Sprouts: A Powerhouse of Nutrition
by Stacey Tress
Sprouts have been a vital source of nutrition for numerous civilizations over the past 5,000 years. They are a powerhouse of nutrition, having the highest amount of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes of any food per calories unit. Wheatgrass juice is the closest known thing to hemoglobin and is therefore a phenomenal blood purifier and liver detoxifier. Sprouts are 10 to 20 times more nutritious than their mother vegetables.
- Sprouts are pre-digested foods because all their nutrients have been broken down into their simple forms. Digestion and assimilation are much easier on the body. Protein breaks down into simple amino acids, fat into simple essential fatty acids, and carbohydrates into simple sugars. This also makes for more easily absorbed protein. They are very high in enzymes which are essential to our body because they control all the metabolic processes within the body—enzymes also help break down food into smaller compounds. Enzymes also elevate cellular frequencies creating better immunity. The enzyme “account” in our body is replenished by the living food, especially sprouts, as the enzymes get reabsorbed into the blood.
The National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Health both recommend eating 5–10 fresh fruits and vegetables every day. A great way to help reach that goal is to include sprouts.
- Sprouts are the only form of agriculture that can be locally grown and available in all four seasons. These “baby” vegetables are grown from seed to salad in only a week. In fact, one pound of alfalfa seed will yield 10–14 pounds of fresh mini-salad greens. Whether you are on top of a mountain or in a bunker with artificial light, you can still grow this fast, organic food.
- Yes, it is fast food, but you won’t be sacrificing any nutrition. Alfalfa sprouts have more chlorophyll than spinach, kale, cabbage, or parsley. Alfalfa, sunflower, clover, and radish sprouts are all 4% protein. These foods all have about 90% water. But meat and eggs are the protein foods for Americans. Meat is 19% and eggs are 12.5% protein (and 11% fat). But soybean sprouts have 13% protein, and lentil and pea sprouts have 9%. Soybean sprouts have more protein than eggs and only about half the fat.
- Because it’s cheap and my family loves them. My family LOVES to eat sprouts and be a part of the process; whether
jar sprouts or growing microgreens. Get the kids involved! My girls love to snack on the “Crunchy Bean Mix” and sunflower microgreens. We buy our organic sprouting seed from www.sprouting.com.
Health Benefits of Some Popular Sprouts
Anti-Cancer Properties Alfalfa sprouts are rich in canavanine, an amino acid analog known to be beneficial in fighting leukemia, pancreatic and colon cancer as well as fibrocystic breast tumours.
Lowering Bad Cholesterol Levels Alfalfa sprouts are rich in saponins, a chemical compound believed to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels while maintaining good cholesterol (HDL) levels.
Improving Heart Health Saponins are also believed to reduce atherosclerosis (the hardening of the arteries) and other cardiovascular diseases due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Anti-Inflammatory Properties The anti-inflammatory properties of saponins are believed to help prevent strokes, reduce the inflammatory process in arthritis, and lower chronic inflammatory disorders.
Rich in Antioxidants Alfalfa sprouts are known to be one of the vegetables with the highest amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants are crucial in boosting the immune system as well as fighting free radicals. Antioxidants have long been known to lower the rate of cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
Immune System Booster Studies have shown that saponins also play a role in the immune system by boosting the activity of natural killer cells, T-lymphocytes, and interferons.
Weight-Loss Properties Alfalfa sprouts not only taste delicious but are also low in calories. They are rich in protein and fibre, making this vegetable a great alternative to greasy, fatty foods, which means it can help efforts to lose and control weight.
Improving Bone Health Estrogen, a compound found in alfalfa sprouts, is believed to help increase bone formation and improve bone density, therefore helping prevent osteoporosis.
Radish sprouts have four times more Vitamin A (391 IU vs 126) than milk. These spicy sprouts have ten times more calcium than a potato (51mg vs 5mg), and contain more vitamin C than pineapple. If you examine what is happening during germination, it looks like a vitamin factory. While the mature organic radish vegetable from your backyard contains 8 IU/100g of provitamin A, the 5-day-old radish seedling (sprouts) contain 391 IU. That’s 39 times more vitamin A! No wonder sprout lovers say you can feel the vitamins!
Daikon and radish sprouts have phytochemicals with anti-cancer potential; the concentrations of glucoraphenin (detox enzyme) were highest in the seed. DNA damage is associated with cancer risk. Sources of DNA damage include diet-related carcinogens and bodily processes like oxidative stress, and the raw sprouts protect against this kind of damage.
Broccoli sprouts are in the same family as cauliflower and cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable. A half-cup serving of broccoli sprouts provides 16 calories, 1.4g of protein, 1.9g of carbohydrates, less than 1g fat, 0g of sugar, 0mg of cholesterol, 2.88mg sodium and 1.1g dietary fibre, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Thirty-five percent of the calories in broccoli sprouts come from protein. This vegetable is low in calories but rich in nutrients essential for human health, such as vitamins A, C, E, and calcium, among others.
