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Healthy sprouts: What’s in alfalfa, cress, broccoli? | > – Guide

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Healthy sprouts: What’s in alfalfa, cress, broccoli?  |  > – Guide

As of: April 16, 2024 1:19 p.m. | from Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg-Logo

Sprouts and seedlings are extremely rich in healthy nutrients and vitamins, which can also strengthen the immune system. But good hygiene is needed to keep bacteria and fungi away.

by Lucia Hennerici

When you eat sprouts, seedlings or microgreens, you are harvesting them fresh – next to the cooking pot or the bowl for the salad. Because the young plants should have the best start in life, seedlings contain many nutrients: vitamins, minerals, secondary plant substances – and they are highly concentrated. Some sprouts are even being researched to supplement medical therapies. On the other hand, sprouts are susceptible to germ attack, so there are a few things to consider to avoid the risk of disease caused by bacteria and fungi.

Vitamins and nutrients: Why are sprouts healthy?

Because the offspring of plants should have the best chance of life and survival even under the most adverse circumstances, the seeds are rich in seeds Energy in chemically compressed form. During the germination process of sprouts from seeds, for example, proteins and carbohydrates are converted to grow the plant. These transformation processes (germination) make vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates easier to absorb and utilize when consumed by humans (Bioavailability). First of all: Not everything about healthy ingredients in seedlings, sprouts or microgreens has been fully researched. However, the sprouting offspring of vegetables such as broccoli often contain a disproportionate amount of vitamins and minerals in a “small space”.

Sprouts in blue, red and purple strengthen the immune system

Plants that contain anthocyanins are colored intensely red, purple or blue – these include red cabbage, beetroot or blue broccoli. But researchers don’t just notice them because of their color: Anthocyane According to studies, they can have a positive effect on vision and neurological health.

Colorful vegetables counteract free radicals

Alfalfa sprouts

In addition, sprouts have been proven to have a beneficial effect due to the anthocyanins they contain antioxidant effect, which the consumer advice center also points out. Plants – and also us humans – help antioxidants, among other things, against cell stress (oxidative stress caused by free radicals). This can promote diseases such as arthritis, cardiovascular diseases or cancer. Antioxidants taken in with food – from sprouts, vegetables, fruit or nuts – can therefore help protect against diseases. By the way, vitamins C, B2 and E are also known to have a protective effect.

Broccoli, alfalfa, cress: an overview of selected sprouts

Sprouts and seedlings contain nutrients, minerals and vitamins in a particularly compressed and concentrated form. But some of the small plants have particularly healthy ingredients and properties:

Healthy spiciness in broccoli sprouts: For example, if you grow broccoli or mustard from seeds, you will benefit from the healthy mustard oil in it – just like eating the large vegetable varieties. So-called mustard oil glycosides (such as the powerful indirect antioxidant sulforaphane) have been linked in studies to a reduced risk of kidney cancer. Also work Senfölglykoside like sulforaphane, anti-inflammatory. Sulforaphane is typical for cruciferous plants such as broccoli or cauliflower as well as other types of cabbage. Wild mustard – also called field mustard – also belongs to the cruciferous family. Researchers at the University of Heidelberg have also found broccoli sprouts with a weakened Growth of cancer cells and a more effective attack of tumor stem cells. The study was specifically about the mustard oil sulphoraphane in broccoli and related vegetables – for example radishes.
Healthy bitter substances in alfalfa sprouts: In addition to the mung bean, alfalfa (also called alfalfa or snail clover) is particularly popular for growing sprouts. For most people, this is certainly due to the nutty, bitter taste, but behind it there are also secondary plant substances that are interesting for health: sprouts of the legume alfalfa contain plenty Saponins. The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) rates saponins as anticarcinogenic (interfere with the formation and spread of cancer cells) and antibiotic as well as antifungal. They will also have one Cholesterol lowering effect attributed. Saponins are used therapeutically as expectorants in various cough medications. The basic rule is: In excess (for example in wild breeding) saponins can be toxic and, for example, cause irritation of the mucous membrane. However, there are no known cases of such poisoning from sprouts.
Cress against inflammation: Cress not only has a strong and spicy taste, but is also effective anti-inflammatory (antibiotic and antifungal/antimycotic effect). This applies not only to the classic cress from the supermarket, but also to the nasturtium, which is better known for its edible flowers. According to the German Nutrition Society, cabbage as well as cress and nasturtium also contain Glucosinolate. These mustard oil glycosides are also known from radishes or radishes. Glucosinolates help the plant to drive away predators – and they benefit human health as antioxidants against free radicals. Glucosinolates also have positive effects in the fight against diseases such as cancer. Blood pressure lowering effects are also observed.

