All sprouts are renowned for being healthy. Occupying the top position are broccoli sprouts. Why are broccoli sprouts Number 1? It’s because broccoli sprouts are by far the best source of sulforaphane which is one of the most important phytonutrients to have been discovered in the past 30 years.
We’re going to take a look at sprouts, how to grow sprouts and we’re focusing on broccoli sprouts so you can learn why they have earned their special reputation.
What Are Sprouts?
Sprouts are baby plants. In nature, sprouts grow when the seeds of the plant, which have been spread by animals or the wind, settle into the soils and are rained on. If enough rain falls, the seeds soak in enough water and can start to grow. Because seeds are the plant’s method of propagation, nature has designed them with a clever enzyme inhibitor system that enables seeds to stay viable for months or years until the seeds are in a viable environment for growing (water and nutrients in the soil). However, when seeds are soaked by the rain, the enzyme inhibitors are released and the seeds can start to grow.
Sprouts grow fast because the young seedlings are pretty vulnerable to attack by birds and insects. They also contain self-defence nutrients in much greater proportion than the mature plant which we’ll learn about later.
What Are Broccoli Sprouts?
Broccoli sprouts are the young shoots of the broccoli plant. Like all sprouts, they’re extremely rich in nutrients because they contain all the information the plant needs to fully mature.
And, like all sprouts, broccoli sprouts are fast growing and can reach 5-7 cm in height in just a few days.
Are Sprouts Good For You?
The answer is a resounding YES! The reason why is that sprouts are loaded with nutrients because they contain the whole plant information concentrated into a very tiny shoot. Sprouted seeds contain a lot of enzymes which are needed to help it grow. The good news for us is that these enzymes are also beneficial for humans and here’s why:
If we eat cooked foods that are devoid of enzymes, the body has to make enzymes needed for digesting these foods. Really our bodies have more important enzymes to make but digestion is one of our priority functions since without nutrients, we die! What’s great about sprouts, is that the enzymes in them help to replace those that our bodies no longer produces so our bodies can return to making more essential enzymes.
Sprouts are a very concentrated source of nutrients and, weight for weight, are richer than mature plants in protein, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and vitamins C and K.
There are studies showing how sprouting helps increase protein content. Sprouts generally contain higher levels of essential amino acids than the original seeds, with certain individual amino acids increasing by as much as 30% during the sprouting process.
In addition, the proteins in sprouts may also be easier to digest. This is likely due to the sprouting process, which seems to reduce the amount of anti-nutrients by more than 80%. Anti-nutrients such as protease inhibitors, phytates and tannins, stop us from digesting certain nutrients in foods.
Sprouts are also great sources of antioxidants including flavonoids.
How Many Calories in Sprouts?
Despite being packed with nutrients, sprouts are very low in calories and typically contain around 10-11 calories per 100g (4oz).
You can see from the list below that sprouts contain the least amount of calories per 100g (4oz) of common vegetables.
Benefits of Sprouts
Sprouts may help control blood sugar levels. Tests done on people with raised sugar levels (diabetics) showed a reduction in haemoglobin A1c after 8 weeks of consuming sprouts compared with those in the control group who didn’t eat any sprouts. Haemoglobin A1C is a marker of how the body manages sugar levels in the blood. This may be down to the amylase enzyme, naturally present in sprouts, and which is the enzyme that helps break down and digest sugars.
Sprouts also help with digestion because of the enzymes they contain. Sprouts contain protease, to help with protein digestion; amylase to help break down sugars and carbohydrates and lipase to help assimilate fats. Much of our modern day food has no enzyme activity so the body is forced to make its own enzymes.
A happy side effect of this abundance of enzymes in sprouts is an anti-ageing effect. By providing the body with a complete food that contains enzymes needed for digesting that food (like sprouts and other raw foods), the body can focus on creating enzymes for other purposes such as anti-ageing. Telomerase helps the telomeres at the ends of DNA replicate perfectly without loss. Telomerase has been called the immortality enzyme.
