Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Got Sprouts?

Hey All,

One of the funnest, healthy foods I adopted into my diet is sprouts. You have seen those alfalfa sprouts at the grocery store, but how many times have you just pass them by? Too many, I’m sure. I’m even guilty of it. Yet, during my research into raw foods, I discovered that I was missing out on some big time health benefits. Sprouts are nutrient powerhouses and a great, cheap way to add some healthy food into your diet.

So, what is the difference between eating a piece of cooked broccoli, and eating broccoli sprouts? The difference is enzymes. A piece of broccoli that has been cooked above 115 degrees has denatured some/most of its enzymes. This results in more work for the body as it needs to use its own enzymes to break down proteins, carbs, and fats. The process of sprouting, according to Brigette Mars’s book Rawsome, brings to life the plant hormones in the seed called phytosterols. These hormones cause an increase in metabolic activity whereby complex nutrients such as, proteins, carbs, and fats are broken down into their simpler counterparts: amino acids, simple sugars, and free amino acids. Sprouts are obviously very rich in enzymes and can help your depleted enzyme reserves get back to positive levels. Another cool fact that Brigitte mentions is that seeds (and nuts) contain enzyme inhibitors. One such inhibitor called phytic acid prevents calcium, iron, and zinc from being absorbed into the cells. If you sprout seeds the enzyme inhibitors are destroyed. Other abundant compounds are chlorophyll, and vitamins C, B-complex, and E.

Society today is eating so much processed foods that the body is constantly being depleted of enzymes. As most processed foods are chemically made or heated to such high temperatures, there is nothing “living” in these foods that can help to digest it. Therefore, the body needs to produce digestive enzyme, also known as endogenous enzymes, to break these foods into their simpler components. If this sort of diet continues, the body may become so depleted that it can no longer produce specific enzymes (I’ll go into greater depth in a later post). This depletion can result in numerous conditions such as, allergies, skin problems, diabetes, cancer, weight gain, and lethargy.

An article on Natural News mentioned a new study that looked at efficacy of using broccoli sprouts to help reduce the colonization of H-pylori, which is linked with stomach cancer. This immediately caught my attention as my mom nearly died from a very aggressive colonization of H-pylori a few years ago. They discovered that a compound in the broccoli sprouts called Sulforaphane helps to activate cells in the body to produce enzymes that protect against free radicals and inflammation. Although the sprouts did not completely rid the body of the bacterium, it helped to reduce its spread. Isn’t that just awesome? I told you these things pack a punch!

The all popular alfalfa sprouts are loaded with saponins. The sprouted seed has over 450% greater saponin content compared to the unsprouted seed. Now that’s a great rate of production! These little guys reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) but they leave the good cholesterol (HDL) to work its magic. Saponins also play a role in the immune system function. They wake up the immune system by increasing the activity of killer cells (T-lymphocytes).

There are so many types of sprouts to try, pick a few a give it a shot. My favorites are alfalfa, mung beans, peas, buckwheat, lentils, and sunflower seeds. On my list to try are broccoli, red clover, radish, and almonds. You can buy sprouting equipment such as bags, lids, and automatic sprouting machines, but I just use some mason jars which you cover with some mesh material or cheesecloth and then place an elastic around the mouth. I sometimes don’t even do this, using only my hands to prevent seeds from escaping. A quick and easy guide to sprouting can be found here. It’s so simple and takes only seconds a day. The kids will love it too as they can watch the seeds germinate and grow.

Have fun with some sprouts this year, your body will thank you!

Just a little side note! I needed something to relax after my memory stick decided to not work on my best camera and now over 200 pictures have disappeared like Houdini himself. So, who else to the rescue but Nemo the cat, whose hide-and-seek places need a little work but are always amusing. Thanks Nemo for brightening my day!

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