If you are looking for ways to make your meals more nutritious, then this post might be for you.* It is all about the benefits of sprouting and how you can sprout from home. Sprouting is a technique that is used by many cultures in Asia, including in India. In Ayurveda, the traditional medicinal system long-established in India, consumption of certain foods like sprouts are recommended depending on a person’s dosha (energetic constitution).
What are antinutrients?
Something that you may not know (we didn’t either, until reading up on this) is that the nutrients contained in plants aren’t easily digested by our bodies. This is due to the fact that plants may contain compounds known as ‘antinutrients’ which effectively reduces our digestive system’s ability to absorb nutrients. It’s kind of like a double-edged sword, you will have to face the consequences before you can reap the benefits.
From the perspective of the plant, the antinutrients act as their defence system against both bacterial infections and annoying herbivores like insects or animals who keep trying to eat them as their meal. The plant produces these antinutrients to various degrees in the hope that the herbivore will feel sick after eating them, and move on to another food source (how amazingly intelligent is nature?!).
Most humans are able to digest antinutrients in varying doses, but for anyone with a sensitive gut it can be a more complex process. There are no hard and fast rules in relation to how it works; you may be able to better digest one antinutrient over another or certain antinutrients may irritate your gut more than others.
If you have a balanced diet, then it is likely that antinutrients won’t affect you that much because you wouldn’t be consuming enough of them to feel impacted.
The three most commonly occuring antinutrients are phytic acid, lectins (found in legumes and wholegrains) and oxalates (prevalent especially in cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, kale, chard etc.).
The reason for providing you with this background information is that despite the presence of antinutrients in various plants, grains and legumes, there are ways to improve their nutritional value, so that you can continue to enjoy them.
Soaking, fermenting, cooking and sprouting are just some of the techniques that have long been used by humans to disable the presence of antinutrients. Even more effective is a combination of some of these techniques. The rest of this post is primarily focused on the technique of sprouting. Click here if you are interested in the fermentation process and would like to read more about its prevalence in Indian cuisine.
The Science Behind Sprouting
Okay let’s return to antinutrients just once more. They are usually located in the skin of many grains, nuts, beans and legumes and are water-soluble. This means that soaking such foods allows for the antinutrients to dissolve, at times reducing their antinutrient content by nearly fifty percent!**
Sprouting is the practice of germinating seeds, thereby making them easier to digest and enabling your body to better access the nutrients contained within them. Once sprouted, these seeds can be consumed either raw or cooked. You can sprout anything from beans, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds.
When you sprout such foods, changes take place within the seed that then leads to the degradation of antinutrients.
The Health Benefits of Sprouting
So why sprout? Here are a few of the many health benefits associated with sprouts:
- Increasing your consumption of nutrients - Researches in this field believe that sprouting can increase the availability of key nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins C & E as well as sugars.
- Makes food easier to digest - Sprouted foods unlock beneficial enzymes which play an important role in breaking down the food and ensuring that the nutrients from it are absorbed. Sprouted foods generally contain more crude fibre than their unsprouted versions, and this too assists with pushing out waste and toxins from our bodies.
- Improves heart health - Sprouts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce the stress on your heart. The potassium content in sprouts also works to reduce blood pressure levels.
- Aids in weight loss - Sprouts are loaded with fibre and inhibit the release of the ‘hunger hormone’, which means they keep you fuller for longer and reduce your tendency to overeat or snack. They are also very nutritious, but without the added calories.
Now that you know a little bit more about sprouting and its benefits, are you ready to give it a try?
It is important when sprouting to be very careful of cross-contamination. Ensure that your hands are clean, as should be the jars and any other utensils that you use. Opt for organic produce when sprouting or cook the sprouts to kill off any bacteria.
Here's what we did:
- Saturday 3.00pm - Soaked the beans (we used 5 different varieties of beans but you can use just use moong beans if you like).
- Sunday 9 am - Rinsed, then again every 4 hours (1pm, 5pm and 9pm). Placed in a colander over a bowl to drain the water and covered with a damp dish cloth.
- Monday 6 am - Rinsed and covered the colander with a damp dish cloth. Kept in a dark corner.
- Monday evening - Cooked half an hour in water then added them to a curry.
Use your sprouts to make this delicious Goan-inspired dish which we made using our Goan Chicken spice blend. Just replace the main protein chicken, with the sprouts and we guarantee you it will be a hit! We did it too, and look how delicious it turned out!
*This article should not be used as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your health professional to ensure that any dietary changes you make are in line with your health and wellbeing.
** As per this study that was conducted with chickpeas, mungbean and cowpea - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4008754/