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Should you eat sprouts raw?

For healthy adults without immune-related diseases or diseases that impair the immune system, the answer is: Yes, because when eaten raw (salad, bowl topping, etc.), the sprouts offer the most vitamins, minerals and nutrients – for example vitamin B1, B2, C, E, Magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc. Background: Vitamins are commonly sensitive to heat – you can no longer find any of it in cooked sprouts.

This is for people with not yet developed immune defenses (children) or weakened and heavily stressed immune systems (elderly, pregnant women). Risk of disease caused by bacteria and fungi is greater than for healthy people and can outweigh the vitamin benefits of raw sprouts. The Federal Center for Nutrition, for example, recommends that these groups of people not consume sprouts and seedlings raw.

If you have a weak immune system: blanch the sprouts

However, children, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems do not have to do without sprouts and seedlings entirely. Blanching can help: the short, strong exposure to heat kills bacteria and fungi. Although heat-sensitive vitamins also suffer from the treatment, the positive effect of the secondary plant substances is usually retained. Heat is also not a problem for the fiber in the plant fibers of the sprouts.

Risks: How dangerous can sprouts be?

Sprouts and seedlings are very healthy – but bacteria and fungi can settle on them. Exposure to germs can be particularly dangerous for people with a weakened or suppressed immune system. These include people suffering from autoimmune diseases and diabetes, as well as older people and small children.

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EHEC: Sick from sprouts

In 2011, there was an increased occurrence of a so-called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), particularly in northern Germany, which presented with severe diarrhea and abdominal pain. Over 50 people died as a result of the infection, later known as EHEC. In HUS, cells are usually damaged by toxins from bacterial metabolism. This particularly affects blood cells and cells in the kidneys. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), among others, identified bacteria on contaminated fenugreek seeds that had been grown into sprouts as the cause. The suspected pathogens were enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli – known as EHEC for short. EHEC is a type of bacteria that can also occur naturally in the intestinal flora of humans and animals.

Hygiene: This is what matters when it comes to sprouts

A moist environment is necessary to grow sprouts from seeds – as a rule, small pieces of coconut mats or growing mats are heavily moistened with water for private household use. Alternatively, for sprouts you can soak the germs and pour them into a sprout jar. Since moist, warm environments are also well suited for the proliferation of bacteria and fungi – and disinfectants are by no means suitable for food that is to be consumed – a safe source of seeds and hygiene are important when growing the sprouts. This helps:

Good ventilation at the location of the germination sets For sprouts, good rinsing and, above all, regular rinsing in the sprout jar is important. Turn the sprouts when rinsing in order to avoid permanently damp spots in the sprout jar. If an infestation with fungi or mold is discovered, the set with the sprouts should be destroyed in order not to take any risks.

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Sprouts, seedlings, microgreens: what is what?

There is a lot of confusion in everyday language about the difference between seedlings and sprouts, but in fact it’s about the different growth stages:

Seedlings are the babies among young plants: Strictly speaking, this really only refers to the first shoot from the seed including the leaves – the entire plant, as opposed to the sprout.

Sprouts are the stem and the first leaves of the young plant, which usually have already developed roots from the seeds. Even when people talk about “green seedlings”, they usually only mean sprouts – i.e. stems and the first greens that are harvested with scissors. As we know from the classic cress, the roots are usually not eaten with sprouts. Sprouts can be grown easily on potting soil or planting mats. Like young seedlings, sprouts also need a moist, light environment when germinating – they are less sensitive later than microgreens. Alternative for cultivation: a sprout glass, which could also be called a seedling glass. The seeds – for example from mung beans or lentils – are soaked in water and then placed in a glass with a mesh lid from which the water can be completely poured out. It stands at an angle for draining so that germs (bacteria and mold) have as little surface as possible to attack thanks to good ventilation after rinsing.

Microgreens are, so to speak, the teenagers among seedlings. Depending on the species, these are germinated plants that have already developed two to three leaves or pairs of leaves. For consumption – as with sprouts – the stem is cut off – so the entire seedling and seeds are not consumed. Microgreens are usually ready to harvest after a few weeks. According to the consumer advice center, suitable seeds for microgreens include beetroot, spinach, mustard, radishes, cress and nasturtium.

Experts from the article

Further information

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The meatballs consist of boiled potatoes, pointed peppers and green asparagus. Herbs and sprouts provide aroma. Recipe

Broccoli is healthy, has few calories, but has many valuable ingredients such as secondary plant substances. How do they work? more

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Far too good to throw away: the leaves of many types of vegetables are not only delicious, but also very healthy. more

This topic in the program:

NDR l Visits l 23.04.2024 20:15

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