Growing Edible Sprouts/Nutrition
Sprouts are often classified as herbs rather than vegetables in grocery stores in the United States, the assumption being that sprouts are used to provide flavor or texture to food, rather than being a significant part of a person's diet. Not all sprout varieties have been analyzed for nutritional content.
Two types of sprouts, mung bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts, are analyzed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for content of certain nutrients. The USDA analyzes food by weight and volume for specific nutrients considered essential to good health at certain levels. As is true with most edible plants, alfalfa sprouts and mung bean sprouts contain protein, carbohydrates, lipids (fats), minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients.
Alfalfa sprouts weigh 33 grams (1.2 oz) per cup volume, and mung bean sprouts weigh 104 grams (3.7 oz) per cup volume. (Keep in mind that a cup volume is not the same as a liquid measure of one cup, which is 8 fluid ounces.)
Mung bean sprouts, by weight and volume, have most nutrient values exceeding raw spinach, a vegetable high in most plant-based nutrients analyzed by the USDA. Alfalfa sprouts have four times the protein of iceberg lettuce by weight, but only twice its protein by volume. Lettuce has less vitamin C and more vitamin A than alfalfa sprouts.
"Seeds that sprout in distilled water contain more potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and sulphur than before the seeds begin to sprout."
Nutritional Content of Alfalfa Sprouts
Comparing the nutrients in a cup of alfalfa sprouts to the nutrients in the same volume of lettuce or spinach will give you some idea how young leafy sprout nutrients compare to those in the mature leaves of commonly consumed plants.
Alfalfa sprouts are higher in protein and lipids than lettuce and spinach greens, but alfalfa sprouts contain very little sugar. Alfalfa sprouts are a good source of phosphorus and zinc, but they are not an especially good source of calcium or iron. Alfalfa sprouts are not a good source of vitamins A, E or K, but the lipids in alfalfa sprouts are predominantly polyunsaturated. Alfalfa sprouts are not a good source of beta carotene.
|Alfalfa Sprouts||Lettuce (Iceberg)||Spinach|
|UOM||33 gm||72 gm||30 gm|
|Total lipid (fat)||gm||0.23||0.1||0.12|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||gm||0.69||2.14||1.09|
|Fiber, total dietary||gm||0.6||0.9||0.7|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||2.7||2||8.4|
|Vitamin A (IU)||IU||51||361||2813|
|Vitamin A (RAE)||mcg_RAE||3||18||141|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||0.01||0.13||0.61|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||mcg||10.1||17.4||144.9|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||gm||0.023||0.013||0.019|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||gm||0.018||0.004||0.003|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||gm||0.135||0.053||0.05|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||mcg||0||199||3659|
Toxins in Sprouts
Some legumes can contain toxins, which can be reduced by soaking, sprouting and cooking (e.g., stir frying). Joy Larkcom advises that to be on the safe side “one shouldn’t eat large quantities of raw legume sprouts on a regular basis, no more than about 550g (20oz) daily”.
Buckwheat greens contain fagopyrin, a naturally occurring substance in the buckwheat plant. When ingested in sufficient quantity, fagopyrin is known to cause the skin of animals and people to become phototoxic, which is to say hypersensitive to sunlight, particularly if juiced or eaten in large quantities.
- http://www.falunau.org/insightsArticle.jsp?itemID=927 Note: It would be best to reference the original research that concluded this.
- Larkcom, Joy Salads For Small Gardens, p.98 Hamlyn 1995 ISBN 0-600-58509-3
- Arbour, Gilles essay http://www.gillesarbour.com/buckwheat_assets/Buckwheat%20Greens.pdf
- Arbour, Gilles (December 2004). "Are buckwheat greens toxic?". Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. Find Articles. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0ISW/is_257/ai_n7638045. Retrieved 2007-02-04.