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Sprouting for Health

by Ran Janda(more info)

listed in food, originally published in issue 267 - January 2021

 

What is Sprouting?

Sprouting is the process of germinating seeds into sprouts which can then be eaten raw and which are nutrient dense. They are one of the easiest things to grow indoors, can be ready in a matter of days and are cheap to purchase.

 

Sprouts

 

What can you Sprout?

Seeds for sprouting include vegetables, beans, grains, pulses and nuts. However, we suggest that you purchase pre-packed seeds from a reputable seller, so you can be assured that they have undergone the necessary tests (more in the next section).

There are some exceptions, such as chia and flax seeds. These are known as mucilaginous seeds; they form a gel sack around itself when exposed to water so are trickier to sprout properly. Quinoa contains a high concentration of saponins, which can cause an allergic reaction in some people and make them feel ill. Bigger bean sprouts such as soy and red kidney beans contain toxins after sprouting, so avoid them or boil them for at least 10 minutes before consuming. Some other raw bean sprouts contain hemagglutinins which inhibit protein and fat absorption. Again, cooking destroys hemagglutinins so it’s best to cook the bigger germinated beans.

Always do your research and refer to a reliable sprouting chart, to ensure seeds and beans are safe to sprout and how long germination takes.

Are Sprouts Safe?

There has been some bad press around sprouts causing illnesses such as salmonella and E.coli, but these are primarily found in store-bought sprouts. Sprouts require a warm and humid environment to grow, but this is also a prime environment for bacteria to spread too. It’s much harder to control the environment in large scale operations to ensure its completely clear of all pathogens.

It is much easier to control the environment when sprouting at home, so there’s a much less chance of getting a food-borne illness. You control the cleanliness of your equipment, the air circulation and the rinsing of the seeds. In addition, you are in control of where you purchase the seeds so can check that they have been tested and are free of salmonella and E.coli.

It is common for sprouts to have fine root hairs which can be mistaken for mould. If you rinse the sprouts and the hairs disappear, then there is a good chance they are root hairs and not mould, they will reappear when the sprouts are dry. Have a sniff too to double check; mould smells whereas root hairs don’t.

What are the Benefits of Consuming Sprouts?

You only have to do an internet search to get a plethora of benefits from consuming sprouts, the list is long! A few benefits include; may help with digestion, may help with blood circulation, may help boost the immune system, may help with weight loss, may help regulate the pH of the body, may improve heart health, may help control blood sugar levels, and so on.

Sprouts are a rich source of nutrients. Their vitamin and mineral content varies based on the type of seed you are sprouting. The quality and quantity of the nutrients and beneficial plant compounds are said to improve with sprouting enhancing the nutritive value, generally speaking making them richer in protein, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, antioxidants, fibre and vitamins B, C and K. Sprouts also tend to contain higher levels of essential amino acids

Also, if you’ve ever had troubles digesting a grain or legume, try sprouting it first. The proteins in sprouts may be easier to digest and not bother your body at all! 

What Equipment do you Need?

Not much at all. All you need to get started is a large clear jar, some cheesecloth and a rubber band. You can purchase specific sprouting jars, but the clear jar and cheesecloth will do exactly the same job.

What’s the Process for Sprouting Seeds?

Different seeds have different soaking and germination times depending on the type and size of the seed, so do check before you begin.

The environment needed for sprouting and growth is humidity and air circulation. Some seeds require a dark environment, some a light one and others require darkness first and then light in the final stage, so get familiar with the process for your particular seed before you begin.

Here’s the process we use when sprouting our favourite broccoli seeds:

Step 1: Soak your Seeds

We know from experience that 3 tbsp of broccoli seeds yields about 3 cups of broccoli sprouts, bear in mind that this will vary for different seeds based on the size of the seed. It is recommended to use at least 3 parts water to one-part seed. Place the seeds in your clean jar and cover with room temperature water, stir to ensure all seeds are wet, leave the jar open and set aside for 8-12 hours to soak.

Step 2: Drain and Rinse

Once the soaking time is up, drain the sprouts. Place a fine mesh sieve over the top of the jar, invert it over the sink and let it drain. Add more fresh water and swirl the water around and drain the water again. Shake out as much water as you can. Pop some cheesecloth over the top of the jar and secure with the rubber band. Now prop the jar into a bowl so that it is at about a 45-degree angle, this allows the sprouts to continue draining into the bowl. Leave to the side on your kitchen counter.

Step 3: Rinse, Drain and Repeat

Rinse and drain as above every 12 hours for 2-5 days depending on the size of sprout you desire. Rinse with fresh water, drain and prop back into the bowl. For some seeds, you’ll start to see little sprouts within a day or so.

Step 4: Transfer, Store and Eat!

Your sprouts are now ready! Give them one final rinse and drain and put them all on clean absorbent kitchen paper towel. Spread them out and let them dry for about an hour.

Line a storage container with some fresh kitchen paper towel and put the sprouts in, this helps absorb any extra moisture, close the container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Get creative in finding new ways of consuming the sprouts while you start making your next batch. The possibilities are endless!

How do you Incorporate Sprouts into your Diet?

Fresh sprouts are so versatile, they can be eaten raw in salads and sandwiches, they can also be juiced or added to smoothies or soups, used as a garnish for any meal or simply eaten on their own!

Our Favourite Seeds to Sprout Right Now

As mentioned, broccoli seeds are our favourite right now, this is due to their high Sulforaphane content. Sulforaphane is a natural plant compound found in many cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale.

Paul Talalay, a researcher at John Hopkins, first realized Sulforaphane’s potential back in 1992. Since then, there have been over 1700 studies indicating the health benefits of Sulforaphane across a wide variety of diseases and concerns. It has been linked to health benefits, such as improved heart health and digestion. Sulforaphane may help with conditions such as cancer, diabetes and autism.

It also has a detoxifying action and several studies have shown its ability to remove toxins including heavy metals from the body.

Best of all, broccoli seeds are easy to sprout, just taking a few days, are low maintenance with minimal equipment and cost involved. A super easy way to add valuable nutrients into your diet!

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About Ran Janda

Ran Janda MSc DCHAc CMIR is an acupuncturist, homeopath and founder of Holistic Room – a platform that helps those looking for good health, healing & wellbeing to find the most suitable natural health practitioner for their specific needs. She has created a free guide to the second brain (gut) and how it impacts health found at https://service.holisticroom.com/guide2 Ran may be contacted at info@holisticroom.com   Holistic Room

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