Author; Dr Ranjeet Singh
Sprouts are considered as wonder foods. They are the freshest and most nutritious of all vegetables available to the human diet. By a process of natural transmutation, sprouted food acquires vastly improved digestibility and nutritional qualities when compared to non-sprouted embryo from which it drives.
Sprouted foods have been part of the diet of many ancient races for thousands of years. Even to this day, the Chinese retain their fame for delicious mung bean sprouts. Sprouts provide all the essential vitamins and minerals. They should form a vital component of our diet. Sprouting requires no constant care but only and occasional sprinkling of water.
All edible grains, seeds and legumes can be sprouted. Generally the following are used for sprouting:
- Grains- wheat, ragi, bajra and barley.
- Seeds- alfalfa seeds,radish seeds, fenugreek seeds, carrot seeds coriander seeds, pumpkin seeds and muskmelon seeds.
- Legumes- mung, bengal gram, groundnut and peas.
How to Sprout?
As a first step, a good variety of seeds should be used for sprouting. It should be ensured that the seeds, legumes or grains are of the sproutable type. Soybeans do not sprout well as they often become sour. Wheat has to be grown in soil. It is advisable to use seeds which are not chemically treated as this slows down the germination rate. The seeds should be washed thoroughly and then shocked overnight in a jar of pure water the. The jar should be covered with cheesecloth or wire screening. The duration of soacking will depend upon the size of the seed. Small seeds are soaked for 5 hours, medium size for 8 hours and beans and grains for 10 to 12 hours.
On the following morning, the seeds should be rinsed and the water drained off. Not more than one fourth of the jar should be filled with the seeds for sprouting. Soaking makes the seeds grains or legumes fatty, pulpy and full of water. It should therefore be ensured that the jar has enough room for the seeds to expand during sprouting. They will expand about 8 times their original size. The jar should be kept at a place which is exposed neither to chill nor hot winds. It should also be ensure that the mouth of the jar is not completely covered so as to allow air in it. The seeds should be rinsed and water drained off three times everyday till they are ready to eat.
The seeds will germinate and become sprouts in 2 or 3 days from commencement of soaking depending on temperature and humidity. Care should always be taken to ensure that sprouts do not lie in water. They should be kept well drained to prevent souring. Sprouts are at their optimum level of flavour and tenderness when tiny green leaves appear at the tips. Their nutritional value is also optimum to retain their freshness and nutritional value, they should be placed in a refrigerator, if they cannot be consumed immediately after reaching suitable maturity. Sprouts can be kept for several days in this way.
There is a amazing increase in nutrients in sprouted foods when compared to their dried embryo. In the process of sprouting, the vitamins, minerals and protein increase substantially with corresponding decrease in calories and carbohydrate count content.
Sprouts have several other benefits. They supply food in predigested form, that is the food which has already been acted upon by enzymes and made to digest easily. During sprouting, much of the starch is brocken into simple sugars such as glucose by action of the enzyme ‘ amylase’. Proteins are converted into amino acids and amides. Fats and oils are converted into more simple fatty acids by the action of the enzyme lipase.
During spotting the beans lose their objectionable gas producing quality. Research has shown that oligosaccharides are responsible for a gas formation, for maintenance of health, some amount of gas production is necessary. But it should be within the safe limit. As the process of germination ends and sprouting begins, the percentage of oligosaccharides is reduced by 90. Sprouts contain a lot of fibre and water, and therefore, are helpful in overcoming constipation.
Sprouts are an extremely inexpensive method of obtaining a concentration of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. They have in them all the constituent nutrients of fruits and vegetables and are live foods. Eating sprouts is the safest and best way of getting the advantage of both fruits and vegetables without contamination and harmful insecticides.
It should, however be ensure that seeds and dried beans are purchased from a store where they are fresh, unsprayed and packaged as food. Seeds that are packaged for planting purposes may contain Mercury compounds or other toxic chemicals.