Why and How to Grow Sprouts
What if you could improve your health by having access to highly nutritious, extremely affordable, fresh food every day?
No matter if you live in an area with a short growing season, an apartment or in a "food desert,” you can enjoy the many benefits of sprouting seeds, year round.
You can grow sprouts in just a few days, on just a few inches of counter space, with an investment of only a few dollars.
What are sprouts? A sprout is produced when a seed begins the process of growing into an adult plant. Sprouts are a raw, living food that provide a highly concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll and other health enhancing compounds, unique to each variety.
Growing your own sprouts can be done in the comfort of your own kitchen. And you don't need any gardening experience. All you need is a jar, a lid that allows air flow, some seeds and clean water.
Why do it?
Sprouts provide the body with many essential nutrients
While it varies based on type, in general, sprouts contain vitamins A, B, C, K, a significant amount of protein and fiber, and small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
In some varieties, vitamins are increased by as much as 20 times during the sprouting process, while some go even higher. For example, grains and legumes are not considered a main source of vitamin C. However, when sprouted, they contain significant quantities of this vitamin.
The vitamins, minerals and protein content in sprouts increase while calories and carbohydrate content decrease.
Sprouts provide the body with digestive enzymes
When we are low in enzymes, our entire health and wellbeing are negatively affected, as enzymes are the foundation of every process in our body. These special proteins help speed up all of the body’s functions and play an especially important role in digestion, by helping break down food and increasing the absorption of needed nutrients by the digestive tract.
It is estimated that sprouts contain 100 times more enzymes than fruits and vegetables. For maximizing the enzyme concentration, the sprouts must be eaten during the period of high enzyme activity, which is generally between 2-7 days of sprouting.
Sprouting breaks down anti-nutrients
Many seeds, nuts and legumes contain anti-nutrients, substances that inhibit the absorption or use of other nutrients. Plants create these anti-nutrients to allow the seeds to pass through the digestive system of an animal intact and then spread when eliminated through feces.
Grains, for example, contain phytic acid, which hinders mineral absorption. Other seeds contain substances such as lectins and saponins, which can damage the intestinal lining, leading to leaky gut and overall poor nutrient absorption.
When seeds are soaked, sprouted or fermented, many of these anti-nutrients are disabled.
Sprouts have numerous health benefits
Recent research shows sprouts have important healing properties. Certain sprouts varieties contain high amounts of plant compounds called phytochemicals, which protect us against disease.
The International Sprout Grower's Association has created a document highlighting some of the most significant studies surrounding the health benefits of sprouts.
Sprout consumption has been linked with improved cardiovascular health, prevention of heart disease and stroke, decreased risk of cancer and allergies, improved bone mineral density and fetal health, increased DNA protection against free radicals, improved diabetes, Parkinsons disease, arthritis and much more.
Which seeds can I sprout?
Just about any seed can be sprouted. Choose organic seeds that have not been chemically treated, roasted, cracked or milled. It is best to purchase seeds that have been labeled for sprouting, to minimize the risk of any dangerous bacteria. Avoid bulk bins.
Some of the most common sprouts are:
Beans and pea sprouts: lentils, mung bean, soybean, black bean, adzuki , green pea, snow pea, garbanzo
Grains: brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, oats, amaranth
Vegetables or leafy sprouts: broccoli, radish, beet, mustard green, clover, alfalfa, cabbage
Nuts and seeds: almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seed, sunflower seeds, barley, cress
Do not sprout kidney beans as they are toxic.
Check out this video to learn how to sprout
A word of Caution
Please note that the warm, humid conditions it takes to grow sprouts also happen to be the perfect conditions for growing dangerous bacteria. Minimize the risk of any illness by purchasing seeds labeled for sprouting and thoroughly clean all the materials used for sprouting and your hands. Refrigerate your sprouts as soon as they are ready and consume them within 3-5 days.
How to eat sprouts?
Sprouts can be easily added to your diet by adding them to salads, soups, sandwiches, stir-fries, sautéed vegetables, pastas, smoothies or eaten as-is. Just remember that some of the nutrients are lost when they are heated so do your best to eat them in their raw form.
Enjoy and let me know in the comments if you have any great recipes or other tips for sprouting!
If you are wanting to sprout different seeds at the same time, in a small space, this space saving Deluxe Kitchen 4 tray seed sprouter is a great one to own. You can stack as many as 10 trays on top of each other. The seeds don’t clump, like they might do in a regular jar, and your sprouts will be ready in 3-5 days.
For wide mouth mason jars, this kit with jar lids and sprouting stands are a great option. They work great for draining water from the sprouts.
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