Bean sprouts are the short, pale green or white shoots that sprout from a wide variety of beans which interestingly contain a higher content of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients than the beans from which they sprout!
It is believed that early Chinese seafarers grew sprouts on board in order to avoid disease in much the same way that later European explorers traveled with citrus fruit to avoid scurvy.
Sprouts can be derived from seeds and nuts as well as beans. All sprouts are easy to grow at home. Interestingly, while alfalfa are the most popular sprouts, they are lower in nutritional value than other sprouts!
Bean sprouts are considered a super food, particularly mung and soy bean! I try to add a small handful to all my juice and smoothie recipes for an added nutritional punch!
In the West, bean sprouts are commonly consumed fresh in salads, sandwiches, and more recently, juices and smoothies. We associate sprouts in particular with Eastern foods where they have been a part of the cuisine and used for medicinal purposes for millennia. But mung bean sprouts, especially, have long been a part of Indian, South American and African diets.
Growing them at home is a particularly important option since one of the main sources of food borne illness is commercial sprouts.
Exciting New Research
Studies concluded that sprouts have an anti-inflammatory effect and may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Other research is looking at preliminary results that sprouts decrease blood pressure, fight diabetes, lower the risk of heart disease and prevent allergies.
Bean sprouts are extremely low in calories, rich in protein and nearly fat free with no cholesterol or sodium. They are filled with nutritional enzymes, vitamins and minerals such as calcium, and provide an excellent source for energy-boosting carbohydrates.
They are also a valuable source of the antioxidant vitamin C, and are high in folate, depending upon which sprouts you eat. Folate is necessary for the production of DNA, red blood cells and amino acids. Thus, folate is essential to the prevention of anemia and birth defects. It’s especially critical to women who are pregnant. One cup of sprouts delivers 16% to 30% of the RDA of folate, depending on what sprouts you eat!
It’s important to note that not all sprouts are created equal! Soy and mung bean sprouts are the most nutritious.
Try this delicious mung bean sprout juice and smoothie recipe!
I just love this juice most of all for its sweet fresh healthy flavor without any added sugar!
Rao S, Chinkwo KA, Santhakumar AB, Blanchard CL. Inhibitory Effects of Pulse Bioactive Compounds on Cancer Development Pathways. Diseases. 2018;6(3). doi:10.3390/diseases6030072
US Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Bean sprouts, raw. Updated April 1, 2019.