Bean sprouts are increasingly becoming a mainstream food item. Gone are the days when they would only be found in gourmet sandwich shops. Today, you can easily find these seemingly delicate tangles of pale threads in the produce section of supermarkets.
What exactly are bean sprouts? They are the very young and tender shoots of beans that have been germinated. They have a sweet taste and a crunchy texture, which is why they are a welcome addition to a variety of dishes. However, one of the main reasons why more and more people have been eating bean sprouts is because of their nutritional value. Below are some facts why you should also make bean sprouts a regular feature in your meals.
- Eating bean sprouts is one way of getting the most concentrated nutrients from a plant. Sprouts provide the body with the type of enzymes that make carbohydrates and proteins more digestible, maximizing the absorption of nutrients found in food.
- The bean sprout has been described as a powerhouse of nutrients. This is not surprising, considering its long nutrient list that includes: the Vitamin B-complex vitamins as well as Vitamins, A, C and K; omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids; amino acids; and the minerals iron, copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus
- Bean sprouts are found in many East Asian dishes. They are a common ingredient in stir fries, spring rolls and soups, or combined with rice or noodles.
- The most common sprouted beans are the mung bean and the soy bean. Other types of legumes that can be sprouted are alfalfa, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, white beans and adzuki beans.
- The Chinese have known the benefits of bean sprouts for centuries. Nobles in ancient China ate them for rejuvenation and healing. Beans were also brought along on long sea voyages, where they were sprouted and eaten while at sea, to prevent scurvy.
- During World War II, when meat was in very short supply, scientists recommended that consumption of bean sprouts was one of the best ways to have adequate protein in the diet.
- Sprouts can be consumed raw but one primary concern in eating uncooked bean sprouts is the risk of food-borne diseases. One way to ensure that you are getting safe, organic, pesticide-free bean sprouts is to grow them yourself. You do not need to have a green thumb or a large garden in order to grow bean sprouts. The beans can be germinated in glass jars and are ready to eat within 3 to 4 days.