Sprouts Nutrition

November 06, 2012

Sprouts can be an excellent source of nutrition, find out the various seeds that can be sprouted into nutritious additions to any meal

We’ve heard a lot about the cons of eating sprouts – they can be contaminated with dangerous bacteria and this is enough to keep us away from this healthy and crunchy food. Most recently Kroger stopped selling sprouts in their stores all-together, and Walmart had made the move to remove sprouts from their offerings back in 2010.

Purchasing sprouts from a trusted source, as well as taking care to keep them properly refrigerated could pack a huge nutritional punch to just about any savory dish.  Sprouts have been used for thousands of years for both culinary and medicinal uses. Sprouts were first studied in the US during World War II by Dr. Clive M. McCay, Professor of Nutrition at Cornell University. He was studying the soy sprout and was delighted to find such a powerful, nutritious food that could be produced year-round in 3-5 days. He also found that sprouts retain the B-complex vitamins present in the original seed, and show a big increase in vitamin A and vitamin C over what’s present in unsprouted seeds.
What seeds can be sprouted? It’s not just alfalfa and mung bean sprouts (commonly used in Asian dishes), in fact broccoli, red clover, radish, mustard, lentil, sunflower, onion and more can be sprouted and enjoyed for their flavor and health benefits.
Each type of sprout boasts it’s own unique health benefits as well as rich flavor:
Broccoli sprouts became an overnight sensation in the ‘90s when scientists at Johns Hopkins University found the cancer fighting chemical (sulforaphane) in broccoli was present in even higher concentrations in broccoli sprouts. The sprouts are also thought to boast anti-bacterial properties as well as other benefits from powerful phytochemicals. Broccoli sprouts have a mildly peppery flavor.
Mung bean sprouts have long been a component of Chinese cuisine, quickly sautéed as a vegetable. They are rich in protein, fiber, iron, and potassium and of course vitamin C!
Alfalfa sprouts became popular in the ‘70s in the United States as part of an overall trend towards fresh food and healthy eating. They are 35 percent protein, and a great source of vitamins, A, C, E, K and the B complex. They also have as much carotene as carrots!
Clover sprouts are composed of 30 percent protein, and are a great source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, and are the most significant dietary source of isoflavones, a plant nutrient known for it’s many health-boasting properties.
Sunflower sprouts are heartier like mung bean sprouts and are a great source of lecithin and vitamin D. Their nutty flavor is great for sandwiches or wraps.
The list goes on about the various sprouts health benefits, and the flavors vary by type from spicy to mild, crunchy to delicate. Sprouts make great replacements for lettuce on sandwiches, great toppings for salads, tossed in a juice or smoothie, a crunchy addition in tuna or egg salad, or to top a soup, and more.
The International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA), is working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other groups to create better safety protocols, including sampling and testing to insure sprouts are not contaminated with pathogens.
Information for this article was sourced from ISGA and Sprout People.