Bean Sprouts: Health Benefits, Nutrition Facts, and How to Prepare Them

Bean sprouts are a crunchy, satisfying ingredient used in everything from salads to noodle soups. They are low in calories and have a light, fresh flavor. Although many different varieties of beans can be used to grow bean sprouts, the most commonly consumed varieties come from mung beans (Vigna radiata) and soybeans.

You can buy bean sprouts in most grocery stores or grow them yourself. They grow easily from seed, as long as you have a closed container and a safe place to keep them away from light. With nightly watering, they should start to grow after two or three days.

Whether you buy or grow them, bean sprouts pack a nutritional punch.

Health Benefits

Bean sprouts are healthy in a lot of ways, from the high concentrations of vitamin C to the proteins and fibers that help give them their distinctive crunch. Here are some of the benefits you can get by adding bean sprouts to your diet.

Blood pressure support

Bean sprouts may help prevent and treat high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, thanks to protein building blocks called peptides. Peptides are produced in high concentrations when seeds sprout. They’ve been shown to reduce blood pressure in some studies.

Cancer prevention

The proteins and peptides in bean sprouts may also help reduce the risk of cancer. Studies have shown that these nutrients can slow the growth of cancer cells, including those associated with breast cancer, leukemia, and digestive system cancers.

Digestive wellness

Bean sprouts are a source of insoluble dietary fiber, which aids digestion. It moves quickly through the digestive system, picking up and carrying waste products along as it goes. Fiber helps to  “clean out” the colon. It works almost like an internal scrub brush. Having enough insoluble fiber in your diet is important for preventing constipation.

Eye health

Because bean sprouts have high levels of antioxidants, they may help protect you from developing common eye conditions, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in adults over age 55. Antioxidants may help reduce your risk of developing AMD.

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Bean sprouts are also high in vitamin C, which may help prevent cataracts. Studies show that people who consume high levels of vitamin C for 10 years or more have a reduced risk of needing cataract surgery.

Heart health

Bean sprouts may help to improve your overall heart health by balancing cholesterol. Studies show that sprouts may help reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, which causes the buildup of artery-clogging plaque. Bean sprouts may also increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, which helps clear fatty deposits from the blood.

Evidence also suggests that sprouts can lower another blood fat known as triglycerides. Triglycerides can cause heart disease if they build up in high enough concentrations.

Nutrients per Serving

One cup of mung bean sprouts contains the following nutrients:

Bean sprouts are an excellent source of antioxidants, which protect against cell damage and may reduce the risk cancer and heart disease. Specific vitamins and minerals in bean sprouts include:

Bean sprouts contain a lot of v itamin C, giving you 23% of the recommended daily dose. They also provide you with calcium, which is important for healthy bones and teeth. They also contain a lot of iron, a component of healthy blood.

How to Prepare Bean Sprouts

You can eat bean sprouts raw or cook them. Cooked sprouts go well in stir-fry dishes, or sautéed with noodles and vegetables like zucchini, carrots, and bell peppers. You’re likely to find bean sprouts at your favorite Asian restaurant as an ingredient in spring rolls or meat-and-vegetable dishes.

You can also keep things simple and sprinkle bean sprouts onto your salad at home. Bean Sprouts can spoil easily, so make sure to store them in the refrigerator for peak freshness.

When buying bean sprouts, look for ones that are white and shiny with yellow tips. Avoid any bean sprouts that smell musty or have a slimy feel to them. When in doubt, you can test the freshness of a bean sprout by snapping it in two. A fresh bean sprout should break with a clean snapping sound. 

Here are a few more ways you can add bean sprouts to your diet:

  • Sprinkle bean sprouts on salads.
  • Add bean sprouts to your favorite sandwich for extra crunch.
  • Stir-fry bean sprouts with noodles, tofu, or meat, and your choice of vegetables.
  • Make or order Asian spring rolls with bean sprouts.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on August 24, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Are Sprouts Safe to Eat?”

American Optometric Association: “Antioxidants & Age-Related Eye Disease.”

Biofactors: “Phase 1 study of multiple biomarkers for metabolism and oxidative stress after one-week intake of broccoli sprouts.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon. 

Foundation Louis Bonduelle: “Bean Sprouts.” 

Health Promotion Perspectives: “Lentil Sprouts Effect on Serum Lipids of Overweight and Obese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.”

Nutrients: “Mung Bean (Vigna radiata L.): Bioactive Polyphenols, Polysaccharides, Peptides, and Health Benefits.”  

University of California San Francisco Health: "Constipation."

Plant Foods for Human Nutrition: “Compositional and digestibility changes in sprouted barley and canola seeds.”

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