Move over, broccoli, there’s another superfood vying for top dibs as a cancer-fighting powerhouse.
With many times the nutrients and far more nutritional bioavailability than broccoli, this superfood should be in everyone’s cancer-prevention diet.
What’s more, it’s affordable and easy to obtain—or grow yourself—even in the dead of winter.
I’m talking about sprouts.
Sprouts are young greens, usually only a few days old. Their seeds have just barely germinated, with stems and leaves a mere half to one inch long.
The process of sprouting involves soaking seeds or legumes in water for about 12 hours, prompting their outer layer to rip open and expose a young shoot.
Yet for their miniature size, they offer an outlandish amount of nutritional support – and a slew of health benefits.
Young sprouts boast from ten to 100 times the nutrients of the garden-grown variety of the same food. Take broccoli sprouts, for instance.
Broccoli sprouts – In a cancer-fighting
class of their own?
Broccoli sprouts are loaded with glucoraphanin – the biological precursor to the anticancer compound sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane has been identified as the most beneficial compound in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables.
Your body requires the enzyme myrosinase – also present in broccoli – to convert glucoraphanin to sulforaphane. Unfortunately, myrosinase often goes missing due to high temperatures involved in cooking broccoli, which presents a compelling reason to consume raw broccoli sprouts on a weekly basis.
But it’s only the beginning. Broccoli sprouts have additional cancer-fighting benefits.
Broccoli sprouts fight pollution
Studies performed in a highly polluted city in China suggest that broccoli sprouts help the body clear itself of chemical pollutants.
The study examined 300 Chinese adults with half the participants consuming a beverage that included broccoli sprouts, and half consuming a beverage that did not.
After three months, the people in the broccoli sprouts group excreted higher levels of harmful chemicals in their urine – especially benzene (61 percent increased excretion) and acrolein (23 percent higher excretion).1 The nutrients in broccoli bonded with these poisons and escorted them out of the body by way of urine waste.
It seems fair to assume that lowering levels of these carcinogens in the body equates to a lower cancer risk.
Of course, broccoli is just one example of seeds you can sprout.
Alfalfa, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, mung beans, peas, and sunflowers are also popular choices and contain a wealth of nutrients. In fact, all sprouts are superfoods and can help your health in a myriad of ways.
Why eat sprouts? Eight more great reasons
- Offers more enzymes. Sprouts boast an unusually high level of living enzymes. Somewhat like the enzymes your own body makes, these plant enzymes help break down your food, enhance food absorption, reduce gas and bloat, and boost your metabolic processes. We’ve frequently reported on the cancer-fighting benefits of enzymes.
- Boosts immune health. Sprouts are high in natural vitamin C, which stimulates white blood cell production and helps fight off infections and diseases. Other antioxidants also add to sprouts’ immune benefits. Vitamin C is a staple of many natural doctors’ cancer treatment protocols.
- Reduces acidic levels. Sprouts help alkalinize the body and maintain proper pH balance. Many illnesses, including cancer, are linked to high acid levels according to some alternative doctors.
- Provides more antioxidants. . .which help prevent premature aging via collagen production, prevent premature hair greying, slow DNA destruction, and stop excessive free radical production. These actions are important in protecting the body against cancer.
- Increases blood circulation. Sprouts increase the ability of blood vessels to repair themselves. As a result, sprouts increase blood flow and optimize oxygen transport to organs and cells. This protects the body against cancer and many other diseases.
- Enhances weight loss. Sprouts have very few calories, yet many nutrients. They also inhibit the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin that tells your brain to eat more.
- Have high levels of fiber. Which makes you feel full for longer, enhancing your weight loss efforts. Fiber also helps regulate digestion and some studies show it can help prevent colon cancer.
- Are affordable. Sprouts are particularly affordable when compared to buying organic leafy greens at the store, much less a cupboard full of supplements.
How to eat more sprouts
Trying to figure out how to include sprouts in your daily diet? It’s pretty easy.
Start by replacing your lettuce with nutrient rich sprouts.
Sprouts can be used in salads, sandwiches, on top of eggs or meat, stir fry (mung beans), smoothies, and more.
There are even recipes online that use sprouts in savory pancakes and low-sugar chocolate desserts. Dare to experiment!
You can buy your sprouts at the grocery store or you could also grow your own sprouts at home. Here’s how. . .
A major benefit of growing your own sprouts is that you have complete control over your end product and can ensure that the sprouts you’re eating are truly fresh.
What’s more, sprout gardens are perfect for tight spaces and are especially suitable for apartment dwellers. (Note: You are now out of excuses!)
Here’s how to get started growing your own sprout garden:
- Buy organic sprouting seeds.
- Grab an empty canning jar (preferably one-quart size) with a screw top lid. If you don’t have canning jars, any other similar sized glass jar with lid will do.
- Drill (or punch with a hammer and nail) some tiny holes in the lid so you can drain the water from it. Alternatively, use a piece of cheesecloth or a special sprouting lid.
- Soak one-third to one cup of beans in clean water for eight to 12 hours. Your water fill line should be significantly higher than the beans/seeds, as they’ll absorb water. This is the only soak in the process.
- After eight to 12 hours, drain off the water. (Use it for soup broth if you want. It’s full of nutrients.) Immediately rinse the sprouts well, then drain completely.
- Repeat step #4 every eight to 12 hours, morning and evening.
- Harvest on day two, three, or four, when the sprouts have short roots. Test a couple every day to find your preference for harvest time. There’s no hard and fast rule here.
- Refrigerate any sprouts you don’t consume right away for as long as four days. If they become slimy or discolored, toss them. It will be pretty obvious when they’re no longer appetizing.
You can also spring for sprouting equipment at places like www.sproutpeople.org but it’s not necessary.
Sprouts are listed on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website as a possible source of food-borne illness – along with meat, cheese, eggs, lettuce and spinach.
The CDC mentions five leafy green outbreaks that were large enough to provoke multi-state recalls between 2014 and 2018 – two linked to packaged salads, two to romaine lettuce, and one unspecified. For sprouts, they offer no specific details of any recall.2 If this is all they’ve got, I don’t think the CDC is justified in raising alarms about sprouts.
The publication Consumerist mentions one outbreak linked to sprouts in 2014. Following that, the FDA sampled seeds used for sprouting. They found that while 2.35 percent of seeds were contaminated with Salmonella, only .21 percent of finished sprouts had the pathogen.3
This seems like a very small risk of food-borne illness to me. What’s more, the nutritional upside of consuming sprouts certainly outweighs the danger.
That being said, if you’re buying sprouts ensure they’re fresh, as you would with any other produce. If you’re growing sprouts you can protect against food-borne illness by keeping your hands, jars, and kitchen clean. Remember to use clean, fresh water and avoid standing water in your sprouting container.
There’s another advantage of growing your own sprouts: Growing sprouts is not only easy and healthy, it can be fun and enjoyable!
People of all ages can watch the miracle of germination because in sprouting, it’s not hidden by the soil, as it is in a dirt-based garden. Sprouting happens behind clear glass, and occurs so fast you can almost watch it in real time.