Sprouts are budding plants that are big on nutrition. They are the cheapest and most convenient source of complete nourishment. These germinating plants play important roles in promoting good health, encouraging healthy eating habits and are popular if you are into weight reduction. They are known as super foods as they are essentially pre-digested foods. Sprouts are high in highly digestible nutrients, vitamins and minerals that they can be considered true multi-ingredient natural supplements.
The nutrients, being in a pre-digested form, are easily absorbed into the bloodstream, giving the digestive system a rest. Eaten regularly, raw or cooked, sprouts reduce high blood pressure, help in weight loss, lower cardiovascular risks and help fight against diabetes and liver problems. They are best when eaten fresh.
Health Benefits: Alfalfa is called the ‘father of all foods’ or the ‘king of sprouts.’ Its sprouts, and to a lesser degree, the leaves, are an excellent source of proteins for vegetarians and rich in antioxidants. Possessing minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins such as A, B complex, C, E and K, alfalfa is anti-hemorrhagic, anti-anaemic, aids digestion, helps in reduction of cholesterol, is highly recommended in cases of rickets, osteoporosis because of its beneficial effect on bone metabolism and acts as a general tonic for the body. In Ayurvedic medicine, alfalfa is used as a cure for poor digestion, as a diuretic and to relieve the symptoms of arthritis. Alfalfa, or rajka in Hindi, plants are fed to cattle as hay or forage, known as chara in Hindi.
Preparation: Sprouting the tiny alfalfa seeds at home is easy. The seeds, available at organic seed stores, sprout in 3 days in the summers and 5 days in the winters. The sprouts, kept in an airtight box in the fridge, are good for 4-5 days.
Sterilise a jar, pick alfalfa seeds for foreign particles. Put 1/4 cup alfalfa seeds in the jar. Rinse seeds a few times. After throwing away the water, fill half the jar with water. Cover jar and let seeds soak in water overnight. Next day, tightly cover the top of the jar with a muslin cloth and drain the water from the jar. Rinse seeds a few times with clean water. Rinsing helps remove toxic substances or harmful microorganisms that might grow in the jar. Keep jar inverted to expel leftover water. The seeds will mould if any water remains.
On day two, tiny white sprouts will appear. Rinse again and drain water completely. Rinsing ensures that the seeds retain moisture otherwise they will dry up. On day three, the green leaves appear. Rinse and refrigerate.
Usage: Add the sprouts to salads, sandwiches, vegetables or dal dishes. Consult your doctor before following a regular course of having alfalfa on a daily basis.
Moong Bean Sprouts
Health Benefits: Moong bean sprouts are rich in iron and high in Vitamin C, both of which help in prevention/treatment of anaemia. An excellent source of lecithin aids in liver fat reduction. Regular consumption can help reduce blood levels of LDL cholesterol, beneficial to the heart and vessels since it helps prevent the development of atherosclerosis, a common cause of cardiovascular disease.
The sprouts contain high amounts of proteins, vitamins and zinc and are helpful in preventing/treating hair and nail problems. Sprouts can help prevent many age-related skin changes, including elasticity and moisture loss. It is a source of readily available energy and other nutrients helpful in fighting signs and symptoms of stress and tiredness.
Preparation: Take a cupful of green grammes (sabut moong ki dal), easily available at your local grocery. Pick, clean and wash in water 3-4 times. Place green grammes in a bowl, add water and cover up to 1 inch above the dal. Cover the bowl with a lid and leave the dal to soak overnight. By the next day, the dal will swell. Discard any water remaining in the bowl. Cover and keep the bowl for 2 days, checking each day. After 2 days, the white sprouts will appear from the green dal.
Usage: The sprouts can be eaten raw, lightly sautéd, blanched or steamed. Overcooking will reduce their properties. Raw or cooked, bean sprouts can be used in appetisers, salads, side dishes and snacks. A few drops of lemon juice can be squeezed over a cupful of sprouts added to their flavour.
Health Benefits: The fresh juice of wheatgrass has a high concentration of vitamins B complex, C and E, minerals like magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, as well as protein, chlorophyll, 17 forms of amino acids and antioxidants. In its sprouted form, a large portion of starch is converted to simple sugars, making it a wholesome food. It takes only a few minutes to digest wheatgrass juice using very little of the body’s energy.
It has “live enzymes” with each enzyme performing a specific function within the body in conjunction with other enzymes and they control all the bodily functions. Enzymes also have a deterrent ability against cancerous cells.
Wheatgrass therapy, a home remedy, is known to help even severe and chronic cases of constipation.
Preparation: Grow your own wheatgrass in earthen pots. Sow wheat grains in seven or eight pots. Sowing one pot of wheat grains every day for 7-8 days gives a harvest, when the wheat grass is 7-8 days old, provides enough grass for a week-long therapy session. Only the leaves of the wheatgrass are to be used to extract the juice.
Usage: The daily dosage of the wheatgrass juice ranges from 20-50 ml. Have wheat grass juice on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
Health benefits: Tulsi or basil has been used for thousands of years in Ayurveda for its diverse healing properties. The tulsi plant has many medicinal properties. The leaves strengthen the stomach and help in respiratory diseases. It has a strengthening effect on the kidney. In the case of stone, regularly taking a mixture of basil leaves juice and honey for 6 months helps expel the stones via the urinary tract.
Stress: Basil leaves are regarded as anti-stress agents. Recent studies have shown that the leaves afford significant protection against stress. Even healthy persons can chew 12 leaves of basil, twice a day, to prevent stress. It purifies blood and helps prevent several common elements.
Headaches: Basil makes a good medicine for headaches.
Aids in digestion: It works as an appetiser and promotes digestion by helping in the secretion of digestive enzymes.
For curing diabetes: Keep tulsi root powder in water overnight and take it early morning. The medicinal property of the plant helps maintain insulin level in the body and is a natural cure for diabetes.
Tulsi is considered as a tonic to retain youth and avoid ageing.
- reduces total cholesterol levels, useful for heart disease patients.
- also, reduces blood pressure.
- helps build up stamina.
- useful in the treatment of respiratory system disorders.
- used as a mouth wash for reducing tooth ache.
- good for maintaining dental health.
- useful in pyorrhea and other teeth disorders.
- cures ulcer in the mouth.