Sprouting is the process whereby seeds are germinated so that they may be cooked or eaten in raw form. Sprouting is a very common practice in Eastern Asian cuisine as well as in Indian sub-continent. Sprouts can be produced at home as well as industrially.
Sprouting involves soaking grains, seeds, nuts, or legumes so that they start germinating and start producing pod-like protrusions.
Sprouting provides a number if health and nutritional benefits.
Anti-nutrient Lectins and how Sprouting Helps
Anti-nutrients make nutrients less effective.
Lectins are a category of proteins that easily bind to cell membranes, given their sticky and glue-like nature. They are abundant in plants, especially in raw legumes, grains, tomato, potato, eggplant and pepper. They are also present in specific vegetables as well as in milk products. In the plant world, lectins help the plant against fungus and insects attacks.
However in humans, lectins attach to healthy intestinal cells and cause inflammation. Also known as gut permeability, this is the root cause of many ailments.
Lectins being highly durable remain unaffected by high temperatures and by bodily enzymes and digestive juices.
Sprouting is the one of best ways to remove the toxic effect of lectins. Soaking and cooking is another method to mitigate the toxicity of lectins.
Sprouting also helps in the reduction of other anti-nutrients like phytates, polyphenols like tannin, oxalate which decreases calcium absorption and enzyme inhibitors like trypsin.
Nutritional Benefits of Sprouting
- Sprouts contain digestive enzyme and are high on certain antioxidants. Antioxidants such as sulphoraphanes reduce insulin resistance and in people with Type-2 diabetes assist in blood-sugar control.
- Sprouts contain high levels of dietary fiber, vitamin B Complex, digestive enzymes and proteins.
- Sprouting increases the bioavailability of calcium, zinc and iron.
- Sprouting prevents the ill-effects of enzyme inhibitors and the sugars producing intestinal gas.
- Sprouting neutralizes carcinogens found in grains.
Use of Sprouting in Malting Process
Sprouting is also applied on a large scale to barley as a part of the malting process.
Malt is the basic ingredient used to make beer. Malt is barley that has been sprouted such that enzymes produced convert its starchy to sugar.
Making malt needs barley and water only. A three-step process, steeping, germinating and drying, can transform it to beer.
The grains germinated by soaking in water, and are then prevented from germinating further by using hot air.