Many people associate sprouts with those stringy, wormy-looking mung bean sprouts in stir-fry dishes. Otherwise, you might think of the bitter alfalfa sprouts used to fill sandwiches. Did you know that sprouting extends to a wide variety of grains, beans, and nuts, and sprouting these food items can tremendously increase nutrition and digestibility? While fairly recent salmonella and E. coli outbreaks have deterred people from eating sprouts, with proper hygienic conditions, you can reap the benefits of sprouts by easily growing them in your own home or buy cooked products with sprouted ingredients.
Sprouting grains, beans, and nuts neutralizes the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid, which make digestion and nutrient absorption a difficult process for your body. However, with moist and warm conditions, these hard-shelled seeds, grains, and beans begin to soften, open up, and become phytonutrient-rich. As a result, the sprouting stage of growth makes these foods easily digestible, lower on the glycemic index, and nutrient-packed, having increased levels of vitamins and antioxidants. In addition, sprouted grains and legumes require shorter cooking times, because the tough exterior shell has already broken down during the soaking process.