(BeWellBuzz) Some call sprouts ‘the fountain of youth’. Others claim they are harmful. So, who is right? Or, perhaps there is some truth in both statements. Read on to know if you should add sprouts to your daily diet.
To understand the truth about sprouts, we must take a closer look at the benefits and risks associated with it.
Health experts claim sprouts are the best among all ‘health foods’. The claim, as you will see, is not unjustified.
Sprouts are an excellent source of nutrients. In addition, they also exhibit some very important curative abilities. Let us first see the five most important health benefits of sprouts.
Health benefits of sprouts
- High concentration of vitamins
Nearly all sprouts are rich in essential nutrients. Sprouts contain Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B1, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C. They are also a superb source of minerals like calcium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium.
- Good source of antioxidants
Sprouts are rich in antioxidants, which strengthen our immune system and reduce the risk of various diseases.
- Potent source of proteins
Most people think one can get protein only from egg, fish, dairy products, chicken, and meat. However, this is not the case. Sprouts are as good a source of proteins as these foods, if not better. The protein concentration in sprouts ranges between 20%-35%, which is extremely high. The main advantage of eating sprouts is that they give you proteins minus the calories, cholesterol, and fat that meat products usually contain.
- Contain chlorophyll
Sprouts that reach the green leaf stage are rich in chlorophyll, a green compound which is a potent blood builder and blood cleanser.
- Potent source of enzymes
Sprouts are rich in enzymes, which are essential for good health. The high content of enzymes and fiber in sprouts also aids the digestion process.
We have seen the numerous health benefits that sprouts provide. Now, let us familiarize ourselves with the healing abilities of these foods.
Curative abilities of sprouts
- Beneficial for the treatment of certain cancers
Early studies on canavanine, a type of amino acid found in sprouts such as alfalfa, has shown that it is beneficial for leukemia, pancreatic, and colon cancer patients.
- Prevents osteoporosis
Sprouts are an excellent source of plant estrogens, which boosts bone formation and decreases the rate at which bone tissues break down.
- Beneficial for patients with heart disease
High cholesterol is one of the main causes of heart disease and arteriosclerosis. Animal studies conducted on saponins, a compound found in alfalfa, have shown it to be beneficial against heart disease and arteriosclerosis. Saponins reduce only the LDL (the bad cholesterol- not HDL, which is the good cholesterol).
- Curbs the effects of aging
Sprouts contain antioxidants, which slows the process of aging.
Raw sprouts may cause food poisoning
Sprouts have been linked to a few controversies, all of which revolve around its potential to transmit bacteria, toxins, and other harmful chemicals. The two bacteria that are commonly linked with raw sprouts are E. coli and Salmonella.
E. coli can cause illness, with symptoms such as severe and persistent abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea. E. coli has also been known to cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, a disease that affects infants and young children and is characterized by symptoms such as acute renal impairment, extensive bleeding, and temporary anemia.
Salmonella can lead to salmonellosis, a type of food poisoning whose symptoms include diarrhea, fever, chills, muscle pain, vomiting, abdominal pain, and nausea.
FDA advises people not to eat raw sprouts
In 1998, FDA issued a warning stating older people, children, and people who have a weak immune system should not eat raw sprouts. This came after many cases of food poisoning linked to sprouts were brought to the FDA’s attention.
In 1999, FDA went a step further and extended its warning to include everyone. This warning is still in effect.
Should we consume only cooked sprouts?
Cooked sprouts do not present any danger of food poisoning, as the bacteria and harmful chemicals are eliminated completely at high temperatures. The downside, however, is that so are the most of the nutrients.
Sprouts are recommended because they are rich in essential nutrients, antioxidants, proteins, and other useful elements. When you cook them, most of these healthy nutrients are removed. That is why eating cooked sprouts is not a good option.
What should we do?
Raw sprouts are healthy and have curative abilities, but may cause foodborne illnesses. On the other hand, cooked sprouts obviate the risk of food poisoning, but cooking at high temperatures also removes most of the essential nutrients present in sprouts. In such a scenario, what should we do? Is there no way we can eat raw sprouts minus the risk of foodborne illnesses?
Yes, we can. What you need to understand that only those sprouts that are grown in an unclean environment and are not rinsed well before consumption cause food poisoning. You can easily avoid the risk of illnesses by following these instructions-
Instructions for people who want to grow sprouts at home
- Purchase only organic certified sprouting seeds.
- Treat the seeds before planting them. For this purpose, add a few drops of 3 percent foodgrade hydrogen peroxide to water, and heat the solution for a few minutes. Next, dip the seeds in the solution for 5 minutes
- Sanitize containers before planting sprouts in them
Instructions for people who want to do the sprouting themselves
- Treat the seeds before sprouting them. For this purpose, submerge the seeds or legumes in a solution of hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes (do not heat the solution)
- After 30 minutes, take the seeds or legumes out and rinse them thoroughly with normal tap water.
Tips for people who want to buy sprouted seeds
- Purchase sprouts that look fresh and smell good
- Avoid sprouts that are brown, smell funny, or have water at the bottom of the container
Among the three, the best option is to grow the sprouts at home and do the sprouting yourself. If you cannot do both, at least try to do sprouting yourself.
Sprouts offer numerous health benefits. Embrace sprouts wholeheartedly, but with a tinge of caution.