28 April 2011

Sprouts: Key Food for Health and Survival

Not only are sprouts considered to be a Super Food, they are also easy for anyone to grow inside their own home. There probably is only one food higher than sprouts for overall nutrition and that may be raw whole milk, but you can't produce your own milk unless you have a cow that you keep (not a bad idea really). Here's just about everything you need to kno
A sprouting glass jar with mung beans sproutin...Image via Wikipedia
w about sprouts and how to grow them yourself.

Sprouts Have The Highest Concentration Of Nutrition Per Calorie Of Any Food

Sprouts are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, chlorophyll and protein. They are low calorie and contain little or no fat. The fat they do contain is the healthy fat that your body needs. As some of the most nutritious foods that exist, they make a great addition to any healthy eating plan. Use in salads, on sandwiches, added to soups or stir fried with vegetables. Enjoy these nutrient-packed delicacies as a snack all by themselves or added as a garnish to a main dish. Eat them raw or cooked. Of course, as with all food, the nutritional value is greater when they are eaten raw. But eating them cooked is better than not eating them at all.

Sprouting magnifies the nutritional value of the seed. It boosts the B-vitamin content, triples the amount of vitamin A and increases vitamin C by a factor of 5 to 6 times. Starches are converted to simple sugars, making sprouts very easily digestible. You can have them fresh all year round, even when fresh vegetables are hard to find. It's easier than planting a garden outside and they're ready much quicker. You can even grow them when the ground outside is frozen solid. And the best part is that you can grow the freshest, tastiest sprouts right in the comfort of your own kitchen. It takes less than 2 minutes a day and they are ready in 3 to 7 days, depending on the variety.

You can sprout seeds, beans, grains and nuts. Some of the most popular varieties are alfalfa, broccoli, red clover, radish, mung beans, lentils, garbanzo beans and peas.

Alfalfa sprouts are what people typically think of when you mention sprouts. They are the ones you commonly see at a salad bar. Rich in phytochemicals, they protect against cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and fibrocystic breast disease. They stimulate natural killer cell activity, which strengthens the immune sustem. What's more, they are beneficial in reducing symptoms of PMS and menopause, including hot flashes. Furthermore, they contain high concentrations of antioxidants, the body's defense against the destruction of DNA which is the cause of aging. Alfalfa sprouts are abundant sources of vitamins A, B, C, E and K, the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Also carotene, chlorophyll, amino acids and trace elements. They contain 35% protein. One pound of alfalfa seed produces 10-14 pounds of sprouts.

Broccoli sprouts have just recently become popular after it was discovered that they abound with the amazing cancer-fighting phytochemical, sulforaphane. Research studies have shown that they contain 50 times more sulforpohane than fresh broccoli. What's more, they contain glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, substances that protect cells from becoming malignant, at 10-100 times greater levels than in fresh broccoli. In additon, they are sources of plant estrogens, similar to human estrogen, and so are helpful in cases of PMS, menopause, hot flashes and fibrocystic disease. Nutrient dense, they are rich sources of vitamins A, B, C, E and K, anti-oxidants, the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Also carotene, chlorophyll, amino acids, trace elements and antioxidants. Broccoli sprouts contain as much as 35% protein.

Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, can be sprouted to make delightfully delicious hummus. It is much richer in nutrients than hummus typically made from cooked chickpeas. They can also be used in salads, soups or stir fried or steamed with other bean sprouts and vegetables. These sprouts are plentiful sources of vitamins A, C and E, the minerals iron, calcium, magnesium and amino acids. They contain 20% protein.

Pea sprouts are delicious raw or cooked. They can be sprinkled on salads and added to soups. In addition, they can be steamed or stir fried with other bean sprouts and vegetables. They are rich sources of vitamins A, B, C and E, all the essential amino acids, the minerals calcium, iron and phosphorus. They contain 26% protein.

Lentil sprouts, like pea sprouts, are very tasty and can be eaten raw or cooked. Add them to salads, soups, casseroles or steam or stir fry them with other vegetables. Rich in vitamins A, B, C and E, the minerals iron, calcium and phosphorus. They contain 26% protein.

Mung bean sprouts are the ones you typically see in Oriental cooking. Mung beans should be sprouted in the dark to avoid a bitter flavor. They are ready when they are 1.5 to 2 inches long. Abundant in vitamins A, B, C and E, the minerals iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium, and amino acids, they contain 20% protein.

Radish sprouts taste just like radishes. They are great on sandwiches or in salads. Their high concentrations of phytochemicals help protect against disease. And because of their naturally occurring plant estrogens, similar to human estrogen, they are helpful with PMS, menopause, hot flashes and fibrocystic disease. These baby green vegetables are rich sources of vitamins A, B, C, E and K, the minerals potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. In addition, they also contain carotene, chlorophyll, amino acids, trace elements, and antioxidants. They have a 26% protein content.
Red clover sprouts look like alfalfa sprouts and have a mild, sweet flavor. Rich in phytochemicals, in particular genistein, which is known to prevent the formation of new blood vessels inside a tumor, in essence starving the tumor, it is protective against diseases like cancer. Red clover contains naturally occurring plant estrogens, similar to human estrogen, so they are helpful with PMS, menopause, hot flashes and fibrocystic disease. They are contraindicated with tamoxifen treatment. Please consult your physician if you are receiving this treatment before using sprouts. They contain vitamins A, B, C, E and K, the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, phosphorus and zinc, trace minerals, carotene, chlorophyll and amino acids. They contain 26% protein.