Broccoli is a good source of many nutrients, and according to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, some of those nutrients are concentrated in broccoli sprouts. Broccoli in both its sprout and grown forms is a good source of vitamins C, K, A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folate, and E. Broccoli also contains the minerals manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. In addition, this nutrient powerhouse can supply the body with omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, and protein.
- Glucosinolate glucoraphanin helps improve blood pressure and kidney function. It also boosts cell enzymes that protect against molecular damage from cancer-causing chemicals.
- Sulforaphane, a metabolite of the glucosinolate glucoraphanin, has been shown to normalize DNA methylation—a crucial part of normal cell function that allows cells to “remember who they are and where they have been.” It’s also important for regulating gene expression, and this compound has been found to play a role in activating more than 200 different genes. Sulforaphane also has anti-diabetic and antimicrobial properties, and kills cancer stem cells, which slows tumour growth (and also why this sprout is so darn expensive to buy).
- Isothiocyanate, a specific sulforaphane compound, has very strong anti-cancer benefits, sparking hundreds of beneficial gene changes. This compound activates some genes that fight cancer, and switch off other genes whose job it is to aid in tumour growth.
Clover sprouts provide a multitude of health benefits, but their capacity as a blood tonic is a major specific attribute.
Their dark green leaves indicate abundant chlorophyll. Some women have had relief from hot flushes and menopausal symptoms by including this chlorophyll-rich superfood in their daily diet.
This superfood’s abundant chlorophyll has been attributed to correcting protein-deficiency anemia.
Along with alfalfa, this wholefood is a preferred choice in many detoxifying regimes, especially as juices.
They also contain the most significant dietary sources of isoflavones of any superfood variety. Isoflavones have been credited with anti-cancer properties and are strong anti-oxidants.
Sunflower greens are considered a healing sprout. They contain a full spectrum of amino acids and are a great source of vitamin D. They are also rich in chlorophyll.
Pea greens eliminate accumulated deposits on arterial walls and are also an excellent source of chlorophyll and protein. A six-ounce glass of sunflower and pea greens juice will provide a three-day supply of needed protein.
Mung bean and adzuki sprouts contain high mineral content, and sprouting them makes for easy digestion. Mung beans are great for your nails and hair!
Salad and Spicy mix sprouts are a mixture of leafy green sprouts such as alfalfa, clover, arugula, mustard, radish, carrot, and rapini. They are considered healing sprouts because they are high in enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. These sprouts on average contain ten times the nutrition compared to their mother vegetables.
Fenugreek sprouts are great for digestive problems and for elimination. They will also take away bad body odours and are great for milk production! (Hey, mamas!)
Soaking beans, legumes, and nuts breaks down the phytic acid which blocks enzyme absorption and allows better assimilation of minerals. Very essential to those who consume a vegetarian diet based primarily on beans and legumes.
Want to Learn How to sprout?
Garden Therapy Yorkton (that’s me, Stacey!) offers public and private workshops in Canada, especially in Saskatchewan and area. Contact me for more info and to book your next workshop! If you happen to be on Facebook, check out my page “Garden Therapy Yorkton” and the album “Adventures in Sprouting” for inspiration tips and more!
2 cups soybeans
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
5 tbsp miso
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp favourite herbs (optional)
Yields: 5–6 patties
Here’s a hearty dish for those of you who want something to “stick to your ribs.” Not only is it meatless, it is wheatless. Great for helping ease the transition to a vegetarian diet.
Start by soaking 2 cups of soybeans in pure water for 10 hours and sprouting them in a sprout bag or jar. Rinse x 2 per day for 3 days. The sprouted tails should be at least the size of the bean, if not longer. Place the beans in a pot of pure water and bring to a boil. Let simmer on a low flame for about 1 hour or until soft.
Drain and cool, then mash the bean sprouts to a paste. Once a pleasant texture (we love our Vitamix for this! ~Stacey), add the garlic, miso, onion, sunflower seeds, and tahini.
Shape into patties 3 inches by 1/2 inch high. Cover a flat non-aluminum cookie sheet with corn meal (or sesame oil). Lay the patties down and bake for approximately 1 hour at 250ºF. They should be firm and brown when done. Store what you cannot eat in the fridge. They should last for up to six days.
Top with your favourite microgreens, fixings, and mayo! Enjoy.
Sprouts The Miracle Food, Steve Meyerowitz
The Hippocrates Diet, Ann Wigmore
The Sprouting Book, Ann Wigmore
*Recipe: Sprout McBurger from the Kitchen Garden Cookbook, Steve Meyerowitz
Stacey Tress, a Holistic Nutritional Therapist (HNT) and Young Living Essential Oil Distributor (#2282633), lives in Yorkton, SK with her husband and two daughters. She is the owner of Garden Therapy Yorkton which offers fermentation workshops, permaculture design work, organically-grown produce, and more! She also offers essential oil support and carries a wide variety of Young Living Essential Oils and products for sale. To learn more, call 306-641-4239, email: email@example.com, www.gardentherapyyorkton.ca, or on Facebook “Garden Therapy Bliss.” Also see the display ad on page 9 of the 23.1 May/June issue of the WHOLifE Journal.