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Should You Sprout Your Food?

What to know about sprouting grains, nuts, and legumes.
By Tammy Worth
WebMD Feature

Sprouts are making a comeback, and not just at the salad bar.

They're packed with nutrients and are easy to digest. Some people are getting in on the trend, sprouting their grains, nuts, and beans.

Should you join in? Find out what's involved.

What Is Sprouting?

Seeds sprout after a few days in a warm, moist setting. It usually takes 3 to 7 days, depending upon the conditions and kind of seeds being used.

You've probably heard of bean sprouts. But many foods can be sprouted, including:

  • Grains, such as barley, wheat, and spelt
  • Legumes, such as lentils, peas, and pinto, kidney, and lima beans
  • Radish and broccoli seeds

Some people also sprout nuts, including almonds, cashews, walnuts, and peanuts.

Sprouting Chemistry

The sprouting process may make it easier for a body to absorb nutrients including iron, zinc, and vitamin C, says dietitian Reem Jabr, a registered dietitian in the Boston area.

Another possible perk: Broccoli sprouts might help prevent cancer. They have more natural chemicals called glucosinolates than regular broccoli. Glucosinolates have shown promise against bladder cancer in lab tests on animals. It's not yet clear if the same is true for people, but "there is a lot of interest" in that, says Steve Schwartz, PhD, an Ohio State University food science professor, who has studied broccoli sprouts.

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