By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai
Sprouts truly are the best locally-grown food, yet not enough people eat or grow them. Sprouts are becoming increasingly known for their nutrition powerhouse. With highly concentrated nutritional benefits compared to eating mature vegetables, sprouts can be easily added to your table, by adding them to salads, soups, sandwiches, stir-fries, sauteed vegetables, pastas and smoothies. Sprouts are low in calories and rich in fiber, enzymes, protein, and other micro-nutrients. Not many people eat them although they can easily be bought or grown at home without requiring advanced gardening skills.
What are sprouts? 
Sprouts are seeds that have germinated and become very young plants. This germination process usually begins with the seeds being soaked for several hours.
The soaked seeds are then exposed to the right combination of temperature and moisture, and allowed to grow for two to seven days.
The end product is generally a sprout measuring 1/8–2 inches (2–5 cm) long.
Many different types of seeds can be sprouted. Here is a list of the most common types of sprouts available on the market:
- Bean and pea sprouts: Such as lentil, soybean, mung bean, black bean, kidney bean, green pea and snow pea sprouts.
- Sprouted grains: Such as brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth, kamut, quinoa and oat sprouts.
- Vegetable or leafy sprouts: Such as radish, broccoli, beet, mustard green, clover, cress and fenugreek sprouts.
- Nut and seed sprouts: Such as almond, radish seed, alfalfa seed, pumpkin seed, sesame seed or sunflower seed sprouts.
Considering there many health and environmental benefits, it’s time to consider adding sprouts to your diet. There are tremendous health benefits from including sprouts in your diet:  
- Sprouts are easy and cheap to grow and, as locally grown vegetables, offer additional environmental benefits by avoiding pesticides, food additives and pollution from transportation.
- They offer a powerful source of vitamins, minerals antioxidants, enzymes that fight free radicals as sprouting can increase their potency by 20 times or more.
- Vitamin, such as A, B, C and E, and essential fatty acid nutrients increase in sprouting and minerals bind to protein, making them more easily absorbed.
- Sprouted seeds, grains, legumes or nuts help support cell regeneration.
- Due to their richness in dietary fiber and low calorie content, sprouts offer a substantial help in your weight loss goals.
- When you sprout seeds, the fiber content in them increases. Sprouting help in increasing the amount of insoluble fiber, which helps form stool and move it through the gut. Thus it helps prevent constipation. Eat fiber-rich sprouts to keep your digestive system in good health.
- Soaking and sprouting substantially increases the fiber content in sprouts which facilitates weight loss as the fiber binds to fat and toxins to remove them from the body.
- Sprouts are a good source of plant-based protein. You need protein for building muscles, for strong and healthy bones, and to repair your organs. Eating sprouts can help you meet your protein requirements. Include sprouts in your diet to boost your metabolism and increase your energy levels.
- Iron deficiency is a common problem and it can lead to anemia. If you are anemic, you may experience the common symptoms of anemia like nausea, dizziness, stomach issues, and more. To combat this, you can include sprouts in your diet. Furthermore, you can prevent it by adding a handful of sprouts in your daily diet. You won’t have to worry about your iron requirements.
- Sprouts can strengthen your immune system by supplying you with some amounts of Vitamin A and C. The Vitamin A content in sprouts grows up to by ten-fold when you let the sprouts germinate or develop for over a week from their initial form. High amounts of Vitamin A equals increased production of white blood cells in your body. This means you’ll be less likely to suffer from infections, common colds, flu, and more.
- Sprouts have anti-ageing properties and are very good for your skin. If you want youthful and glowing skin, sprouts are your go-to food. This is because of their huge amounts of B-complex vitamins which aid cellular regeneration and skin repair. These nutrients can help unclog your pores, prevent wrinkles, and boost collagen production which keeps the skin glowing.
- Sprouts contain selenium which improves sperm quality and its motility. Sprouts also boost blood circulation which helps prevent erectile dysfunction.
- Sprouts are a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids which regulate cholesterol levels in your body. Sprouts improve heart health by lowering bad cholesterol levels and increasing good cholesterol levels.
- One of the benefits of eating sprouts is that they stimulate sebum production in the scalp and protect your hair follicles. Eating sprouts can also prevent thinning and premature graying of hair.
How To Make Sprouts At Home? 
Sprouts only take a few days to, well, sprout. You will need the following:
Half gallon size Mason jar, a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band, a bowl to help the jar stand upside down, at a right angle, sprouting seeds.
What You Need To Do
- Wash your hands thoroughly. Also, ensure all the equipment is clean and sterile.
- Pour the seeds into the jar. Depending on the seed size, you can take a teaspoon or ¼ cup.
- Cover the seeds with a cup of filtered water and put the cheesecloth over the jar.
- Allow the seeds to soak overnight.
- Strain the water in the morning using a fine strainer.
- Rinse the seeds with filtered water and drain again.
- Place the jar in the bowl at a slight angle (the bottom of the jar should be on a higher level). This drains off the excess water.
- Keep rinsing the sprouts several times a day using filtered water. Once done, keep returning the jar to the tilted position.
- Most sprouts must harvest within 2 to 7 days.
- Once they sprout, rinse them with cool, filtered water and store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Some Tips to Keep in Mind Before You Consume Sprouts 
Here are a couple of tips you should keep in buy when you choose sprouts from a vegetable shop or when you eat them.
- Eat raw sprouts. Don’t cook them as cooking will destroy the nutrients in them.
- Wash the sprouts well before eating them.
- You can steam the sprouts as steaming will retain the nutrients. However, don’t fry or roast them.
- Sprouts are one of those foods that go best with salads and appetizers. You can even buy sprouted grain flours to use in cakes, sandwiches, and much more. When you add millet to sprouts flour, you can even make your own fresh bread.
- You can even saute Brussels sprouts using butter.
- If you’re planning to steam them, you can use a vegetable steamer or just lightly steam using an inch of boiling water in a cup. The best way to steam is to steam for two minutes, uncover the lid to get rid of the smell and finish by covering the pots and simmering for 15 minutes until they turn tender.
Sprouts are simple yet powerful foods. Making them at home requires a little patience – but the benefits are worth it. Just be wary of the bacterial growth. With the right measures, you can enjoy the benefits of sprouts without having to face the ill effects of food poisoning.