Benefits of Sprouts: For more than five millennia, sprouts have been a staple of Chinese cuisine, and they have recently gained popularity in the West as well. While sprouts may appear to be the same, they are actually a diverse collection of foods. Bean sprouts, grain sprouts, and salad sprouts can be found in farmers’ markets, health food stores, and grocery stores across the country.
Sprouts are young plants harvested just a few days after they germinate. These greens are well-known for their health benefits, and many people believe they can help with a variety of health issues. While science backs up some of these sprouts’ health benefits, more research is needed.
A cup of fresh alfalfa sprouts contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 8
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 1 gram
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Sugar: Less than 1 gram
Sprouts are a great source of:
Sprouts are also an excellent source of Vitamin K. This vitamin is essential for bone growth, blood clotting, and a variety of other bodily functions.
Sprouts and Their Potential Health Benefits
Sprouts are high in a variety of essential nutrients. While the specific nutrient ratio varies depending on the type of sprout, they all have high levels of folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin K. They actually have more of these nutrients than fully grown versions of the same plants.
Moreover, sprouted foods, such as sprouted tofu or soy milk, contain more protein and less fat than other forms of these foods.
While sprouts have many nutritional benefits, research also suggests that eating sprouts may have the following potential health benefits:
Reduced Blood Sugar Levels
People with diabetes may find that eating sprouts helps them better control their blood sugar levels. Sprouts have been shown in studies to lower blood glucose levels. This could be the result of two distinct processes.
First, sprouts contain fewer carbohydrates than unsprouted seeds and grains, which may aid in insulin control. This, in combination with the presence of enzymes in the sprouts, affects how the body breaks down carbohydrates. More research is needed, however, to determine the true cause of this effect.
Better Digestive Health
Eating sprouts may improve your digestive health. According to many studies, sprouting a seed significantly increases the amount of fiber it contains. Much of this fiber is “insoluble” fiber, which means it doesn’t dissolve in your stomach. Instead, it acts as a prebiotic and feeds the “good” bacteria in your intestines. These bacteria are important for maintaining a stable, healthy digestive system, and can help reduce symptoms like bloating and gas.
Heart Health Improvements
Including sprouts in your diet may also benefit your heart’s health. Several studies have shown that eating sprouts can help people with diabetes or obesity lower their cholesterol levels. According to one study, there was an increase in “good” HDL cholesterol as well as a decrease in triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol. Lower cholesterol levels are linked to a lower risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis.
Sprouts’ Potential Dangers
Sprouts are nutritious, but that does not make them a risk-free food. Before eating sprouts, keep the following in mind:
Because of their delicate nature, sprouts are typically consumed raw or only lightly cooked. As with most raw foods, sprouts are a potential vector for foodborne illnesses caused by E. coli.
Sprouts, on the other hand, are more vulnerable than other types of food. The warm, moist conditions required for seed sprouting are also ideal for the growth of dangerous bacteria. As a result, since 1996, the FDA has linked 48 individual outbreaks of foodborne illness to raw or lightly cooked sprouts.
You can avoid food poisoning by taking the following precautions:
- Never buy or consume slimy or odorous sprouts.
- Maintain a temperature of less than 48 degrees Fahrenheit at all times for sprouts.
- If you want to make sprouts at home, use extreme caution with sanitization.
- Sprouts should be rinsed before eating.
- Before handling sprouts, always wash your hands.