I'm up on my soapbox, and ready to expound about sprouting. Winter is upon us, and the quality of produce in the grocers has bottomed out, while the cost increases exponentially.
Tired of brown broccoli and limp lettuce at peak prices? What to do? SPROUT!!
Sprouting is a simple, easy way to increase the nutrition and digestibility of your food, for 5 - 10 minutes, and pennies a day.
Sprouting has been around for thousands of years, but we've lost the tradition in our fast food culture.
Save yourself from scurvy this winter! Enjoy fresh organic vegetables daily! Magically cure all your ills!
Did you know? "Dried seeds, grains and legumes do not contain discernible traces of ascorbic acid, yet when sprouted, they reveal quite significant quantities which are important in the body's ability to metabolise proteins. The infinite increase in ascorbic acid derives from their absorption of atmospheric elements during growth."
Here's a concise and complete article on the nutritional benefits of sprouting. Minerals, vitamins and enzymes are developed and increased, making sprouted foods more nutritious and easier to digest. Sprouting and Nutrition. Interestingly, this article also says that nutrients increase more when sprouts are grown in the light. And it gives reasons why alfalfa and sorghum are NOT good candidates for sprouting, even though they are recommended elsewhere.
Kidney beans are also not good for sprouting, according to this ehow article: "Kidney beans should not be sprouted because they contain the high levels of the toxin phytohemagglutinin. When kidney beans are eaten raw or sprouted they can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other adverse health reactions. For this reason, you should always cook kidney beans before eating them."
This article also talks about the increase of nutrients in sprouted foods, using sprouted mung beans as an example. Carbohydrates are broken down, and protein availability increases about 30%, along with many other nutrients.
The same article gives examples of specific health conditions improved by certain seeds. E.G. sprouted brown rice reduced cardiovascular risk, decreased allergic reactions, and even had benefits for nursing mothers.
You can sprout at home very simply, with a jar, a few seeds, the corner of an old dishtowel, and an elastic band. It works perfectly well, but if the homely low-tech method doesn't appeal to you, here's a site which supplies everything you need for sprouting, including organic seeds: The Sprout House
For an excellent sprouting primer, go to Sprouting 101 from sprouting veteran Dave at Vegan Cycling. He makes it simple and easy.
It seems to me from reading about it, that what sprouting does is increase the bio-availability of nutrients which may be latent or bound up in the seeds, and doesn't add nutrients which don't exist in the seeds - except for minerals which may be found in high concentrations in the soaking water.
So a large increase in protein, for example, will happen when a food has a lot of protein. Carbs apear to be converted partially into other nutrients (to feed the plant), as they would be if the seed were planted in soil - that's why carbs are reduced in sprouting.
Some foods such as kidney beans, alfalfa and sorghum, apparently don't fare well in sprouting, because sprouting releases toxins.
One important fact isn't mentioned in the above sites. I've read in a few places, and heard from raw foodists, that sprouts are at their best for nutrition and tastiness when they have just begun to sprout. That means that after soaking, rinsing, and putting your seeds in a warm spot to sprout, you only have to wait another twelve hours to start munching those vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
The effects of sprouting appear to vary from one food to another, so results aren't predictable across the board, but overall sprouting is highly beneficial in improving nutrition and digestibility, with a few exceptions.
Besides adding sprouts to sandwiches, salads and smoothies, you can cook with sprouts, adding them to veggie and grain dishes and soups, or grinding and adding to breads and spreads - but minimal cooking is of course advised.