Lets hear it for sprouting!
“Wanted! A vegetable that will grow in any climate, will rival meat in nutritive value, will mature in 3-5 days, may be planted any day of the year, will require neither soil nor sunshine, will rival tomatoes in Vitamin C, will be free of waste in preparation and can be cooked quickly and with little fuel.”
It might sound like the stuff of fantasy, but this this dramatic announcement by Clive M. McKay, Professor of Nutrition at Cornell University, USA is genuine and sparked considerable interest in sprouts during World War II. But it is only in the past thirty years that ‘Westerners’ have become interested in sprouts and sprouting.
Sprouts for Optimum Nutrition
Sprouting requires no constant care but only an occasional sprinkle of water. All edible grains, seeds and legumes can be sprouted. Most popular ones are:
– Grains: Wheat, maize, ragi, bajra and barley.
– Seeds: Alfalfa seeds, radish seeds, fenugreek seeds, carrot seeds, coriander seeds, pumpkin seeds and muskmelon seeds.
– Legumes: Mung, Bengal gram, groundnut and peas.
Other than meat and dairy, what other ways can we get our protein? We can’t eat fish all the time. Beans and grains are a time-honored way to get plenty of protein with low fat, high fibre and no cholesterol. There is an exponential increase in the nutritional content of sprouted foods as compared to their dried embryo.
In the process of sprouting, the vitamins, minerals and protein increase substantially with corresponding decrease in calories and carbohydrate content. The process of germination increases vitamin B content, especially B2, B5, B6 along with Carotene. It not only produces vitamin C, but also changes the composition of grains and seeds in numerous beneficial ways.
We know that nuts, seeds, grains and beans are nutritional powerhouses, however the natural agents (that protect them from early germination) can create havoc in our digestive system. Sprouting overcomes these disadvantages.
Neutralizes phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors
Phytic acid in some legumes is really hard to neutralize. It binds with calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc, making it difficult for you to absorb those nutrients. By sprouting you are neutralizing phytic acid very effectively. You will also be neutralizing enzyme inhibitors, which would otherwise not only inhibit enzymes in the actual seed, but our own valuable enzymes that aid digestion.
There are other beneficial changes that take place during sprouting that make it easier for us to digest our seeds/legumes/grains. They supply food in predigested form, that is food which has already been acted upon by the enzymes and made to digest easily. During sprouting, much of the starch is broken down into simple sugars such as glucose and sucrose by the action of the enzyme ‘amylase’.
Additionally, proteins are converted into amino acids and amides. Fats and oils are converted into more simple fatty acids by the action of the enzyme lipase. Basically, when you eat sprouts, they literally digest themselves – leaving your body free to work on more important things!
Sprout to de-gas
Sprouting helps the beans lose their objectionable gas producing characteristic. Research has shown that oligosaccharides are responsible for gas generation. Undoubtedly, some amount of gas is crucial for good health, but it should be within certain safe limits.
As the process of germination ends and sprouting begins, the oligosaccharides are reduced by 90 %. Also, Sprouts contain a lot of fiber and water and, therefore, are helpful in overcoming constipation.
Sprouts to increase alkalinity
The body functions best when the pH of its internal environment is approximately 7.4, meaning slightly alkaline (The acid-alkaline diet for optimum help by Christopher Vasey). Unfortunately, consumption of too many acidic foods, as well as external stress causing factors can make our body more acidic. By sprouting grains and legumes, you are helping them become a more alkaline, thus striking a crucial balance between acid and alkaline foods.
Sprouts are loaded with phytochemicals which have important health benefits. Some of these nutraceuticals are:
– Plant Estrogens: hot flashes, menopause, osteoporosis and PMS
– Saponins: Raises HDL Sterols reduce cholesterol
– Anti-oxidants: Anti-aging. Vitamin C, polyphenols
– Electrolytes: Hydration, Sodium and potassium salts
– Trace minerals: Sulfur, Zinc, Manganese, Iodine, Iron, Selenium
– Bio-Flavonoids: Cancer Prevention
– Quercetin: inflammation
– Carotenes: over 600 different carotenoids
– Indole: Anti-inflammatory, precursor to Neurotransmitters Serotonin, Melatonin
– Isoflavones: Anti-estrogenic, Helps Breast Tumors
– Sulforaphanes: Protective Enzymes Inhibit Tumor Growth
– Phytosterols: Cardiovascular disease. Lowers total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL
– Flavone Tricin: Relaxes smooth muscle tissues. Cramps and colic
– Adaptogenic herb: Balances estrogen levels in blood, high or low
– RNA, DNA: Synthesizes Protein
How can we reap these benefits?
1) Add to salads
2) Stir-fry with other vegetables (add towards end as nutrients are heat labile)
3) Blend into fruit shakes or juices or vegetable juices
4) Mix with soft cheeses for a dip or grind up and use in sandwich spreads
5) Stir into soups or stews when serving
6) Mix into pancake or waffle batter
7) Top omelet or scrambled eggs
8) Add to sushi or baked beans
One my favorite recipe is crepes made from Green Gram Lentil Sprouts ( Moong Dal- I prefer using the one that has just sprouted)
Grind the sprouted Green Gram lentil it into a smooth paste with as little water as possible to make a smooth batter without any lumps or grits. Add green chilly, ginger, coriander leaves, salt as desired.
– Pour the batter on the griddle like you would for a crepe and use the same spoon for spreading into a thin crepe. Drizzle olive oil at the sides and in the center.
– Flip the crepe a couple of times till both sides are well cooked and browned.
– Use any chutney as dip, preferably coconut.
I would love to hear how you use sprouts, please leave a comment. Meanwhile Sprout away for optimum nutrition!
Connect with WatchFit Expert Harmeet K Sehgal