When we say “sprouts” in December, your mind probably jumps to Brussels sprouts. They are a favorite winter and holiday dish for many. But, today, we’re looking at the benefits of eating sprouts — the germinated seeds of beans, grains, legumes, nuts and veggies. They’re often found in salads and on sandwiches. They are easy to grow at home, and they are excellent for health.
Sprouts are something most of us don’t think of. They seem like just an extra bit of green in a salad or sandwich. And, if you do like them, you probably buy them. But, they are one food we think is absolutely worth the step of making yourself. To make sprouts, you wash your seeds well and then soak the seeds of things like alfalfa, broccoli, chickpeas, lentils, wheatgrass for eight to 12 hours, then tie them in a damp, clean cotton cloth until they sprout little stems. It makes them easy to digest and get nutrients from. While it might take a little work, store-bought sprouts can be covered in bacteria. The fact that they have to be grown in a warm, damp environment can breed bacteria. They can be a source of food poisoning. Store-bought sprouts have been linked to multiple outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. So, if you use store-bought ones, you should cook them rather than eat them raw.
Sprouts are highly nutritious. One hundred grams of sprouts have just over 100 calories and contain 7.6 grams of fiber and 14 grams of protein. The combination of fiber and protein means that those 100 calories are more satiating than 100 calories of most other snacks! And, their high amount of fiber can help blood sugar. One study found that broccoli sprouts can improve insulin resistance.
Sprouts are packed with vitamins and minerals. The exact composition varies between plants. They’re all low in fat and sodium. They contain nutrients like vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, magnesium and phosphorus. They are also good sources of antioxidants. They can contain higher amounts of nutrients than the grown versions of the same foods!
When you enjoy sprouts, it’s always important to consider their risk for carrying bacteria. If they are musty, sticky, slimy or smell, throw them away. Always keep them refrigerated below 40 degrees and rinse your sprouts before adding them to your dish. Enjoy them as a way to add extra texture and nutrients to your meals!