Sprouting seeds contain many nutrients and phytochemicals, which could help improve your immune function and reduce your risk of cancer. Commonly sprouted seeds for human consumption include alfalfa, sunflower, mustard, onion, broccoli, radish and clover. These sprouts can be tasty additions to your salads or sandwiches and provide a nutritious garnish for entrees.
To sprout seeds, soak them briefly in water and then rinse them with water daily for three days to one week until the seeds have fully sprouted. You can do this in your kitchen, and it's one of the best ways to eat local, fresh greens year-round no matter where you live. Because the process of sprouting occurs in a moist environment, bacteria potentially can grow. The American Dietetic Association advises that if you wish to eat sprouts raw, buy them fresh or sprout your own, refrigerate them and rinse them under cold, running water before eating them to prevent food-borne illness.
A 1-cup serving of sprouted seeds contains roughly 10 to 20 calories, 1 to 1.5 grams of protein, up to 3 grams of fiber and a variety of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fatty acids and amino acids. The sprouts contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which decrease disease and inflammation in the body. Vitamin C and folate make sprouts a great boost to immune health. You'll also find vitamin K, B vitamins, iron, zinc and calcium in sprouted seeds.
Sprouted seeds contain a variety of cancer-fighting compounds. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, sprouted alfalfa seeds contain phytochemicals called coumstans, which prevent cancer cell development. High concentrations of antioxidants are also found in sprouted seeds, which neutralize free radicals in the body, improving your overall health and preventing disease.
Sprouts contain concentrated nutrients that can improve your digestive health and support immune function. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have spent more than 20 years studying broccoli sprouts and have found that consuming a few tablespoons of sprouts a day may be equivalent to eating 1 to 2 pounds of mature broccoli a week. Regular consumption of sprouts reduced rates of infection and inflammation according to their research. The scientists also noted that the body's protective enzyme levels became elevated, which may help prevent stomach cancer, gastritis and ulcers. They also found sulforaphane, another anticancer compound, in concentrated amounts in broccoli sprouts.
- The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: How Other Phytochemicals Help Protect Against Cancer
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Sprout Safety
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Alfalfa Seeds, Sprouted, Raw
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Cancer Protection Compound Abundant in Broccoli Sprouts
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Better Eat Your Broccoli Sprouts
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