Sprouts, oh, glorious sprouts! These microgreens with a radish-like taste are healthy to consume and easy to grow. Personally, I use broccoli sprouts in everything from salads, to smoothies, to sushi. It’s quite a versatile food! It can be used as a garnish on fancy dinners or on a sandwich instead of lettuce. In fact, broccoli sprouts are so fantastic, even cats can safely enjoy them in small servings.
Health Benefits of Broccoli Sprouts
Although matured broccoli is healthy, broccoli sprouts are extremely nutrient dense and offer significantly more health benefits than big brother broccoli. An article by The World’s Healthiest Foods highlights the vast health benefits broccoli sprouts:
“A great deal of research has shown that cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli contain cancer-protective compounds. One compound in particular called sulforaphane has been shown to improve the liver’s ability to detoxify carcinogens and other toxic compounds. Now, researchers have discovered that 3-day-old sprouts of certain crucifers, including broccoli and cauliflower, contain 10-100 times higher levels of sulforaphane than do the corresponding mature plants. Just one ounce of broccoli sprouts contain an equivalent amount of sulforaphane to one-and-a-half pounds of mature broccoli!”
Additionally, sulforaphane has shown promise in treating autism. A study by Hopkins Medicine spells it out with this important statistic:
“Forty boys and young men, ages 13 to 27, with moderate to severe autism, were treated for 18 weeks with a daily dose of either a placebo or sulforaphane, a plant chemical derived from broccoli sprouts . . . Researchers say that many of those taking sulforaphane substantially improved in several aspects of their behavior during treatment.”
Broccoli sprout consumption also helps slow the development of certain types of cancers and can even help prevent stomach cancer. It’s no surprise that broccoli sprouts have been labeled as a ‘disease fighting super food.’
Broccoli Sprouts Lead to Cleaner Air and Lungs
Plants in general help purify the air we breathe. In addition to all of the health benefits, broccoli sprouts contain a chemical called glucoraphanin. This chemical promotes the growth of sulforaphane. For more information on glucoraphanin and how it helps your lungs by combatting benzene in polluted air, check out this previous post on The Hearty Soul.
Growing Your Own Sprout Gardens
The great thing about growing sprouts at home is that essentially anyone can do it. Little to no experience with gardening is needed, and sprouts can grow indoors all year round. They can also grow just about anywhere, although a place with a decent amount of sunlight is ideal.
Now is the time to grow you own sprout garden. It’s simple, yields fresh sprouts in only a few days, and is cheaper than buying your green goodness from the grocery store. The Hearty Soul article, How to Grow An Endless Supply of Alkalizing Sprouts All Year Round, gives clear step-by-step instructions for anyone wanting to try it:
Decide what your growing medium is: a jar, a sprouting box, soil, etc.
Place desired amount of seed/ grain in a bowl with three (3) times as much cool water.
Allow to soak overnight.
Rinse and drain, place seeds/grain in your sprouting tray. Rinse and drain 2-3x daily or as recommended on packaging.
Set your sprouter anywhere out of direct sunlight and at room temperature (70° is optimal) between rinses. Always be sure to drain very thoroughly. The most common cause of inferior sprouts is inadequate drainage.
Don’t forget to green your sprouts if needed. If you’ve been keeping them away from light, move them.
Your sprouts are done 8-12 hours after your final rinse. Let sprouts dry a bit before refrigerating them. If you minimize the surface moisture of the sprouts they store much better in refrigerator.
(For more sprouting instructions for various seeds and grains click here.)
Concerns About Sprouts: Truth or Myth?
I used to work at a health food store that only carried organic produce. Corporate policy only allowed us to carry one type of sprouts because they were the safest on the shelf. That’s right you guessed, we carried broccoli sprouts.
Last year, Listeria outbreaks were on the rise and many blamed sprouts. This created paranoia around eating the super food, especially when raw. Beyond the Listeria scare, many people worry about the potential of sprouts harboring bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. However, the fact is that broccoli sprouts aren’t commonly dangerous.
First of all, Listeria is more common in meat and dairy than in vegetables. Also, a scholarly study posted on the NCBI website points out that bacteria in sprouts isn’t all that common. In a sample of over 3000 uniquely sourced sprouts, only about 0.75% tested positive for E.coli or salmonella.
So if you weren’t convinced before, now you should be: broccoli sprouts are incredibly safe and healthy as well as being fresh and tasty. Grow your own today, and post your success stories with sprout gardens in the comment section. Happy harvesting!