Sprout?? Why should I do that?There are many reasons to sprout, but first and foremost, sprouts are a truly living food. Unlike fruits and vegetables, which stop growing when plucked from their mother plant, sprouts continue growing up until the moment they are digested, and impart a subtle, yet substantial life force to the body.
Germination, or the process of sprouting, releases the nutrients in a seed and makes them more available for absorption. It can also increase a seed’s nutritional content by as much as 400%. Sprouting activates the seed’s plant hormones (phytosterols) and increases its metabolic activity: the seed’s starches are broken down into simpler sugars, proteins are predigested into easy-to-assimilate, free amino acids, and fats are converted into easily digestible and soluble fatty acids.
Sprouts are considered excellent anti-aging foods due to their rich supply of enzymes. They also contain good amounts of vitamin C, B-complex vitamins (including B17, also known a laetrile, which has been used in cancer treatment, and vitamin E, as well as chlorophyll.
Sprouts are especially beneficial in terms of their ability to provide enzymes to the body, which the body would otherwise have to employ to digest the unsprouted bean or seed. Seeds, including beans and grains, are an important element of the human diet, but they contain enzyme inhibitors (factors that keep enzymes dormant until the right growing conditions) appear. Phytic acid, an enzyme inhibitor, inhibits the absorption of calcium, iron, and zinc. Ingesting enzyme inhibitors can lead to health problems, such as digestive difficulties, enlarged pancreas, or general poor health. Cooking destroys enzyme inhibitors, but it also destroys the enzymes. Sprouting gets rid of the enzyme inhibitors and preserves the healthful enzymes.
The most nutritious, easiest-to-grow sprouts are buckwheat, clover, fenugreek, lentils, mung beans, mustard, radish, and sunflower.
Sprouting is also very economical. A teaspoon (that’s not much!) of alfalfa seeds yields about 2 pounds of sprouts, and all for just a few pennies.
Be sure to see next week’s post, where I’ll share the how-to of sprouting.