Sprouts: Super, Simple, Nutritious and Healthy

What will grow fast and easy in any climate? What requires no soil or sunshine to grow? What provides an easy to prepare food that offers numerous nutrients and health benefits?


alfalfa sproutsSprouts first became popular in the 1970s as a healthy option for those striving to improve their food choices.  As the nutritional and health benefits of sprouts have become more known, bakers, chefs, athletes, food manufacturers and others are all looking at different ways to incorporate sprouts into popular foods.

Cereals, grains, lentils and legumes form the basis of vegetarian diets.  While continuing to be the time-honored choices for the preparation of meals with adequate protein, low in fat, and high in fiber, these same foods can be transformed into more nutrient-dense servings with the addition of sprouts.

What makes sprouts nutritious?

Sprouts are very nutritious, as they contain all the elements that a plant needs for life and growth.  The simple process of sprouting brings out many enzymes in germinated seeds, legumes, and grains, making them easier to digest.  It also increases the amounts and bioavailability of protein, vitamins and minerals, transforming them into nutrition powerhouses.  Overall, sprouts provide excellent quality nutrients and, by weight, are the rich sources of an array of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.

Are there different kinds of sprouts?

Yes! Besides the more popular sources—namely alfalfa and beans, sprouts can also be obtained from many other grains, including wheat, barley, rye, buckwheat, brown rice, etc., which we generally eat in their more traditional milled-flour forms.  Sprouting grains increases many of the grains’ key nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, fiber, and essential amino acids often lacking in milled grains, such as lysine.

Where can I buy sprouts?

Finding ready to eat sprouts in regular grocery stores makes them very accessible.  Natural food stores and online stores usually offer a wider variety of sprouts, ready to be used or seeds, grains, and beans that can be sprouted at home.

How can I grow sprouts at home?

  • You can grow your own sprouts by following these simple directions:
  • Buy seeds, grains, lentils and beans that are guaranteed and look healthy
  • Start with small amounts
  • Measure ½ cup of item (seeds or grains or beans) you want to sprout.
  • Wash thoroughly and place the washed seeds in a glass jar for smaller sized seeds/grains or in a medium sized bowl for the larger sized beans
  • Add 2 cups of water, mix well, cover with a lid or thin piece of muslin cloth May need to add more water for larger sized beans- to allow for proper soaking.
  • Leave overnight at room temperature for adequate soaking to occur.
  • Drain out water and rinse the soaked seeds, grains or beans gently
  • Place the soaked, rinsed seeds, grains or beans in a glass jar for smaller sized items and the larger beans in a colander lined with paper towel or thin muslin cloth.
  • Set aside the glass jar, or colander at room temperature. Choose a spot with minimum or no direct light.
  • Repeat the rinsing and above step for 3 to 4 days for the smaller seeds and grains to complete sprouting. Larger beans will require about 6 days to sprout fully.
  • Store sprouts in glass jars or plastic containers in refrigerator.
  • Use the refrigerated sprouts within one week.

To preserve their maximum nutritional value eat sprouts raw in salads or as snacks Sprouts will enhance cooked dishes as well. The list below provides easy ways to include sprouts in your diet:

  • Eat them fresh and uncooked, as a snack
  • Steam and add spices of your choice
  • Stir-fry with other vegetables  (mung bean, alfalfa, radish, or other sprouts)
  • Add to tossed salads (alfalfa, mung beans, or mixed lentils sprouts)
  • Top sandwiches with alfalfa sprouts along with other vegetables and cheeses
  • Blend into fruit juices or shakes (mung bean, lentil, cereal or grain sprouts)
  • Stir into soups and stews (mung bean, lentil, cereal and grain sprouts)
  • Combine in rice dishes  (lentil, mung bean, fenugreek or other sprouts)
  • Mix into pancake or waffle batter (buckwheat, rye, wheat or brown rice sprouts)
  • Grind to a paste to make sandwich fillings
  • Top omelets or scrambled eggs
  • Incorporate into your favorite veggie burger mix
  • Add to vegetarian sushi and wraps
  • Mix with soft cheeses or salsa and serve as a dip

Buy sprouts next time on your next shopping trip and discover how easy they are to fit into any meal!

Want to learn more about sprouts?  Check out the following sources:

27 Responses to “Sprouts: Super, Simple, Nutritious and Healthy”

  1. This was a very useful piece of information, Vijaya.

    Could you please suggest some of the rich in protein Indian food that can be consumed on daily basis? And one more thing, Do sprouts cause kidney stones?


    • Vijaya Jain MSc, MS, RD, CDN
      Vijaya Jain

      Dear RV,

      Thanks for your comment and questions. First of all, sprouts do not cause kidney stones. The basic process of sprouting increases the bio availability of the nutrients present in the food.
      Your second question regarding which Indian foods are rich in protein- lentils and split lentils called “dal” are the most common source of proteins in Indian diets. Additionally, milk, yogurt, are other common sources of protein foods in the Indian diet. Vegetables and cereals also contribute small amounts of protein.

    • Debbie King MS RD LD

      You are correct. Sprouts that have not been handled safely may contain bacteria that would cause illness. When someone grows their own sprouts this is much less likely. If there is any question in your mind about the safety of raw sprouts you should not eat them.

  2. charles

    This is charles from india. I would like to know the best time to eat sprouts on a daily basis and how much quantity of sprouts i should take on a daily basis…

    Thanks & Regards
    Charles. D..

  3. Neeraj Muthuswamy

    I have been eating only Sprouts for the past 2-3 years…everyday for the lunch (250gms or so). however, i am still over weight …
    Pls advise if there is any side effects of sprouts …gaining weight

  4. Thanks for the page. I am a whole foods vegan and looking at nutrition. I’m interested to find sources which show the actual nutritional values of sprouted food vs non-sprouted. In addition, checking whether any nutritions lost when sprouting. The enzyme release interests me too. I research for human and canine nutrition.


    • Debbie King MS RD LD

      This question required research and at this time we can find no evidence to support an increase or reduction of purine content when lentils or other legumes are sprouted. We consume purine from the foods we eat and our body converts it to uric acid. If we find additional research on this we will post it.

  5. Lentils.. .mixed lentils.. I read every where, with lentils sprouting its decrease protien content in lentils ,
    100 gm raw cooked mixed lentils =?(protien)
    100 gm uncooked sprouts mixed lentils=?(protien)
    Pls tell exact ans and guide. Thanks

  6. Harry

    Very interesting comments on sprouts, I am supposed to be on a low fibre diet for a few weeks can you consider most small seed sprouts low fibre?

    • Debbie King MS RD LD

      Most small seed sprouts contain about 2.4 grams of dietary fiber/fibre per cup, which is over twice the amount of fiber in romaine lettuce. I would not recommend eating seed sprouts, but please talk to the medical advisor that put you on a low fiber/fibre diet.

Vijaya Jain MSc, MS, RD, CDN

Vijaya Jain is a Registered Dietitian with Masters degrees in Foods and Nutrition. She is a Nutrition Consultant, with over 30 years of experience in community, clinical and international nutrition programs focused on improving the nutritional status by reducing malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies among the vulnerable populations in developing countries. She is an advocate and Board member of the New York State WIC Association. As a practicing vegetarian, she specializes in designing sustainable solutions using plant-based foods to meet protein and other nutrient needs.

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