Sprouts are seeds that have started germinating (sprouting). Sprouts are a very popular superfood, because they are highly nutritional. This is because the so-called antinutrients are removed when the seeds start sprouting. Antinutrients prevent germination from happening, keeping the seeds ‘dormant’ until the conditions are right. It is thought that the antinutrients protect the plant from going instinct by making the seeds taste bitter and difficult to digest. This way birds will not eat them and even if they do eat them they will not be digested properly so that the seeds will be discarded and still be able to reproduce. Soaking, cooking, fermenting and sprouting will reduce the antinutrient levels of the seeds. When the antinutrients are reduced the seeds are not only digested more easily, but they also increase nutrient content and bioavailabity, which means they are more readily absorbed by the body. They contain some very important enzymes that are needed for food digestion.
People have been sprouting from times even before the bible. Manuscripts from 3000 BC show that the Chinese ate sprouts on a regular basis. Chinese medicine also used them to cure several ailments, such as inflammation, constipation, rheumatism and many others. During the 18th century captain James Cook used sprouts to prevent scurvy (a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C) among the crew during the long boat voyages. Today, more people than ever have discovered the advantages and great taste of home made sprouts.
As was mentioned before the seeds will not sprout until the conditions are right. They require water, oxygen and warmth. In order to grow sprouts at home we can easily create the right conditions using a sprouter. There are automatic sprouters available that use a technology where mist and oxygen are applied simultaneously making the sprouting process very easy. Of course it is very important to prevent harmful bacteria from growing; an automatic sprouter requires very little effort to guarantee hygiene and convenience. They are very practical for people who have little time, but care about their health and nutritional intake.
When we talk about seeds we usually think of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds, but also pulses such as split peas, chickpeas, black eyed peas are seeds, as well as quinoa, oats and nuts. Sprouts can be eaten raw as well as cooked, but cooking them can decrease the nutrients yet also make the nutrients more bioavailable (readily available for your body). Some seeds, such as red beans and kidney beans, are not to be eaten raw as they can be toxic; they should only be consumed cooked.
Sprouts can be added to any dish to add flavor and crunchiness and they can also be eaten by themselves as a snack. They can be added to salads, tortillas, flat breads, wraps, tacos, soups etc. They are also great when they are sauteed by themselves or with mixed vegetables.
Insert date: 2017-08-13 Last update: 2017-08-14
Authors > Contributor writers > Renate Hoornstra