Updated: Jun 18
Sprouting seeds and grains causes a natural germination process to take place which not only increases the nutrient content, it also makes them easier to digest by reducing anti nutrients and proving valuable digestive enzymes, making for efficient digestion. Sprouts also contain beneficial bacterial flora, which when germinated release their probiotics, such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Sprouting grains allows you to eat them raw too and can help to reduce the gluten content of gluten-containing grains. So a real win when it comes to digestive and immune health.
Sprouts are powerhouses as they will contain the nutrients needed to grow, far more than an adult plant. They contain antioxidants which protect the body from damage, including vitamin C. Plus lots of phyto-chemcials which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties but that also protect our cells and enhance correct cellular replication such as phenolics, terpene and flavonoids; while there are no RDAs right now, I am sure in the future we will have some ranges, as these plant chemicals really are healthful!
Eating sprouts will benefit all conditions that are created by oxidation and inflammation, such as heart disease, cholesterol, cancers - it makes sense to eat green. Sulforphane, an isothiocyanate antioxidant, is currently being researched for supporting cancer and cellular degeneration, particularly found in broccoli sprouts and cruciferous vegetables. Buckwheat contains quercetin and rutin, which is healthful to vessels and apoptosis. In one study, lentil sprouts were shown to reduce LDL cholesterol ("bad") when 60g a day were consumed for 8 weeks.
Sprouting has been practiced for centuries for both nutritional and culinary reasons. All grains are actually seeds and you can sprout most things. By sprouting grains it allows you to eat them in their raw form. You can add sprouted seeds and grains to salads, sandwiches or as toppers to stews and soups; I love them on toast with hummus!I haven’t mentioned nuts here as most nuts will not sprout unless they are truly raw. You can activate the nutrient potential of a nut that is not truly raw but it will never physically sprout as most often nuts have been processed at high temperatures which kill the enzymes required to begin germination.
How To Sprout
Sprouting is simple enough, it just requires good time management and planning. Soak them the night before and don't forget to rinse your sprouts a couple of times each day.
Choose something to sprout with. You can use sprouting jars. Or, use any jar but also wrap a cheesecloth over the top and securing with an elastic band. You can get a few ideas by doing a quick search.
Sterilise the jar you will use. You can read more here: https://www.kilnerjar.co.uk/sterilising-jam-jars-hygiene.
Place the seeds in the bottom of the jar, up to 1/3rd full and fill the jar up with pure water
Leave the seeds soak overnight (or for selected hours in the table at the end of this blog).
Soak for 12 hours. After the allotted time rinse the seeds very well and use them or continue to sprout.
To sprout you must rinse your seeds or grains each day and point downwards so they can drain, do this at least twice a day. Turn the jar so the sprouts have space to grow and create airflow.
It is really important to drain the jar thoroughly and not leave the seeds puddled in water or they will go rancid. Turn the jar on its side and at a slight angle so excess water can drain out and roll the jar to spread out the seeds.
It is fine to leave out at room temperature (70° is optimal). Keep out of direct sunlight but sit in natural light on a countertop or windowsill over the coming days.
And keep repeating this process for 2-4 days or until the sprouts are a useable size, 1/16 to 2 inches.
Make you sure rinse them very well on the final rinse but also to shake them dry as they will spoil if wet. I eat them that day but some people keep them in the fridge for a couple of days, in which case keep them dry and in a sealable container to avoid contamination.
Food authorities recommend cooking any sprouted items due to the risk food poisoning but this removes the beneficial enzymes. Bought sprouted products go through extensive testing to ensure safety and effectiveness because sprouts grow in warm, humid conditions making them susceptible to bacterial growth, such as E. coli and Salmonella. For many with a healthy immune system the benefits likely outweigh the risks but it should be a personal choice to grow your own. If you are growing your own keep good hygiene, sterilise your equipment well, buy good quality organic seeds, keep them as dry as possible between rinses and avoid anything that smells rancid or slimy and you should be fine. There are many books our there with more information, so do read around the subject.
Amaranth: 1-3 days, Barley: 2 days, Buckwheat: 2-3 days, Chickpeas: 3-4 days, Lentils: 2-3 days, Sunflower seeds: 2 days, Broccoli seeds 2-3days Rice: 3 days, Millet: 1 day, Mung beans: 3 days, Quinoa: 2 days.
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Sprouting For Your Furry Friend?
Sprouts are a way of providing chlorophyll and beneficial enzymes which aid digestion. Dogs eat a little grass from time to time which is cleansing and detoxifying. Most processed food is ‘dead’ and devoid of enzymes so this can be a nice way to replenish gut bacteria. A teaspoon of sprouts can be a nice addition to their dinner. Esmeralda used to love sprouted mung beans! Sunflower sprouts, lentil sprouts or broccoli spouts are nice ones to begin with too!