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Tap Into The Healing Power of Sprouts
Get a Jumpstart on Spring with the Medicinal Power of Baby Plants by Steve Meyerowitz, Sproutman®
When you eat sprouts, you are consuming liquid chlorophyll—literally sunshine energy transformed by green plants. Spring is a good time to plug in your body and get charged with the green energy of living foods.
For a long time, we’ve known that sprouts are very healthy. As baby vegetables, they tend to be nutritionally concentrated. In fact, the seed contains everything the new plant needs for its development into a mature vegetable. In this respect, you could call sprouts nutritionally dense vegetables.
For example, radish sprouts have 40 times more pro-vitamin A (at 391 IU) than a mature, organic radish vegetable (at 8 IU). The vitamin C in green peas jumps five times from 1.5 mg to 10.4 mg after just three days of sprouting. And while the vitamin C content in raw spinach (28.1 mg) is similar to that of radish sprouts (28.9 mg), the niacin content of the radish sprouts (2.85 mg) is four times greater than spinach (0.72 mg).
Of course, the most popular nutrition marker is protein. Greens like lettuce and spinach are not known as good sources of protein. In fact, while head lettuce contains less than 1% (0.9), alfalfa sprouts are 4% protein. That’s even more than romaine lettuce (1.8%), or the mighty spinach (2.86%). Because the development of protein requires sufficient resources of vitamins and minerals, when a low protein food such as a leafy green sprout has a good amount of protein, that is a good marker for its overall nutrition.
But a food’s nutrition is more than its quantity of vitamins and minerals. The real healing potential in a vegetable lies in its phytochemical content. These are plant compounds such as antioxidants, bioflavonoids, carotenes, phytosterols, glucosinolates, sulforaphanes, isoflavones, phyto (plant) estrogens, and polyphenols. Such compounds are especially abundant in the embryonic or ‘sprout’ stage in plants and vegetables.
In a 1997 study by Xia Xu, PhD, at the Dept. of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, he found that coumesterol, the most dominant phytoestrogen, increased dramatically in soybeans after only 5 days of sprouting (a 4,200% increase). That’s 42 times more coumesterol (38.55mg/100g) in the sprout than in the unsprouted soy. Red Clover sprouts were second best, increasing to 28.06mg/100g. Phytoestrogens are plant hormones that mimic many of the benefits of estrogen therapy, such as increasing bone density in menopausal women, decreasing total cholesterol while increasing the good HDL cholesterol, and suppressing angiogenesis (tumor growth). In addition, they lack most of the side effects of standard estrogen therapy, thereby making them a viable alternative, in my opinion. Alfalfa, clover, soybean, lentils, and pea sprouts are all rich in another plant compound – saponins. You can see the sudsy-soapy evidence of this compound in the rinse water of these sprouts. Saponin is a natural detergent. In fact, it may be able to scrub your arteries clean: cardiologist Lawrence D. Rink, MD, made that conclusion based on a five year double-blind clinical study with 45 of his patients. He recorded a reduction in the inflammatory C-Reactive Protein by 50.4%, and in the bad LDL fats by 16.6%, and a simultaneous increase in the good HDL fats by 11.2%. This was based on a daily dose of 1120 – 2240 mg (1/10 – 1/5 of an ounce) of alfalfa sprouts. Xia Xu found that the saponin content of alfalfa sprouts increased by 450% over five days of growth.
But the most dramatic examples of sprout nutrition come from the crucifer family of vegetables which includes broccoli, cabbage, radish, kale, mustard greens, raab, and kohlrabi. Starting in 1992, scientists at Johns Hopkins University examined the anti-cancer activity of a group of compounds called ‘glucosinolates’ found in broccoli and the Brassica family of foods which includes kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard, and radish. As these glucosinolates-rich foods are digested, they form an enzyme sulforaphane. Numerous studies have shown that sulforaphane interrupts the growth cycle of cancer cells, rendering them dormant. “In animals and human cells, we have demonstrated, unequivocally, that these compounds [glucosinolates] can substantially reduce the incidence, rate of development, and size of tumors,” stated Paul Talalay, Ph.D, chief research pharmacologist at Johns Hopkins University. Talalay found that, at only five days growth, broccoli sprouts contained 50 – 100 more glucosinolates than the mature broccoli vegetable.
