Seeds sprouts are very easy to produce, economical and full of essential nutrients. If you are thinking back to distant memories of mustard and cress, then sprouts have moved on ‘sprout years’ since those days! Sprouts are one of the most alkalising, nutritious and convenient foods available, particularly as they can be grown easily in four to six days and require no effort and very little cost. Seeds sprouts are incredibly versatile in meals and can be added to salads, soups, stir-frys, and juices or just eaten as they are. They also provide an excellent source of protein and are a great addition to a raw food diet or a detox.
A tasty weapon to fight disease
The main benefits of sprouting seeds are the amazing amount of nutrients and enzymes that are released once a seed germinates from dormancy. What may look like a humble seed becomes a nutrient explosion once you provide it with light and water. Unlike most fresh foods that actually deteriorate once picked and lose nutrients prior to consumption, seed sprouts continue to become a powerhouse of nutrition as they grow. Seed sprouts are packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes, phytochemicals, antioxidants, trace minerals, bioflavonoids and isoflavones, which work against toxins and invigorate the body’s immune system. The abundant enzymes in sprouts also make them easily digestible as their cell walls easily release nutrients.
According to Professor Rowland of Ulster University eating just over 100 grams of tasty sprouted vegetables every day for a fortnight showed clear protective effects against DNA damage in human blood cells. “And just a portion – 113 grams – per day of a mix of broccoli, radish, alfalfa and clover sprouts was enough in our tests to show the protective effect.” DNA damage is associated with cancer risk. Sources of DNA damage include diet-related carcinogens, and bodily processes like oxidative stress – and the raw sprouts protect against this kind of damage. So this scientific research reinforces why you should eat your greens.
Types of sprouters
There are lots of different sprouters on the market that vary dramatically in price, but a simple ‘jar style’ sprouter as seen here will do a good job and costs less than £10.
Instructions for sprouting
- Place your chosen seeds in a fine sieve and wash thoroughly
- Soak the seeds overnight or for approximately 12 hours and then rinse thoroughly
- Place the seeds in the germinator and ensure that they are evenly spread out and not too cramped together, otherwise they may go mouldy
- Place the germinator in a well lit spot, but away from direct sunlight and keep at room temperature
- Water twice daily (ideally with filtered or bottled water)
- Watch your seeds begin to sprout. After 4-6 days your sprouts are ready to harvest – rinse thoroughly and keep refrigerated (consume within 5 days)
Many different types of sprout are available including the more popular alfalfa, broccoli, radish, mung bean and a range of mixes. Added herb seeds such as basil, coriander and oregano can bring lots of flavour to your food.
Jo Bareham is a BANT registered Nutritionist based in Haywards Heath www.healthyyou.co.uk