Use of sprouts as food has a long history but only now science has begun to understand the chemistry of seed germination and the meaning of sprouts in the human and animal diet. Although dry seeds are characterized by remarkably low metabolic rate, their simple moisturizing can cause enormous and complex changes which are divided into three main types: the destruction of certain substances in seeds (i.e., disintegration of complex fats, conversion of starch into simple sugars, protein breakdown into amino acids), transportation of substances from one part of the seed to another, and synthesis of new materials that are formed from the decay products. The only substances that are commonly used by sprouting seeds are water and oxygen.
Sprouts are live food. Unlike fruits and vegetables that lose significant amounts of vitamins until the the moment they get to your table, sprouted grain continues to produce vitamins, even if you have already started to eat them. Therefore the sprouts are called “Superfood”.
Sprouts can boast higher nutritional value than any other food. Replacing cooked beans in a salad with sprouted beans, you get 5 times more protein, 6 times more vitamin C and 7 times more vitamins of group B.
Sprouts are known for their enzymes’ high activity that will never be surpassed in the later stages of maturity, it is the food that is the richest in enzymes on the planet. Breathing and growth of cells include the synthesis of complex substances from simple chemical compounds. By using substances called enzymes, cells are able to perform these functions without an increase in temperature and pressure. Enzymes are catalysts of living cells produced from combinations of organic substances, including vitamins. Surprisingly, the enzymes remain active even if separated from a living cell. Sprouts are products with the highest content of enzymes that you can find. Enzymes act as catalysts for chemical reactions in our body helping us digest essential nutrients in our food. Sprouted seeds, nuts or beans have 43 times more enzymes than the same seeds, nuts and beans but not sprouted.
Green sprouts are rich in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll cleanses our blood and removes toxins from our system. It has the ability to regenerate our bodies on the cellular and molecular level.
Within 24 hours after the swelling, the process of disintegration of starch into simple sugars starts. Then later storage proteins decompose to low molecular weight compounds (peptides and amino acids). On the third day fats begin to disintegrate to form fatty acids. These simpler compounds are used for building new tissues and the synthesis of numerous compounds that provide for the life of the young plant. Thus, in a sprouting seed we can observe some kind of an autolysis mechanism, a transformation of complex substances into simple ones.
Green sprouts also boast a high content of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect our DNA from damage and slow the aging process. Studying the properties of sprouted seeds, the researchers found a significant increase in antioxidant activity on days 2-5 of germination. During this period, a sprout synthesizes a huge amount of antioxidants-vitamins, including vitamins B, C, D and P. For example, in some bean plants the vitamin C level increases 600 times, whereas in wheat sprouts the vitamin E level increases several dozen times. Also the content of carotenoids and bioflavonoids increases significantly.
When seeds sprout, the content of vitamins, especially vitamin C, significantly increases (see table below). The total antioxidant capacity also increases (e.g. for wheat, from 24 mg/100 g to 275 mg/100 g). Also, numerous studies proved that sprouts, compared to dry seeds, contain significantly more riboflavin, nicotinic and folic acid, pyridoxine, thiamine.
Vitamin C in dry and sprouting seeds (mg / 100 g):
The content of macronutrients before and after sprouting of seeds:
Proteins and fats in seeds are located mainly in the germ. The majority of carbohydrates are in the endosperm and represented by starch. During the sprouting the protein content somewhat increases and fat and carbohydrates content often decreases (see table below). The amount of fiber increases during sprouting (for example, for wheat, from 3.3% to 4.5%).
Here are the reasons why sprouting is useful to us:
Phytic acid is one of the main anti-nutrients contained in cereals, beans, seeds and nuts. Phytic acid binds minerals contained in food and removes them from our body not allowing them to be absorbed. Deficiency of magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron, problems with bone tissue and osteoporosis are associated with the use of large amounts of foods rich in this acid. Sprouting deactivates this anti-nutrient, and this allows us to reduce the loss of minerals by our body.
Inhibitors of digestive enzymes: these substances are able to deactivate our own digestive ferments or enzymes that we need for normal digestion of food. Sprouting deactivates inhibitors of digestive enzymes and, moreover, activates a special enzyme called phytase which breaks down phytic acid and allows our body to better digest grains.
Lectins are another protection mechanism in cereals. They are accused in that they cause the syndrome of increased intestinal permeability, allergic and autoimmune diseases. Sprouting takes out the lectins from grains.
Increases the amount of vitamins. It’s hard to believe but sprouting increases the amount of vitamins in cereals. This particularly applies to groups of vitamins C, E and B.