How to Grow Your Own Sprouts

Sprouts are easy to grow and take a minimum of effort. You probably already have everything you need to start your own kitchen garden.

To grow sprouts in jars on your kitchen sink, you will need:
1. a wide-mouth jar
2. screen or netting
3. a rubber band
4. a bowl to drain the jar
5. fresh water
6. sprouting seeds

Organically grown sprouting seeds are preferable. Seeds that are not specifically sprouting seeds and are not organic may be chemically treated with pesticides and those chemicals will end up in your sprouts. Two oz. of seeds will yield 1-2 pounds of sprouts, and 8 ounces of beans will yield 1 pound of sprouts. Your indoor garden will grow best when the temperature is between 65F and 75F (18C and 25C).

Step 1.
Put 1 to 2 Tbsp. of seeds or 3 to 4 Tbsp. of beans in a wide mouth jar.

Step 2.
Cover with netting or cheescloth and secure with a rubber band.

Step 3.
Rinse a couple times, then fill the jar 3/4 full with pure water, room temperature, and soak 6-8 hours or overnight.

Step 4.
Drain soak water. Rinse 2 or 3 times in cool water.

Step 5.
Invert jar and prop at angle in sink or bowl to drain.

Step 6.
Rinse 2 or 3 times twice a day in cool water.

Step 7.
Place sprouting jar in bright light, but not direct sunlight, last sprouting day to allow chlorophyll to form.

Step 8.
Enjoy In three to seven days.

Seed sprouts, like alfalfa or red clover are 1" (2.5 cm) to 2" (5 cm) long when ready. Bean sprouts, like lentils or peas are 1/4" (.5 cm) to 1/2" (1 cm) long when ready. These are more tender when small. Mung beans are 1" (2.5 cm) to 2" (5 cm) long when ready. They are best grown in the dark to prevent bitterness. They should be rinsed 3 to 4 times a day. Taste the sprouts as they are growing to see when you like them best.

Step 9.
Drain well. Cover the jar with a lid, or transfer to a covered container. Refrigerate to store.

Are Sprouts Safe?

Sprouts have been grown and eaten for over 5000 years. They are a concentrated storehouse of phytochemicals which protect against disease. These mini vegetables are some of the healthiest and safest foods available today.

In 1995 there were 2 outbreaks of salmonella poisoning that were attributed to alfalfa sprouts. Both of these outbreaks were traced back to contaminated seed that was imported from the Netherlands. Consequently, sprouts received a lot of bad publicity and children and people with compromised immune systems were advised to avoid them.

But, is there really cause for concern about the safety of sprouts? Let's look at the facts and put things in perspective. The cases of salmonella poisoning related to alfalfa sprouts amounted to 1/3 of 1% of all the cases of salmonella poisoning for that year. Ninety-three percent of all the cases of salmonella poisoning were attributed to meat. Seven percent resulted from shelfish, fresh fruits and vegetables. Is there any government agency telling you not to eat meat, shellfish or fruits and vegetables?

The protective measures that the FDA is taking to assure the safety of sprouts includes bleaching sprouting seeds to kill any contaminants and irradiating sprouting seeds. Irradiation of commercially grown sprouting seeds to reduce microbial pathogens has already been approved. But beware. The sprouts grown from these seeds are not required to be labeled as irradiated. Only organically grown seeds cannot be irradiated. So if you want to be sure not to purchase irradiated seeds, make sure you get organic ones.

Sprouts are safe for everyone. It's the way they are handled that could cause a problem. Those related to the salmonella outbreak were commercially grown. Organic seeds have never been implicated in a single case of salmonella poisoning. Certified organic seeds are handled in a manner that minimizes any possiblity of contamination. Choosing only organically grown sprouting seeds and growing your own sprouts will give you one of the safest, healthiest, most nutritious foods available anywhere.

Books About Sprouting

The Broccoli Sprouts Breakthrough: The New Miracle Food for Cancer Prevention by Deborah Mitchell presents information of purchasing and growing your own broccoli sprouts, their nutritional benefits and recipes using these and other cancer-fighting foods.

Sprout Garden - Revised Edition by Mark Matthew Braunstein gives the latest information on growing every kind of sprout and all the different methods.

Sprouts The Miracle Food: The Complete Guide to Sprouting by Steve Meyerowitz is a step-by-step guide to growing 30 different varieties of sprouts. Also included are illustrations and comprehensive nutrition charts.

The Sprouting Book by Ann Wigmore tells how to grow sprouts by various different methods. It also includes recipes.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to insure the accuracy of the information presented on this web page. However, nothing on this web page should be construed as medical advice or used in place of medical consultation. Please consult your physician or seek out the services of an alternative health care provider knowledgeable in nutrition.

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1 comment:

Erin J said...

We have been growing our own alfalfa, clover, and broccoli sprouts for the last 3yrs. It is cheap and easy. Very nutritious. The kids love them as well. I put them on there sandwiches. I have even put them in our smoothies as well.