Spring is a favorite season for many of us, as Earth comes back to life after the long cold winter months. In this beautiful time of the year, the seeds and bulbs wake up from their winter slumber and sprout into a fully grown plant. Sprouting is a natural part of plant life, and is also sometimes called the “living force.” During the sprouting process the nutrients of the seed or grain multiply many times in order to develop into a plant.
Sprouts have long been consumed in many cultures for nutritional and medicinal purpose. There is documented evidence that the ancient Chinese used sprouts to cure many disorders and ailments over 5,000 years ago.
Why Are Sprouts Good for You?
Sprouts are "living foods," abundant in enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Sprouts can grow in almost any climate, require no cooking, and are free of waste during preparation. These sprout nutrients are quickly absorbed by the body, and are important because:
Nutritional Powerhouse: Researchers at the universities of Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Yale and McGill found that sprouts retain B-complex vitamins in the original seed state. They also found that there was 300% increase in carotenes and a 500% increase in vitamin C versus the un-sprouted seed. Due to its abundant nutritional value, it was used during World War II to make dehydrated crackers, breads and other foods.
Easier Digestion: The sprouting process converts the starches to simple sugars and eases digestion. Furthermore, sprouts are full of living enzymes that help aid the digestive process in the body.
Better nutrient availability: Sprouting nullifies the effect of enzyme inhibitors and acids. Enzyme inhibitors are normally present in all seeds and grains as part of the plant's natural defense mechanism to survive even when eaten. Sprouting breaks these inhibitors and triggers the growth mechanism. The defense mechanism which is primarily enzyme inhibitor is neutralized during sprouting which eliminates the problems of indigestion, bloating and poor nutrient absorption.
There are many variety of grains, seeds and legumes that can be sprouted, and they do not always have to be alfalfa and Brussels sprouts in salads. According to Dr. Fuhrman sprouts are concentrated source of a variety of phytochemicals. Try mung, radish, lentils, legumes, and broccoli sprouts. The key is to include a variety and diverse plant-based foods in order to optimize the health benefits.
Quick look at certain sprouts and their benefits:
|Sprout Type||Health Benefit|
|Alfalfa||Rich source of saponins that lower bad cholesterol and stimulate the immune system.|
|Broccoli||Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, potent phase 2 liver detoxification enzymes.|
|Chick peas||43 mg of Calcium , 53 mg of magnesium, and 21.7 mg of vitamin C per cup.|
|Daikon||High in vitamin C (19.4 mg per cup) and Carotenes such as Vitamin A 149 IU.|
|Mung beans||Provides 13.7 mg vitamin C per cup, folate 63.4 mcg, Magnesium 21.8 mg.|
|Red lentils||Provides 6.9 grams of protein per cup.|
Spring Sprout Coleslaw
(Makes 4 servings)
4 cups Chinese cabbage
1 shredded beet root (medium)
1 Julienned carrot
1 cup daikon radish sprouts
2 Scallions (chopped)
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. ginger–garlic, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
1 cup Love Raw Foods™ cashew butter
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
For slaw, slice cabbage with a mandolin slicer and knife. Place in a large bowl with sprouts and carrots.
Combine cashew butter with sea salt, lemon juice, and minced ginger-garlic to make a creamy consistency.
If the mayonnaise is too thick, add some water to bring to a thin consistency. Add the scallions, sesame seeds and toss gently.
The Green Foods Bible, David Sanodval, p 139.