chickpeas and moong dal soaked in water to slit open into tiny tail-like structures? Wasn't it fascinating as a kid? The process is called sprouting and sprouts can be a super healthy addition to your daily meals. While you have a variety of legumes to choose from, there is a technique to get it right. Learn all about sprouting the right way and the many benefits of the process.
What is sprouting?
Sprouting is basically a process where seeds and legumes are germinated and eventually eaten raw. When seeds are soaked in water for a certain period of time, they germinate, causing their outer layers to tear open and allowing a young shoot to blossom. Sprouted grains, legumes and beans are believed to be very nutritious and healthy. Grains are soaked in water so as to soften their outer membranes allowing them to sprout.
(Also read: 10 Best Sprout Recipes)
Why sprouting is healthy
Sprouting tends to enhance the nutritional value of the grains, legumes or beans. These contain certain anti-nutrients including phytic acid which locks up important minerals. It also inhibits our digestive enzymes that can cause indigestion and intestinal gas. Nutritionist Sheela Sehrawat from the Diet Clinic in New Delhi, explains, "Sprouting increases the nutritive value of the ingredients and provides better digestion. The young sprouts have 10 to 100 times glucoraphanin which is an enzyme that protects the body from cancer causing agents. Further, it provides antioxidants and increases the activity of chlorophyll which helps in detoxifying your body by boosting the oxygen levels in the body."
The many benefits of sprouting
Sprouting increases the level of minerals and vitamins including vitamin D in the ingredients. In the book, Diet & Nutrition - A Holistic Approach, author Rudolph Ballentine explains that most of the gas producing starches can be eliminated by sprouting. Sprouting also increases the protein content, and shortens the cooking time of legumes. During the process of sprouting, some of the stored starch in the legume is used up for forming the tiny leaves and rootlets and in manufacturing vitamin C. Here are some health benefits that will convince you to sprout more often.
1. Helps in digestion
Sprouts contain an unusually high content of living enzymes. These enzymes further help in boosting your metabolic processes and improve chemical reactions within the body, specifically when it comes to digestion. Enzymes help break down the food effectively and enhance the absorption of nutrients by the digestive tract. Sprouts also have a lot of dietary fiber which regulates digestion.
2. Boosts blood circulation
Sprouts help in boosting your blood circulation by maintaining your red blood cell count with significant amounts of iron and copper. This further helps in supplying oxygen to various organs and cells to optimize their performance.
3. Helps in weight loss
Sprouts are one the best foods to help lose weight. They are high in nutrients but have negligible calories which means that you can consume sprouts without worrying about the weighing scale. Furthermore, sprouts contain a high amount of fiber that makes you feel full for a longer period of time. It also inhibits the release of ghrelin, a hunger hormone that indicates our brain to eat more.
4. Builds your immune system
Sprouts have a high vitamin C content that makes it a powerful stimulant for the white blood cells in the body to fight off infections and diseases and thus, building your immunity system. It also has abundant vitamin A.
5. Improves eye sight
Due to the presence of vitamin A, sprouts also help in improving your vision and eye sight. They also have antioxidant agents to protect the cells of the eyes from free radicals.
6. Heart friendly
Sprouts have omega-3 fatty acids which help in boosting good cholesterol (HDL) levels and reduce the amount of harmful cholesterol in your blood vessels and arteries. Omega-3 fatty acids are also anti-inflammatory in nature, so they help in reducing the excessive stress on your cardiovascular system.
The right way to sprout
When it comes to sprouting, there are various ways to do so and also many ingredients that can be sprouted such as black beans, buckwheat, moong beans, lentils, soy beans, millet, barley, quinoa, and chickpeas. They all taste good provided you get the technique right. Here's help.
1. Rinse the grains, beans and legumes properly for about a minute and then place them in a huge bowl or a mason jar filled with water.
2. Make sure the water is double the amount of grains as these will absorb some of the water while sprouting.
3. Skim off and throw away any floating grains or debris to avoid any wastage.
4. Ensure that you cover the mouth of the container with a cheesecloth and secure it tightly with a support. Keep the container on your counter top at room temperature and let it sit for 3-12 hours depending on the type of grain. For example, kala chana and hari moong dal should be soaked overnight to sprout well.
5. Drain the water out through the cheesecloth. Once done, run fresh water through the lid and shake to rinse these sprouts thoroughly. Drain and repeat this process twice a day until the ingredients sprout (it can take about 4-5 days to sprout).
According to Nutritionist Sheela, the risk of cross contamination in sprouts is very high as they contain living enzymes and some bacteria are dangerous including e-coli. In order to avoid this, keep your hands, jars and kitchen clean. It's healthier to buy organic seeds, nuts, grains and legumes for sprouting. It is always good to consume them within 3 to 4 days and then repeat the process for a new and fresh batch of sprouts.
Do you remember those days when you would wait patiently for