Sprouts: Types, Nutrition, Health Benefits & Risks


Sprouts are one of the healthiest foods with chock-full of vitamins and minerals that benefit your overall health. When you soak seeds or spores in water, they start germinating and this process is called sprouting . Sprouts are easy to grow and easy to add to your meals.

Sprouts are the germinated seeds that mature into young plants. The sprouting process starts when the seeds are soaked in water for several hours during which they are exposed to the right combination of moisture and temperature and allowed to grow for two to seven days. The sprouts usually grow from 2 to 5 cm long.

The most common types of sprouts are as follows:

The sprouting process doubles up the nutrient levels, making sprouts an excellent source of protein, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, folate, vitamin C and vitamin K. Study shows that sprouting increases the protein content . Sprouts are rich in antioxidants and plant compounds  and they also possess high levels of essential amino acids.

The proteins in sprouts are easier to digest because during the sprouting process the amount of antinutrients are reduced, making it easier for the body to absorb all the nutrients they contain.

Sprouts contain a high amount of living enzymes, which assist in boosting the metabolic process and improve chemical reactions in the body. The enzymes aid in breaking down the food and enhance the absorption of nutrients by the digestive tract .

In addition, sprouts contain a high amount of insoluble fibre that helps to bulk up stool and reduces the chances of constipation .

Consuming sprouts increases good cholesterol and decreases bad cholesterol. Broccoli sprouts contain many bioactive compounds, specifically sulforaphane which increases the total antioxidant capacity of plasma and decreases lipid peroxidation, serum triglycerides, oxidative stress index, serum insulin, insulin resistance, and oxidized LDL cholesterol in type 2 diabetic patients .

Similarly, chickpea sprouts contribute to cardiovascular health due to the presence of phytoestrogens .

Sprouts are considered to be very good for weight loss because of their high fibre content. Fibre keeps you feeling full for longer and prevents hunger cravings by stopping the release of ghrelin, a hunger hormone. Peanut sprouts reduce abdominal fat in obese women .

Eating sprouts can keep your blood sugar under control. A study shows that sprouts have the ability to regulate the activity of amylase enzyme which the body uses to properly break down and digest sugars . Broccoli sprouts are rich in sulforaphane which improves the glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Raw broccoli sprouts are a rich source of potential cancer-fighting compounds. The main compounds found in broccoli and its sprouts are glucosinolates that are transformed into isothiocyanates when chopped or chewed. These isothiocyanates have anticancer and anti-inflammatory activities . Another study showed that broccoli sprouts can prevent prostate cancer .

Sprouts are packed with vitamin C, which acts as a powerful stimulant for the white blood cells (WBCs) to fight off diseases and infections, thus boosting your immune system.

Sprouted wheat and sprouted oats help regulate and maintain the pH balance of the body by reducing acid levels. Lactobacillus acidophilus found in these sprouts acts a good probiotic for the gut .

Sprouts are linked to food poisoning because they are consumed raw and they may contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E coli bacteria. These bacteria thrive in a warm and wet environment, which is most likely to occur during the sprouting process.

The symptoms of food poisoning will appear 12 to 72 hours after eating sprouts. The symptoms are diarrhoea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has linked 48 food-borne illnesses to sprouts .

Here are some tips to reduce the risk of food poisoning:

You can also try this and .

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