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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Don't Forget Your Sprouts

Have you heard? The National Cancer Institute, a member of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, recommends consuming 5 portions of fresh fruits and vegetables everyday. And they recommend sprouts as a good way to help you achieve that goal.

Sprouts are unique in that they are the only form of agriculture available in all four seasons that can be locally grown—and that means anywhere in the world, from Africa to Alaska! Their harvest cycle, from seed to salad, is only one week. Not only that, one pound of alfalfa seed, for example, yields 10-14 pounds of fresh “mini-salad” greens.

Even though it grows in a week, this kind of fast food doesn’t sacrifice any nutrition. Alfalfa, sunflower, clover and radish sprouts are all about 4% protein. Compare that to spinach—3%, romaine lettuce—1.5%, iceberg lettuce—0.8%, and milk—3.3%. These foods compare well because they are all approximately 90% water. But meat and eggs are the traditional protein foods for Americans. Meat is 19% and eggs are 13% protein and 11% fat. Compare that to soybean sprouts with 28% and lentil and pea sprouts at 26% protein. Soybeans sprouts have twice the protein of eggs and only 1/10 of the fat. Alfalfa sprouts are also one of the best green foods you can eat. They have more chlorophyll than spinach, kale, cabbage, or parsley.

Sprouts are not just salads. Grain and nut sprouts, such as wheat and sunflower, are rich in fats. While fats in flour and wheat germ have a reputation for getting rancid quickly (stores should refrigerate them), fats in sprouts last for weeks. The wheat germ oil in wheat sprouts is broken down into its essential fatty acid fractions—over 50% of which is the valuable Omega 6. While sunflower oil is our finest source of omega 6, germination of the sunflower sprout micellizes the fatty acids into an easily digestible, water soluble form saving our body the work of breaking it down and also protecting us against rancidity. Sunflower sprouts are also popular for their crispness and nutty flavor.

Need a good multi-vitamin? Eat more sprouts. Radish sprouts have 29 times more vitamin C than milk (29mg vs. 1mg) and 4 times the vitamin A (391 IU vs. 126). These spicy sprouts have 10 times more calcium than a potato (51mg vs. 5mg) and contain more vitamin C than pineapple. While mature radishes contain 10 IU/100g of provitamin A, the radish sprout contains 391 IU—39 times more vitamin A! This is the miracle of germination. Sprouts are a veritable vitamin factory!

Amazing Phytochemicals Alfalfa, radish, broccoli, clover and soybean contain concentrated amounts of phytochemicals (plant compounds) that can protect us against disease. Plant estrogens in sprouts function similarly to human estrogen but without side effects. They increase bone formation and density, prevent bone breakdown (osteoporosis) and are helpful in controlling hot flashes, menopause, PMS and fibrocystic breast tumors. Canavanine, an amino acid analog present in alfalfa, has demonstrated resistence to pancreatic, colon and leukemia cancers in vitro.

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers found substantial amounts of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates in broccoli sprouts, which are very potent inducers of phase 2 enzymes that protect cells from going malignant. Broccoli sprouts actually contain 10-100 times higher levels of these enzymes than does the mature vegetable.

Alfalfa sprouts are also one of our finest food sources of saponins. Saponins lower the bad cholesterol and fat but not the good HDL fats. Animal studies prove their benefit in arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Saponins also stimulate the immune system by increasing the activity of natural killer cells such as T-lymphocytes and interferon. The saponin content of alfalfa sprouts multiplies 450% over that of the unsprouted seed. Sprouts also contain an abundance of highly active antioxidants that prevent DNA destruction and protect us from the ongoing effects of aging. It wouldn’t be inconceivable to find a fountain of youth here—after all, sprouts represent the miracle of birth.

by Steve Meyerowitz, Sproutman®

Steve Meyerowitz, “Sproutman” is a health crusader and author of several books on health, diet, and nutrition including Sprouts the Miracle Food, Sproutman’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook, and Wheatgrass Nature’s Finest Medicine. His “home spouters,” the Freshlife Automatic Spouter and Hemp Prout Bag, used for indoor organic gardening are sold worldwide. You can learn more about his book and gardening inventions at

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