There is a tremendous increase in nutrients in sprouted foods when compared to their dried embryo. In sprouting, the vitamins, minerals and protein increase substantially with a corresponding decrease in calories and carbohydrate content. These comparisons are based on the equivalent water content in the foods measured. Analysis of dried seeds, grains and legumes shows a very low water content. But this increases up to tenfold when the same food is converted into sprouts. For an accurate comparison, each must be brought to a common denomination of equal water content to assess the exact change in nutritional value.
Sprouted mung beans, for instance, have an 8.3 increase of water content over dried beans.
The nutritional value of sprouted and dried mung beans can be compared by multiplying the-analyzed nutrients of sprouted mung beans by the factor of 8.3. Based on this criterion, the changes found in sprouted mung beans when compared with the figures for the beans in the dried state are as follows:
- Energy content – calories Decrease 15 percent
- Total carbohydrate content Decrease 15 percent
- Protein availability Increase 30 percent
- Calcium content Increase 34 percent
- Potassium content Increase 80 percent
- Sodium content Increase 690 percent
- Iron content Increase 40 percent
- Phosphorous content Increase 56 percent
- Vitamin A content Increase 285 percent
- Thiamine or Vitamin B1 content Increase 208 percent
- Riboflavin or Vitamin B2 content Increase 515 percent
- Niacin or Vitamin B3 content Increase 256 percent
- Ascorbic acid or Vitamin C content An infinite increase
The increase in protein availability is of great significance. It is a valuable indicator of the enhanced nutritional value of a food when sprouted. The simultaneous reduction in carbohydrate content indicates that many carbohydrate molecules are broken down during sprouting to allow absorption of atmospheric nitrogen and reforming into amino acids. The resultant protein is the most easily digestible of all proteins available in foods.
The remarkable increase in sodium content supports the view that sprouted foods offer nutritional qualities. Sodium is essential to the digestive process within the gastro-intestinal tract and also to the elimination of carbon dioxide. Together with the remarkable increase in vitamins, sodium materially contributes to the easy digestibility of sprouts.
Dried seeds, grains and legumes do not contain discernible traces of ascorbic acid, yet when sprouted, they reveal quite significant quantities, which are important in the body’s ability to metabolize proteins. The infinite increase in ascorbic acid derives from their absorption of atmospheric elements during growth.
Sprouts have several other benefits. They supply food in the predigested form: the food which has already been acted upon by the enzymes and made to digest easily. During sprouting, much of the starch is broken down into simple sugars such as glucose and sucrose by 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 sprouting, the beans lose their objectionable gas producing quality. Research has shown that oligosaccharides are responsible for gas formation. For maintenance of health, some amount of gas production is necessary, but it should be within safe limits. As the process of germination ends and sprouting begins, the percentage of oligosaccharides is reduced by 90 percent.
Sprouts contain a lot of fibre and water and, therefore, help overcome 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 be ensured 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.
Shantree Kacera, R., H., D.N., Ph.D.
Ayurvedic Living Nutritionist & Therapeutic Herbalist
5871 Bells Rd. London, ON. Canada, N6P 1P3