Research on Sprout Medicine for Cancer, Diabetes, and High Cholesterol
Although all the crucifers contain glucosinolates, broccoli sprouts have been the most researched because of their initial focus in these studies. So don’t stop enjoying the sprouts of kale, cabbage, radish, and mustard – the glucosinolates in these sprouts convert to sulforaphane upon digestion, and it is that enzyme which blocks the alpha receptors on cancer cells, cutting off their nutrition and arresting their growth. And the research with sprouts extends beyond cancer to diabetes, cholesterol, ulcers, and more. Here are a few examples that indicate the healing potential inside these embryonic plants. While the link between broccoli sprouts and cancer has dominated the interest of researchers, clover, alfalfa, soybeans, flax, wheatgrass, and sunflower sprouts also fill out the picture. Notice the international scope of these studies.
Breast Cancer: “Sulforaphane, a dietary component of broccoli/broccoli sprouts, inhibits breast cancer stem cells.” (Clin Cancer Res. University of Michigan, May, 2010) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2862133/
Breast Cancer: “Flaxseed sprouts induce apoptosis and inhibit growth in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 Human Breast Cancer cells.” (In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. Mar 2012.
North Dakota State Univ., Fargo, ND. USA) For prevention of breast cancer, a four ounce daily portion of vegetable sprouts, such as broccoli, is recommended.
Bladder Cancer: “We report herein that dietary administration to rats of a freeze-dried aqueous extract of broccoli sprouts significantly and dose-dependently inhibited bladder cancer development...” (Cancer Research. Feb 2008. New Zealand and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York) http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/68/5/1593.long
Bladder and Urinary Tract: “Sulforaphane Inhibits 4-Aminobiphenyl-induced DNA Damage in Bladder Cells and Tissues.” (Carcinogenesis. Sept 2010. Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY, 14263, USA)
Diabetes: “Broccoli sprouts reduce oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes: A randomized double-blind clinical trial.” (European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Aug. 2011. Univ. of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran)
Cholesterol: “Broccoli sprouts powder could improve serum triglyceride and oxidized LDL/LDL- cholesterol ratio in type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.” (Diabetes Res Clin Pract. Feb 2012. Obesity Research Center)
Cholesterol: “Broccoli sprouts and extracts rich in glucosinolates and isothiocyanates affect cholesterol metabolism and genes involved in lipid homeostasis in hamsters.” (Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry. Feb 2011. Departamento de Biotecnologiìa e Ingenieriìa de Alimentos, NL, Mexico.)
Stomach Cancer/Ulcers: “Total polyphenols, antioxidant, and anti-proliferative activities of different extracts in mung bean seeds and sprouts.” (Plant Foods Human Nutrition. Mar 2012. Agricultural Research and Extension Services, Naju, South Korea)
Gall Bladder and Liver: “Cynarin-Rich Sunflower Sprouts Possess Both Anti-glycative and Antioxidant Activities.” Cynarin increases bile flow, and promotes gall bladder and liver health. (Journal Agricultural Food Chemistry. Mar 2012. Institute for Food and Bioresource Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, China)
Bisphenol A Poisoning: Wheatgrass Anti–BPA. “Inhibition by wheat sprout (Triticum aestivum) juice of Bisphenol A-induced oxidative stress in young women.” (Mutat Res. June 2011. College of Pharmacy, Seoul, S. Korea)
I have only cited examples from the last few years. Much more research exists. But the point is that Hippocrates was right: “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.”
However, there is one more nutritional benefit that these studies miss! Scientists are trained to define nutritional benefit according to the presence and amount of chemicals. Western scientists are not known for measuring energy or vital force such as ‘Qi’ (pronounced Chi). But that is truly the most important benefit of these baby plants. Their Qi resonates loudly. Healing is best effected by moving those amazing nutrients into the bloodstream. The high level of bio-activity of these embryonic plants provides the current that delivers its natural medicine. If you could see its aura, a broccoli sprout would radiate far brighter than the broccoli vegetable. These sprouts are radiating and effervescing right up to the minute you put them in your mouth, and again in your stomach, and in your bloodstream.
Tips to Grow Your Own:
Steve Meyerowitz (Sproutman) recommends starting out with an entry level sprouter such as his Hemp Sprout Bag – a superior alternative to jars, which have a reputation for promoting mold. His favorite sprouter for growing tall, green sprouts is the Freshlife Automatic Sprouter which waters automatically and grows baby greens and micro greens such as sunflower, pea shoots, buckwheat, wheatgrass, and more.
Sproutman’s Basic Sprout Bread Recipe
By Steve Meyerowitz, Sproutman®
(extracted with permission from Sproutman’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook by Steve Meyerowitz)
Try making this slow cooked or dehydrated flourless bread made from ground up sprouts. Just made from ground up sprouts!
