A new trend showing up in the cereal, bread, pasta, and snack aisles is products made with sprouts. Most people have heard of bean sprouts, but other foods that can be sprouted include grains, legumes, radish seeds, broccoli seeds, and nuts.
The health benefits touted include being higher in vitamins such as B and C and minerals such as zinc and iron, as well as increased digestibility. Currently there is little research on sprouted foods, and the results of these studies show the benefits to be small compared to nonsprouted foods. The few studies that have been done show that vitamin C is slightly higher in sprouted grains, and iron and zinc may be more easily absorbed. In regard to digestibility, sprouting does break down the seed, which means less work for your digestive system.
If you are considering adding raw sprouts to your diet, first look at food safety. To reduce the risk of a foodborne illness, the Food and Drug Administration recommends the following:
• Children, elderly, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts.
• Refrigerate any sprouts you buy.
• Cook sprouts thoroughly to kill any potentially harmful bacteria.