or a garden where you can grow your own food. However, if you haven’t got access to outdoor space you can still grow high quality produce. In fact, the quality of the nutrients found in sprouts is far superior than can be found in even the most nutritious raw vegetable.
Some ideas for using your sprouts
Sprouts are more than just an afterthought …. More than just a pretty garnish sprinkled atop your favourite meal. Yes, they are small, but they are mighty too. Here are some great ideas for what to do with your live-and-kicking super Sprouts:
- Make a salad with tomato, cucumber, spring onions and fresh herbs. Instead of lettuce, trying adding some sunflower microgreens. Microgreens are just sprouts that have been allowed to grow for a longer period.
- Make a great tasting raw version of tabbouleh with mung bean sprouts, tomato, spring onions, mint and parsley.
- Add a handful of fresh alfalfa sprouts to the blender when making your favourite smoothie.
- Supercharge your soups and stews by stirring in a cup of lentil sprouts right at the end of cooking.
- Instead of roasted peanuts, snack on mung beans and adzuki beans when you get the munchies!
- Add alfalfa, broccoli or red clover sprouts to your sandwiches and wraps. Broccoli sprouts are well-known for their cancer-fighting chemicals.
- Sprinkle some sprouts atop your favourite meal. Try radish sprouts if you enjoy strong, peppery flavours.
- Add some sprouted beans to stir fries, or add to fried rice at the end of cooking.
- Add grain sprouts to your favourite salads for a chewy, textured bite.
Six reasons to create your own indoor vegetable garden
- Sprouting is economical: The seeds are good value for money and are easy to grow.
- Simple equipment: As well as the seed, bean or grain of your choice, you will need something to grow it in. You can use a glass jar, a sprouting tray with a lid or a sprouting bag. To water the seeds (if you are using a tray) you will need a spray bottle. This equipment is all you really need to kickstart your indoor vegetable garden.
- Minimal space required: Just give your sprouts a cosy little corner on your kitchen windowsill and they will grow happily with just a little water and some sunlight.
- Fast and fresh: From seed to sprout, they are ready to harvest within 3-10 days. Nothing beats them for freshness and vitality!
- Superior nutrition: The nutrient density of these feisty little powerhouses more than makes up for their small stature. Nutrient dense foods satiate and satisfy. Overeating is often a sign that we’re craving nutrients lacking in our diet. Powerful urges to overeat take over, in an effort to obtain nutrients to maintain necessary bodily functions.
- Revitalise & rejuvenate: Sprouts are alive and carry an energy and vitality that only living foods can boast of. When you eat them, you will become vital and alive too! during consumption, sprouted foods are alive and still growing; and like any living entity, they carry an energy and life-force. This vitality is transferable and rejuvenating with a capacity to rebuild, retard aging and slow cellular decay.
I hope you’ve found this article useful and are inspired to grow some lovely sprouts of your own. There’s nothing quite like seeing the little shoots appearing on your sprouts after a few days of watering. Magic!
Take care…. Patricia x
The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's