If you're a raw foodie or even just an occasional vegetable eater, you should be sprouting!
Sprouts are living food! You can grow them indoors no matter the time of year and have a bountiful supply to add to your meals any time you want. Sprouts add life energy and sparkle to salads, sandwiches and stir-fries; they top off soups and stews; they boost the nutrition found in every meal.
Your body will love these little bundles of concentrated nutrition: sprouted seeds provide all 22 amino acids (the building blocks of protein), vitamins (including vitamin B12) and many minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron. They are also a great source of enzymes which are essential for digestion.
Sprouts have the power to prevent and reverse the effects of aging, disease and stress on our bodies so it's no wonder that they're commonly known as 'Superfoods'!
Seeds and beans contain a natural protective coating which keeps them dormant until conditions are favorable: the right temperature, moisture and oxygen. They also contain an enzyme called amylase. When we soak the seeds overnight in water, it begins to dissolve and soften this coating. This softens the seed itself making it easier for us to digest too.
This process is known as 'germination' and when we eat these recently germinated seeds; their enzymes help to predigest our food in much the same way that our own digestive juices do. The nutrients are broken down into smaller 'building blocks' which means that they can be absorbed more easily.
As well as being easier to digest, the nutrients have also become more bioavailable. As most of these powerful antioxidants are contained in the outer coatings of seeds and beans, germination helps to unlock them for us to benefit from. So when you eat sprouts you get a good dose of all the key elements needed for perfect health.
Sprouted seeds are also considered 'living food' because they are highly alkaline which is important in maintaining proper metabolic function and reducing acidity in the body. They help to reduce inflammation in the digestive system, particularly if your gut flora isn't correct or if you suffer from ulcers or colitis: one small cup of alfalfa sprouts contains more than seven times the recommended daily value of vitamin K!
Sprouts are also a nutrient-dense food that's packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals plus they're relatively low in calories. One cup of alfalfa sprouts contains just 16 calories!
Alfalfa sprouts are one of the best seeds to sprout as they're easy to grow, extremely versatile and contain many essential nutrients.
However there are lots of other seeds that you can sprout too. You can grow any bean or seed that hasn't been treated with a chemical such as preservatives and fungicides: here's a small list:
Mung beans: these sprouted seeds give us protein, B-vitamins, vitamin C and K plus minerals such as calcium and manganese. They also contain antioxidants such as phenols which improve our ability to digest food properly. There is evidence which shows that mung beans help treat cardiovascular disease too by lowering cholesterol levels.
Beetroot: these are easy to grow and contain lots of vitamins (A, C and B) plus calcium, folic acid and potassium. They also contain antioxidants such as betalains which can help protect against heart disease.
Broccoli sprouts: these tiny little seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch! They're high in vitamin C with one cup containing more than seven times the recommended daily amount. Plus they're rich in beta-carotene which is an antioxidant that converts into Vitamin A with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. When you sprout broccoli seeds you get so much more too because broccoli contains sulforaphane which has been shown to have anticancer properties, particularly for prostate cancer cells.
Cress: this superfood contains antioxidants such as quercetin which have been shown to be effective against cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. It's also a rich source of vitamin A, C and K plus iron, magnesium and calcium.
Mustard: this is a great sprout to grow as it's so versatile! It provides lots of fiber, B-vitamins, iron, manganese and calcium for healthy bones too. Quercetin levels are particularly high in mustard seeds as well as glucosinates that have been shown to be effective against prostate cancer cells too. In fact recent studies have shown that eating just 1g of mustard can increase quercetin intake by up to 384%.
Radish and Red Cabbage: these sprouts contain glucosinates which have been shown to inhibit the growth of different cancer cells. Plus they're a great source of antioxidants and vitamins such as beta-carotene, vitamin C and K plus B-vitamins too.
Aduki beans: these contain lots of soluble fibre which can lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels making them useful for preventing cardiovascular diseases like stroke and heart attack. Aduki beans are also an excellent source of protein, B-vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium and manganese too.
Lentils: these are one of the most nutritious seeds to sprout (and one of my personal favorites!) as they're rich in soluble fibre, protein and many essential nutrients including iron, magnesium and folate. They can reduce inflammation in the colon which may help with conditions like IBS. They also contain quercetin which acts as a powerful antioxidant helping to protect against cancer and heart disease. Plus lentils have been shown to lower cholesterol levels which helps guard against cardiovascular disease too.
These are just several types of sprout you can grow. Seeds that have similar properties are often sprouted together so that their flavors compliment each other well. For example, mung beans plus lentils and aduki beans create a wonderful flavor combination when mixed together for sprouting.
Sprouting is an incredibly easy process. It's as simple as choosing the seeds you'd like to sprout, soaking them in water for a few hours or overnight and then leaving them out on a tray or strainer to sprout! At first they'll look like little tails growing from the seeds, within 2-3 days these tails will have developed into leafy green shoots with white leaves.
My first book Living on Live Food contains a detailed chapter plus a chart for sprouting a variety of beans, seeds or just search online for a wealth of information on sprouting!
Happy growing! xo