Diabetes: One protein-packed food source that beats anaemia, yet low on Glycemic Index; guilt-free diet - Times Now
Sprouts are a powerhouse of health | Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Sprouts have long since been the symbol of nutrition, and fertility, but now it is seen as anti-diabetic.
- Most civilisations have valued this food source/item and coined traditional recipes around it.
- In India, sprouts form the basis of several recipes -- cooked (dishes) or raw (salads).
Sprouts need no introduction and their wellness-promoting status has global acceptance. Diann Sacco writes in Beet.com that Broccoli sprouts, in particular, are garnering the attention of researchers, due to the plant's high levels of sulforaphane, a powerful phytochemical found in cruciferous vegetables.
The term 'sprouts' refers to not just one food, but to a whole category. One can germinate seeds of beans, legumes, nuts, and grains as well as vegetables for consumption. Many people also soak seeds of alfalfa, broccoli, clover, wheatgrass, mung whole beans, lentils, or chickpeas.
Sprouting involves soaking them for 8-12 hours and then tieing them up with gentle force into a clean cotton cloth (keeping it moist by sprinkling clean water) until they begin to develop a tail-like protrusion. At this stage, they become easier to digest and easier for the body to absorb their nutrients. Some people like to change the water that the grains are soaked in -- rinsing the soaked grains every 8-12 hours.
But be careful about food production safety procedures. You need warmth and humidity for something to sprout, and those are prime conditions for potentially problematic bacteria to flourish. Therefore, you need to be careful about maintaining clean conditions and avoiding opportunities for unintended contamination. Never use sprouts that have a sticky feel to them or a foul smell. If you have not made them yourselves or doubt the handling of sprouts bought off the supermarket shelves/sprouts farm, cook them. Some nutrients will be lost, but at least you can be assured that there will be no fear of food poisoning. In the West where most people buy sprouts instead of preparing them at home, contaminated sprouts have been associated with a number of foodborne outbreaks.
What makes sprouts such a coveted source of nutrition?
- Heart-health promoting properties: As per a report in Harvard Health, those who regularly consume broccoli and brussels sprouts can be assured of the special heart benefits that such cruciferous vegetables (also including cauliflower and cabbage) bring. A study published online July 17 by The British Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate more cruciferous veggies had less calcium buildup in their aortas (the body's largest blood vessel) than people who ate less of these veggies. Fatty deposits in arteries attract calcium and the buildup is known as calcification. Research shows that people with calcified aortas are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
- Anti-ageing and longevity: Seeds and legumes are sprouted because the process raises the levels of antioxidants and makes them an important agent of fighting against free radicals and ageing. Sprouting brings out the nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A and beta-carotene that are dormant in the seeds. Sprouting makes the calcium, iron and zinc available to the body, enhancing skin and immune health, markers of longevity.
- Weight loss and healthy weight management: Sprouted vegetables and legumes are low – or even extremely low – in calories -- a very good facet when you want to maintain a healthy weight, or lose extra pounds. Beet.com reports that one cup of lentil sprouts has 82 calories and one cup of alfalfa sprouts has just under 8 calories. It also quotes Brigitte Zeitlin, Registered Dietitian and founder of BZ Nutrition, based in New York City who highlights that sprouts offer a great deal of nutrition as against their calorie content. Zeitlin advises clients looking to lose weight to focus on what nutrients a food adds to their diet rather than counting calories. “When I work with my clients, I don’t talk to my clients in terms of calories because I think it’s really important to talk about food as food,” she told Beet.com. “Sprouts are high in a variety of vitamins and minerals,” Zeitlin said. Most sprouts tend to be rich in vitamin C (good for immunity and for collagen production), vitamin K(good for the immune system), B vitamins (stress-management and magnesium); and sprouted grains offer more protein than their non-sprouted counterparts, Zeitlin adds.
- Anti-diabetic properties: Several studies suggest that sprouts help lower blood sugar and show promise for those with type 2 diabetes. One study followed a small group of people with type 2 diabetes. Half ate 60 grams of lentil sprouts per day along with their normal diet, while the other group simply consumed their normal diet. When the study concluded after 2 months, those eating the sprouts had experienced a 10 per cent reduction in levels of haemoglobin A1c, a marker of blood sugar control. On the other hand, these levels increased by 12 per cent in the control group.
- Aid digestion with high-fibre content: Another way sprouts help you maintain a healthy weight is that they are extremely high in fibre. “Sprouts offer up a really good source of fibre,” Zeitlin tells Beet.com. “Fibre helps to keep you full and satiated throughout the day. So you have more energy and you’re more alert while you’re at work or in school.” Fibre also helps resolve stomach disorders like constipation. A study in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition found that grains that were sprouted for five days had up to 133 per cent more fibre as compared with un-sprouted grains. Another study in the International Food Research Journal found that sprouting significantly increased both soluble and insoluble fibre content of the food you eat. Soluble fibre is broken down by the body and insoluble fibre adds bulk or roughage to food, further slowing down digestion and keeping you feeling full for longer.
- Helps intestine by boosting gut microbiome: For healthy gut microbiota, add sprouts to your diet. A study found that Broccoli sprouts taken for 7 days showed promising results as a treatment for the bacterial infection that causes peptic ulcers, Helicobacter pylori infection. Those with gluten sensitivity also can skip wheat and have more frequent meals of sprouts.
- Fight inflammation: A big cause of chronic illnesses is inflammation -- which is actually the body's defence mechanism against injuries -- gone overboard. Eating sprouts have been shown to fight inflammation and help provide protection against cardiovascular disease. Though broccoli sprouts are the favourite of many people who rope in this food item to fight inflammation and muscle soreness. Buckwheat sprouts also have strong anti-inflammatory properties, studies have shown.
- Anti-cancer properties: Research cited by US National Foundation for Cancer Research shows that a compound in Brussels sprouts may help restrict tumour growth by blocking aggressive enzymes known to advance cancer growth. The enzymes weaken the genes that suppress tumours and keep them from spreading. This compound found in Brussels sprouts allows tumour suppressors to continue doing their job.
- Longevity boosters: Seed and legumes reflect a rise in their antioxidant levels when sprouted, making them an important aid against free radicals and ageing. There is also an increase in the contents of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A and beta-carotene and improved availability of calcium, iron and zinc. Sprouts are the perfect support for skin and immune health.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.
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