Broccoli Sprouts vs Broccoli
We all know that broccoli is good for us, but what you may not know is why broccoli sprouts are so much better. In fact, rather than the antioxidants and vitamin C that mature broccoli is renowned for, it’s the sulforaphane that comes from broccoli sprouts that should be getting your attention.
Broccoli Sprouts Benefits
Broccoli sprouts share the same benefits as other sprouts – they are both low calorie, nutritionally dense and abundant in enzymes. But, there is an extra benefit that sets them apart from the rest:
Just to give you a clue as to how important sulforaphane is, we can say that the ONLY reason we grow broccoli sprouts is because of the sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is not present in growing broccoli sprouts, as it is only released when they’re chewed (by insects or humans!) or juiced. For more information about this incredible phytonutrient, please see our page dedicated to sulforaphane.
Sprouting Broccoli Seeds
Although sprouting seeds seems as if it would be easy, there are many things that can adversely affect the quality and quantity of sprouts.
The trick with sprouting is to get a good balance of warmth, damp and light without causing mould to grow.
How to Grow Broccoli Sprouts
- Start with broccoli seeds
- Measure out a small amount (like a desert spoon full) of seeds.
- Rinse the seeds.
- Spread the broccoli seeds onto a shallow tray.
- Pour enough water over the seeds so that they are completely covered.
- Put the tray into a cupboard or in a dark place.
- Allow the broccoli seeds to soak for 12 hours.
- Drain the water, careful not to lose any seeds.
- Rinse the seeds and drain them again.
- Return the tray to the cupboard for a further 12 hours.
- Rinse and drain the seeds at least every 2 hours to avoid growth of mould.
- Now bring the tray into sunlight the sprouts into the sunlight.
- Harvest them at 4 days when the broccoli sprouts are at their peak. This is the time when they will produce the most sulforaphane.
- Now you can serve them fresh on salads or sprinkled onto warm (not hot) food but be sure to chew thoroughly so as to maximise the amount of sulforaphane released.
- Alternatively you can juice the broccoli sprouts, keeping the blender at low speed so as not to heat the sprouts too much and destroy the naturally present vitamin C that is essential to make sulforaphane.
Broccoli Sprouts Where to Buy
Broccoli sprouts are less easy to find these days because tests revealed that 90% of sprouts on shop shelves were harbouring unsafe levels of E-coli and salmonella. You may still be able to find them at your local health food store but you’ll find that your supermarket no longer stocks sprouts due to the health risk.
Before you buy broccoli sprouts, we do recommend that you carefully study the sprouts before you buy them. Well nourished sprouts should have a strong, dark green colour. Nurtured sprouts point upwards towards the sky – if not, then they have been grown in a rotating drum and that does not result in nutritious sprouts. The stalks should be a very very pale green/white at the bottom and getting darker green at the top towards the leaves. Look for evidence of mould (very fine white hairs or a white tinge before you can see the hairs) which is a sign that the sprouts were not washed frequently enough during the growing process. If the sprouts are wilting or don’t look as if they’re still growing, avoid since sprouts can be festering with E-coli and salmonella.
Buy Broccoli Sprouts
If you prefer to minimise your risks, then we recommend you buy the juice of broccoli sprouts which is bottled immediately after juicing so there can be no chance of bacterial growth. The sprouts we grow are nurtured in nutrient-rich media since we use special mineral rich spring water. We make sure that the sprouts grow naturally as they would do in nature (and don’t use a rotating drum). Our sprouts are grown in the perfect temperature and light to maximise the nutrients. Importantly, we rinse our sprouts EVERY 5 MINUTES to avoid growth of mould. When the sprouts are ready after 4 days, they are washed and juiced and immediately bottled. Then we preserve the juices at low temperatures using ultra high pressure (HPP). This process is designed to maximise the amount of sulforaphane in the juice.
We grow broccoli sprouts for the sole purpose of giving you the best source of sulforaphane in the world since we are the only producer of broccoli sprout juice that uses HPP to preserve the juice.