They may not look like much, but surprisingly, sprouts are packed with nutrients and offer many health benefits.
What exactly are sprouts? Before a vegetable or bean plant begins to grow, it develops sprouts. During the sprouting stage, the sprouts contain a high concentration of vitamins and minerals. Sprouts are often used in cooking, and the most commonly used sprouts are those of the alfalfa, soy and bean plants.
Sprouts contain high amounts of protein and dietary fiber, as well as vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, zinc, iron, calcium, essential enzymes and more. Here are just a few of the potential health benefits of sprouts.
- Improve digestive processes: High in fiber and enzymes, sprouts help boost the metabolic processes and chemical reactions within the body that aid in the digestive process.
- Boost metabolism: In addition to the enzymes, sprouts are also high in protein, which helps keep the body’s metabolism up, burning more fat and calories.
- Prevent anemia: Iron is essential in maintaining healthy red blood cell count and circulation in the body. Sprouts are rich in iron as well as copper, which also helps maintain red blood cell count.
- Aid weight loss: Unlike many foods, sprouts are high in nutrients and low in calories, the ideal combination for weight loss.
- Lower cholesterol: Sprouts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
- Reduce blood pressure: The potassium content in sprouts acts as a vasodilator, releasing tension in arteries and blood vessels and helping to reduce blood pressure.
- Reduce cancer risk: The vitamin C, vitamin A, amino acids, proteins and other antioxidants found in sprouts help reduce the number of disease-causing free radicals in the body.
In addition to the numerous health benefits of sprouts, they are also inexpensive and readily available at nearly any grocery store.
Are you missing out on sprouts because you aren’t quite sure what to do with them? Toss sprouts into your garden salad or top your sandwich with a handful of sprouts. Here are a few delicious sprout recipes to try:
- 1 cup of bean sprouts
- 1 Tbsp. tahini
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 clove garlic (add more or less to taste)
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
- Hot sauce of your choosing (optional)
Mix all ingredients to desired consistency using a food processor. Enjoy with sliced vegetables or pita.
- 1/2 cup cabbage, chopped
- 2 potatoes, cut into small cubes
- 1 or 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup spinach, chopped
- 1 summer squash, chopped
- 4 cups sprouted beans
- 1 cup uncooked pasta
- 1 quart tomato puree or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. basil
- 1 Tbsp. parsley
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- salt to taste
- Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional)
In a large pot, combine the sprouted beans, vegetables, pasta and tomato puree or stock. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook 15-20 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, make a paste of the oil, garlic and herbs using a mortar and pestle, blender or food processor. Top the soup with the paste and some Parmesan or Romano cheese. Serve with garlic bread or whole wheat bread and butter.