Sprouts – a nutritious super food – are easy to grow on your own. They add flavour and crunch to sandwiches, salads and soups. Cooking and processing food destroys many micronutrients by altering their shape and chemical composition. Eating sprouts raw keeps all the nutrients intact. The sprouting process tends to increase nutrient content and bioavailability of nutrients. Sprouts also contain valuable enzymes that allow your body to absorb and use the nutrients of all other foods you eat. By now we know that diet plays a key role in keeping our immune systems healthy. A healthy body is alkaline and sprouts have a wonderful alkalizing effect.

Alfalfa Sprouts Contain Saponins

One of the significant health benefits of alfalfa sprouts are attributed to their saponin content. Saponins are plant molecules that when ingested act within the intestinal tract and do not enter the rest of the body. Saponins flush pathogens through the gut without allowing them to be absorbed. Alfalfa sprouts have about eight percent saponin content according to commercial sprout growers. Interestingly, the sprouting process increases the saponin content of the alfalfa sprouts 450% above the level of that in the alfalfa seed. Sprouts offer:

  • Support for cell regeneration
  • Powerful sources of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and enzymes that protect against free radical damage
  • Alkalinizing effect on your body, which is thought to protect against disease
  • Abundantly rich in oxygen, which can also help protect against abnormal cell growth, viruses and bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment

Health Benefits Of Sprouts

  • Sprouts can contain up to 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and vegetables, allowing your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats from the foods you eat
  • Both the quality of the protein and the fiber content of beans, nuts, seeds and grains improves when sprouted
  • The content of vitamins and essential fatty acids also increase dramatically during the sprouting process
  • During sprouting, minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, bind to protein, making them more bio-available
  • Sprouts are the ultimate locally grown food, and can easily be grown in your own kitchen
  • Sprouts are a good source of essential fatty acids that play a major role in the immune system defenses.
  • When sprouts are grown to the chlorophyll rich two-leaf stage, it has been shown they have been effective in overcoming protein-deficiency anemia
  • Some women have found that daily consumption of sprouts has given relief from hot flashes
  • The amount of vitamins B complex and C in seeds can be increased 100% to 2000% by sprouting over several days

Planting And Harvesting Sprouts At Home

You can grow sprouts in large jars on your kitchen counter. Growing sprouts in a jar is easy:

  1. Place one to two tablespoons of seeds in a wide-mouthed jar, and cover with approximately two inches of warm water. Let this sit overnight
  2. Drain the water, using a fine sieve or cheesecloth
  3. Rinse the seeds by adding water to the jar, swishing the seeds around, and draining
  4. Repeat twice a day, every day until your sprouts are the desired size. This will take anywhere from three to seven days, depending on the variety of sprout you're growing. Sprouts are best when they're still fairly small and just starting to turn green
  5. Store your sprouts in a covered bowl or food storage bag with a paper towel inside to absorb excess moisture. Use the sprouts within a week

Types Of Seeds To Sprout

Some of the most commonly sprouted seeds include:

  • Broccoli – known to have anti-cancer properties, courtesy of the enzyme sulforaphane
  • Alfalfa – a significant dietary source of phytoestrogens. Also a good source of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, F, and K
  • Wheat grass – high in vitamins B, C, E and many minerals
  • Mung beans – good source of protein, fiber, vitamin C and A
  • Clover – a significant source of isoflavones
  • Lentil sprouts – contain 26 percent protein, and can be eaten without cooking
  • Sunflower – contains minerals, healthy fats, essential fatty acids, fiber, and phytosterols. It's also one of the highest in protein
  • Pea shoots – good source of vitamins A, C and folic acid and one of the highest in protein

Of the seeds, sunflower seeds are among the best in terms of nutritional value, and sprouting them will augment their nutrient content by as much as 300 to 1,200 percent. Similarly, sprouting peas will improve the bio-availability of zinc and magnesium. Sprouted sunflower seeds also contain plenty of iron and chlorophyll, the latter of which will help detoxify your blood and liver. The phytosterols in sprouted sunflower seeds can help enhance your immune system.

Mung Bean Sprout Hummus

4 cups of three-day old mung bean sprouts
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon of tahini
lemon juice
A pinch of paprika
Put in blender and process until smooth. Add alfalfa sprouts to garnish, dip with tortilla chips and enjoy.