Sprout HistoryMedicinally and nutritionally, sprouts have a long history. It has been written that the Ancient Chinese physicians recognized and prescribed sprouts for curing many disorders over 5,000 years ago.
In the 1700's, sailors were riddled by scurvy (lack of Vitamin C) and suffered heavy casualties during their two to three year voyages until Captain James Cook had his sailors eat limes, lemons and varieties of sprouts; all abundant holders of Vitamin C. These were, predominantly, were credited for preventing the mariners' casualties.
It is really only in the past thirty years or so that "westerners" have become interested in sprouts and sprouting. During World War II, Dr.. Clive M. McKay, Professor of Nutrition at Cornell University. Dr. McKay led off with this dramatic announcement: "Wanted! A vegetable that will grow in any climate, will rival meat in nutritive value, will mature in 3 to 5 days, may be planted any day of the year, will require neither soil nor sunshine, will rival tomatoes in Vitamin C, will be free of waste in preparation and can be cooked with little fuel and as quickly as a ... chop." Dr. McKay was talking about soybean sprouts. He and a team of nutritionists had spent years researching the amazing properties of sprouted soybeans. They found that sprouts retain the B-complex vitamins present in the original seed, and show a big jump in Vitamin A and an almost unbelievable amount of Vitamin C over that present in unsprouted seeds. While some nutritionists point out that this high vitamin content is gained at the expense of some protein loss (conversely, the protein actually becomes more bio-available), the figures are impressive: an average 300 percent increase in Vitamin A and a 500 to 600 percent increase in Vitamin C. In addition, in the sprouting process starches are converted to simple sugars, thus making sprouts easily digested.
*Always choose organic seeds for sprouting to avoid genetically modified seeds as well as any chemical residues.
Health Benefits Galore
I often recommend using sprouts in the daily diet of my clients as an easy power-packed addition to any meal – particularly for people who have a hard time getting in their daily recommended intake of vegetables. Sprouts are one of the few fast foods that are healthy and they’re delightfully easy to incorporate into the diet. If, for instance, you often have eggs and toast for breakfast– accompany with a handful of sprouts to enhance your vegetable intake for the day. Or use a variety of them instead of salad greens in the colder season for a meal that’s more nutrient-rich and less work for your digestive system.
Alfalfa sprouts, soybeans, clover and oilseeds (such as flaxseed) are the most significant dietary sources of the phytoestrogens such as isoflavones, coumestans, and lignans, respectively. Studies in humans, animals and cell culture systems suggest that these dietary phytoestrogens play an important role in prevention of menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease. _________________________________________________
Sprouts are likely the most vitally alive and nourishing foods we can eat. We can sprout all year round and benefit from their low-calorie, high-nutrient density which supports an improved metabolism – great for those trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight. They also provide the nutrients of leafy greens when they are not in-season. And the amount of nourishment per dollar surpasses most any other food – so they’re also very economical for those of us who are watching our budgets a little more closely these days.
A great website for getting started at home is: http://www.sproutpeople.com/index.html but all you really need to start is a few seeds and a jar with a lid with some holes punched in it and some filtered water. Different seeds require different treatment and time to sprout (see website for details)
Enjoy and be better-nourished!