Step 1) Soak 1 cup of hard wheat berries in a jar for 8-10 hours. Wheatberries are available from your health food store.
Step 2) After soaking, sprout the berries in Sproutman’s HempSprout Bag (preferred method) or a jar for 2 days. Be sure to rinse the seeds at least twice per day.
Step 3) Examine the seed and focus on the length of the shoot. The shoot is short, thick and grows in the opposite direction of the hair-like roots. In order to achieve the desired consistency, the shoot must be approximately the length of the berry. Typically, this is two days growth. Keep in mind that longer shoots will make the bread too chewy.
Step 4) Now grind the sprouts to a paste in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, grind them in any grinder that will turn the sprouts into a paste. Some other appliances that also work are a wheatgrass juicer, a single auger vegetable juicer (such as SoloStarIIIc), a twin gear juicer such as the Greenstar, or an old fashioned cast iron meat grinder. For the juicers, be sure to use their homogenizer feature. Blenders, even powerful ones like the Vita Mix, do not work. Whichever machine you use, it is crucial that the resulting “sprout dough” be ground thoroughly to a smooth paste. If necessary, reinsert the sprouts for a second run through the grinder. A smooth paste or “dough” makes for a softer, delectable bread. On the other hand, chunks of unground sprouts turn hard like chewing on pebbles in your bread!
Step 5) Grab the dough in hand and form a 3 x 3 inch loaf. Wet your hands frequently while shaping the loaf. Take this opportunity to kneed the loaf so the dough becomes smoother and more consistent.
Step 6a) Warm Oven Method. Lay the loaf on flat oven tray such as a cookie sheet. Prepare the tray with a light layer of sesame or poppy seeds. This keeps the bread from sticking to the tray and is an alternative to using oil. Bake slowly at 250 degrees F. Typical bread baking temperatures are 450 degrees F. This temperature, while not being raw, allows you to successfully create a “loaf” of bread similar to the Essene breads you find in the health food store freezer. Cooking time is approximately 3 hours. It could take an hour longer. It all depends on how thick you make your loaf and the accuracy of the thermostat in your oven. Lift the bread off the baking tray momentarily after 1-2 hours of baking. This ensures there will be no sticking of the bread bottom to the tray. The bread is ready when the underside is firm and no longer mushy. The inside of the bread will remain slightly moist while the top of the bread may harden.
Step 6b) Dehydrator Method. Modify step 5 above by forming a flat bread instead of a loaf. Throw the loaf on a wood cutting board and flatten it to approximately one-half inch. This is the “real” Essene bread. The Essenes were a religious tribe that inhabited the area near the Dead Sea in current day Israel. They baked their flat breads on stones in the hot Middle East sun. This is the original unleavened bread or “matzoh.” We replicate these sun temperatures in the dehydrator. 118 degrees F. should be your maximum. Lay it out on butcher’s wrap paper or similar non-porous surface so it does not drip. Drying time will be approximately 10 hours. The bread should be thoroughly dry. Break off a piece to test it. If there is moisture in the center, put it back in the dehydrator. Moisture creates mold and requires refrigeration. On the other hand, a fully dry bread needs to be stored in a moisture proof bag or container and can be stored for weeks as with any dried foods. Sproutman’s favorite dehydrator is the Sedona.
Enjoy this one ingredient sprout bread. Once you have achieved success, consider adding other ingredients for flavor and texture. And there are also other many versions of this recipe from which you can make pizzas, bagels, cookies, crackers, and more. And other grains such as spelt, Kamut, rye, etc. For all these and more, please check out my Kitchen Garden Cookbook.
Thank you. Be Sproutful
Learn more about sprouters here.
Steve Meyerowitz was christened ‘Sproutman’ in the 1970s in a feature article in Vegetarian Times because his New York City apartment was always filled with gardens of mini-vegetables. They were part of his lifetime fight against chronic allergies and asthma. After 20 years of disappointment with orthodox medicine, he became symptom-free through his use of diet, juices, and fasting. In 1980, he founded ‘The Sprout House’, a ‘no-cooking’ school in New York City teaching the benefits of a living foods diet.
Steve is a health crusader and author of 10 books including Sprouts the Miracle Food, Sproutman’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook, Juice Fasting and Detoxification, and Wheatgrass Nature's Finest Medicine. His most recent book is Sproutman’s 7 Day Just Juice Diet. For classes and more information, visit with him at: www. Sproutman.com.
We all have lazy days, but who can blame us? The Freshlife Automatic Sprouter remembers to water seeds three times per hour!