In order to try and maintain optimum health, a healthy diet is essential. This means that meals are a diverse mix of vitamins and nutrients.
Doctors and nutritionists recommend a daily amount of vitamins and nutrients for the best results and so when organizing meals, the amounts and types of the different recommended ingredients in each individual food item should be taken into consideration.
Although many foods have very little nutritional value, there are a wide and diverse number of foods that are nutritious.
Superfoods are foods which have a high density of nutritious value and whilst they are mainly plant based foods, some fish and dairy products are also often classified as a superfood.
Perhaps the most commonly known superfoods are berries and nuts, leafy or cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli, plus of course certain fish types.
Although no one superfood can provide you with all your nutrition needs, they will certainly help you achieve your recommended daily quota. Perhaps less well known, to those that do know them, is the fact that Broccoli Sprouts are often referred to as a superfood.
Although Broccoli, as a part of the cabbage-mustard family, a cruciferous vegetable, is classified as a superfood because it is jam-packed with vitamins A, C and K, minerals, calcium, and fiber, broccoli sprouts are even more nutritious than the full-grown broccoli leaves.
What Nutrients do Broccoli Sprouts Have?
Although broccoli sprouts may not provide as much vitamin A and K as the fully grown broccoli, they more than make up for that loss in other ways, as can be seen in this example of a typical 115g/4oz serving with a total of only 25 calories:
- 54 milligrams vitamin C (60% DV)
- 90 micrograms vitamin A (10% DV)
- 5 grams carbohydrates
- 2 grams of protein
- 78 milligrams calcium (6% DV)
- 720 micrograms iron (4% DV)
- 0.5 gram
- 4 grams of fiber
Basic Scientific Explanation of Broccoli Sprouts
Sprouts are young plants and so have the additional nutrients to help the plant grow and perhaps more importantly, to flower. Sprouts are generally skinny as they are just one step up from seeds and that is why they are still laden with beneficial nutrients. In order to sprout from the seed they need a warm, moist atmosphere and whilst this atmosphere is beneficial to sprout growth, it also provides conditions for bacteria to thrive.
How do Broccoli Sprouts Work?
The nutrients from sprouts are released when they are disturbed and this can be by boiling or by the action of chewing. For this reason the sprouts provide more nutrition if eaten raw.
Although slightly tangy, broccoli sprouts are otherwise rather bland in taste however they do provide a nutritious crunch to any sandwich or salad. If the sprouts are to be eaten raw, they should be well washed as their environment for good growth is also ideal for bacteria.
Sulforaphane is a name given to a group of phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables including broccoli and broccoli sprouts. It is sulforaphane which lends many nutritional experts to rank sprouts higher as a superfood than fruits, as it is the sprouts which provide a higher abundance than their fully grown plant.
Benefits of Sulforaphane
Sulforaphane is known to be a source for the nootropic drug which is proven to have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. This means that the drug can improve cognitive abilities such as motivation, creativity and memory.
Sulforaphane and Cancer
Although no human studies have yet been completed, test tube and animal research have shown that sulforaphane may help in the fight against cancer.
It is believed that more thorough studies will show that sulforaphane will help protect from several types of cancer, such as breast, lung, prostate and skin cancers if 3-5 servings of foods producing them, such as cruciferous vegetables, are eaten each week.
How Sulforaphane Is Produced
Cruciferous plants, like broccoli and broccoli sprouts, contain glucoraphanin which, when broken down, produces sulforaphane but unfortunately the glucoraphanin diminishes with heat and very little is found in any fruits as, due to their nature, require heat to grow.
As boiling as well as chewing will break down the glucoraphanin to sulforaphane, their nutritional advantages are lost if heavily boiled. It is for this reason that eating broccoli sprouts raw will provide the best nutrition.
Side Effects of Eating Broccoli Sprouts
As with most good things, there are potential side effects from eating broccoli sprouts.
As the ideal growing environment for sprouts is also ideal for bacteria, some stomach upsets have been experienced from eating them raw. Broccoli sprouts will of course provide the most nutrition when eaten raw, however, due to the potential side effects, many people recommend lightly steaming them before eating. Gently steaming the sprouts will ensure bacteria are killed whilst losing a minimum of their nutritional benefits.
How to Get Broccoli Sprouts
It is perhaps rare to get broccoli sprouts from your local grocer but this is mainly because people prefer to grow their own at home.
A sprout grower kit is probably the easiest way to start growing them yourself and these kits are readily available from Todd’s Seeds
If you do decide to grow your own sprouts, and Todd’s Seeds have many options, broccoli sprouts are perhaps the most beneficial because of their glucoraphanin as well as other nutrients.
Whilst eating healthy is certainly worthwhile, some people struggle to find diversity in their meals whilst keeping them healthy. Although vegetables may often be included in meals broccoli sprouts are all too often overlooked as a healthy way to add a tangy and crunchy taste to your well-balanced diet.
Whilst finding healthy alternatives for meals can sometimes be a challenge, Todd’s Seeds try to make life easier by not just supplying the means but also providing growing instructions all on a single website. This will assist you in providing well-balanced and healthy meal plans for both you and your family.
You can also watch the video version of this article and if you like what you see head on over to YouTube and subscribe to our channel for more gardening and sprouting videos: Todd’s Seeds Youtube Channel