Sprouted Foods Health Benefits
Water + warmth + seeds, nuts, beans, or grains + time = one of the hottest health trends going—sprouted foods. These delicious, delicate little baby plants are packed with goodness. So let’s “unpack” them to see why they’re so good.
A food research firm estimates that 2018 will bring in $250 million in sales of sprouted grain sales. That’s up from $30 million in 2016—way up, like 800 percent.
The word is out. It’s sprout.
About the sprout
Thank you, dear earth, for the everyday miracle of birth and rebirth. When grains, seeds, legumes, or nuts find themselves in the right conditions for growth—the right light, warmth, and moisture—they have the ideal conditions to break out of their shells.
Of course, you can eat the sprouts fresh and raw. But you’ll also find products made with dried or mashed up sprouts.
So hello, little sprout, and welcome. What do you have for us?
Well, like everything else, a sprout needs fuel to grow. Nature takes care of that by packing a stock of carbs in every shell and seed case. The sprout chows them down, and that changes its nutritional content.
With fewer carbs in their system, there’s room for more protein and fiber in each sprout. So, when we eat them that means a lower glycemic index than when we eat mature, non-sprouted foods.
In a Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism study, breads made with sprouted grain caused a lower blood sugar response, and more of a satiety hormone, than white and whole-grain breads with the same carb content. So there’s less risk of a blood sugar spike—and you feel fuller, sooner, and are less likely to overeat.
Sprouting also ups vitamin and mineral content compared to non-sprouted versions of the same food. Sprouting rye, for example, nearly quadruples the amount of the essential nutrient folate.
Research supports a green thumbs-up
When a seed sprouts, it makes its giant leap, from dormant to living, accompanied by a surge in enzymes. A baby plant needs plentiful nutrients to grow, and these enzymes help make the nutrients more available. The theory is that when we eat sprouted foods, rich in activated enzymes, their nutrients are more bio-available to us as well, and easier to digest.
Research supports the idea that sprouts pack an extra nutritional punch. Studies have shown that sprouting boosts the antioxidant levels of brown rice, amaranth, and millet, for example. And a study found that the fiber content of various types of brown rice increased by as much as 13 percent after sprouting.
Broccoli sprouts are another sprout success story. They have more natural chemicals called glucosinolates, offering even more cancer protection than regular broccoli. Glucosinolates have also shown promise against bladder cancer in lab tests.
DIY? Think twice
There are plenty of web sites, books, and videos on doing your own sprouting safely at home.
The responsible ones all warn of the potential danger—the necessary conditions for sprouting are also ideal for growing bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria. If you’re not scrupulous in following safe sprouting practice, there is, indeed, a risk of serious illness and even death.
But for every warning that home sprouting is risky, there are thousands of healthy, happy, longtime home sprouters. And the minimal equipment you need is readily available and affordable.
If you do experiment with sprouting at home, experts urge utmost caution, i.e., cooking the final product thoroughly to kill off any dangerous pathogens. You’ll find a million recipes online for delicious treats like sprouted lentil soup and sprouted chickpea burgers.
Buying already sprouted foods? Stick with brands and markets that you know have safe sprouting techniques.
On the way to the shelves
That big projected surge in sales will deliver plenty of options to your local food store. Almost any seed and some nuts can be sprouted.
So you can bet marketers are gearing up to churn out products like vegan protein powders, sprouted breads and snacks, even cookies and crackers made from sprouted grain, seed, legume flour, and more.
There are dried foods like sprouted almonds, and breads made with sprouted grains, seeds, and beans. Sprouted grains are mashed and rolled into wraps.
You can even find sprouted food powders to add to smoothies, oatmeal, anywhere you think it will work.
Just be sure stick to products that contain only natural ingredients.
Sprout clout—enjoy it
I hope this gives you some new ways to enjoy healthy eating—which is life-enhancing eating.
Enjoy, and take good care.
- Worth, Tammy. “Should You Sprout Your Food?” WebMD. Published NA. Last accessed March 10, 2017.
- Fetters, Aleisha. “The Health Benefits of Sprouted Foods (Plus DIY Recipe)” Daily Burn. Published August 7, 2015. Last accessed March 10, 2017.
- Brissette, Christy. “Plant proteins, healthy fats and more 2017 food trends” Washington Post. Published December 15, 2016. Last accessed March 10, 2017.
- Sass, Cynthia. “Is Sprouted Food Actually Healthier?” Health. Published November 9, 2016. Last accessed March 10, 2017.
- Goldwyn, Meathead. “Why Raw Sprouts May Be The Riskiest Food In The World” Amazing Ribs. Published NA. Last accessed March 10, 2017.
- “Guide To Soaking And Sprouting.” Nutrition Stripped. Published March 25, 2014. Last accessed March 10, 2017.
Disclaimer: Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: April 7, 2017