The Health Benefits of Sprouts
What happens if you take a seed, plant it in the ground and do not give it water? NOTHING!! If you do give it water, then it germinates and ultimately grows into a plant. Seeds are packed full of nutrients, but many of the nutrients do not become available until the seed germinates. When germination begins, all of the nutrition that the plant will need in order to grow, becomes available and sustains the seedling until it has roots of its own and can get nutrition from the soil. Many studies have been conducted on the health benefits of sprouts.
Sprouts are live food and are referred to as "complete foods". They are called this because of the high levels of complete proteins, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and plant sugars they contain. Dr. C.Y. Tsai, in a study conducted at Purdue University, "found that bean sprouts contain exraordinarily high amounts of good-quality protein."1 Another study done at Yale University found that once sprouted, seeds, grains and beans had a substantial increase in B-vitamins of up to 1300%.2
Another great health benefit of sprouts is that they are amazing cancer fighters. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University discovered that broccoli sprouts have 10 – 100 times more of broccoli’s well known cancer fighting substances than does the mature broccoli that we often consume. Broccoli contains a substance that enables the body to produce suforaphane which is a "potent inducer of phase II enzymes." This is very important because these enzymes protect the body against cancer causing chemicals – according to the study. "Extracts of three day old sprouts were highly effective in reducing the incidence, multiplicity, and rate of development of mammary tumors in demethylbenz(a)anthracene-treated rats." 3
Sprouts are very high in antioxidants. A study conducted on wheat grain at the University of Alberta found that as sprouts germinated, "the concentration of antioxidant vitamins steadily increased with increasing germination time, reaching their peaks after seven days." 4
Sprouts are very economical and ecological. Buying organic grains, seeds and beans is inexpensive and sprouting them increases their volume tremendously, providing more food, nutrition and cancer fighting properties than their unsprouted counterparts. It is easy to take advantage of the benefits that sprouts have to offer.
Growing Your Own Sprouts
Purchasing sprouts at the grocery store is an option, but they are not always fresh. Read this guide for information on growing your own sprouts and find out how simple it is to do it yourself.
Step One: Purchase organic seeds, beans or grains preferably from a refrigerated area in your health food store or even better from www.sproutpeople.com . Refrigeration or freezing will prevent the seeds, beans or grains from going rancid.
Step Two: Soak in PURE water for the amount of time specified for each particular seed. If you order from Sprout People, they will give you specific instructions for each type of seed or you can check their website for instructions. There are many books you can get from the library as well on growing sprouts. Steve Meyerowitz has some great books on this topic. If you use tap water, then the sprouts will become toxic from all of the chemicals and residues in the unpurified water.
Step Three: Rinse the sprouts in a mesh colander and drain well.
Step Four: Place the sprouts in a mesh colander or in a sprouting tray. I like to use a Sprout Master tray. Another great sprouter that is the easiest one I have found is the "Easy Sprouter" which is also available from Sprout People. You might also like to simply use a colander. Place it over a bowl so that it can continue to drain. If using a Sprout Master sprouting tray, be sure to put the drainage tray underneath the sprouting tray.
Step Five: Place a damp towel, pot lid or the Sprout Master lid over the tray or colander. Place on the kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight.
Step Six: Rinse the sprouts 2 – 4 times per day in the colander. Drain well and repeat steps 4 and 5.
Refer to a sprouting chart for specific information on how many days each type of seed, bean or grain requires for sprouting. Below is a picture of my buckwheat sprouts after two days of sprouting!!
Place the sprouts into a pan of water. Skim off any hulls. Drain the sprouts, making sure to remove any excess water. Allow sprouts to green in indirect sunlight by placing them uncovered on the counter for about 8 hours. Place in a glass container in the refrigerator. Eat sprouts within four days. Topping a salad with fresh sprouts is a great way to add enormous amounts of nutrition to an already nutrition packed meal. Soaked nuts are another great addition to a salad. Soak organic, raw nuts in pure water overnight to begin the germination process. This disables the enzyme inhibitors and releases many nutrients that would not otherwise be available. After soaking, you can rinse them and place them in the colander to sprout for a day or so if you like. Now that you know all about growing your own sprouts, you are well on your way to becoming healthier!
1. Wigmore, Ann, The Hippocrates Diet and Health Program, Avery Publishing, New York, 1984, p. 72
2. Wigmore, Ann, The Hippocrates Diet and Health Program, Avery Publishing, New York, 1984 p. 73
3. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Sep 16;94(19):10367-72
4. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2001 Jul;52(4):319-30
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