Sprouting Grains, Beans,
And Seeds: A Healthy Choice?
and seeds frequently becomes a major part of raw a
foodist's regime, but are these foods actually healthy? What about the
claims that they're nutrient powerhouses?
I don't think it's fair to completely lambaste sprouts. People could
-although I rarely see this - sprout lettuce or spinach seeds and do
ok, but most raw foodists tend to concentrate on legumes and odd
grain/grass plants that don't fit our nutritional needs. None of these
foods cause the harm of, say, animal protein, but they're foods you
can find a number of reasons to avoid.
First off, how many sprouts do you commonly come across in nature,
where our dietary needs were shaped? You could probably find a few, but
the large amounts people throw on salads certainly wouldn't be around.
That aside, what a sprout is growing from plays a big part in
determining its nutritional composition and suitability for digestion.
Alfalfa sprouts, chickpea sprouts, lentil sprouts, or sunflower seed
sprouts all have different nutrient profiles
Sprouting Grains Beans And Seeds: Antinutrients
Phytic acid, a noted antinutrient that binds minerals and can lead to
mineral deficiency, is found within the hulls of many types of grains
as well as legumes of various types (1). Although sprouting does reduce
the presence of phytic acid, it's still present.
A number of other antinutrients are also found in grains.
Sprouting Grains and
Grasses - What's So Bad About Them?
What is a sprouted grain? It's essentially an immature form of a mature
grain, and it's likely to convey at least some of the harm the mature
What's wrong with grains?
Most grains contain addictive opioids. Wheat, for instance, has been
found to contain at least 15 opioid peptides (2). In human and animal
studies they've shown the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and
affect the central nervous system, which has the potential to alter our
mood, perception, cognition and behavior (3).
There's reason to believe that this interaction may play a part in the
development of schizophrenia (4) as well as other mental disorders.
Grains are pretty much a weaker version of a narcotic drug. Have you
ever heard someone say they're desperately craving bread? It's entirely
possible they're literally going through withdrawal because their brain
is no longer getting its opioid fix.
On a personal note, removing grains was the largest factor in
overcoming my colitis, which plagued me for years.
I see no good reason to go anywhere near grains, sprouted or otherwise,
and so I avoid them.
All the varieties of sprouted grasses - which are related to grains -
I've tasted have been revolting and so I don't touch them either.
Sprouting Grains, Seeds, and Beans: So What About Beans
and Other Legumes?
of air out of your rear should tell you pretty quickly your
body does not digest sprouted legumes much better than it does whole
beans or lentils.
Most legumes require cooking to be digestible, which should give you a
hint about them. Even when they're cooked they often putrefy in our
digestive systems and cause gas. Humans lack the ability to produce
large-quantities of the starch-digestive enzymes known as amylases
needed to break them down in an efficient manner. Their high protein
levels also cause digestive problems.
I'd say that's a pretty good reason to avoid legume sprouts, but I
don't think it's a major health concern if included in the diet
Sprouting Grains, Seeds, And Bean: What About Seeds and
Sprouted nuts and seeds are probably the best choices in the sprouts
category. They tend to carry the high fat content of the nuts and seeds
they come from, however, which may effect your diet. Eaten on occasion
they shouldn't cause any problems.
Sprouting Grains, Seeds, and Beans: But What About the
Nutrients in Those Sprouts?
Sprouted foods are frequently touted as nutrient powerhouses, and
sprouting certainly does increase concentrations of certain nutrients
over a food's non-sprouted version.
None appear unusually high in anything valuable, however. I've compared
nutrient data for sprouted and cooked lentils, sprouted wheat (wheat
grass) and sprouted Alfalfa to everyday spinach below.
Assorted Nutrients In 100 Grams of Sprouted
Raw Lentils, Cooked Lentils, Sprouted Raw Alfalfa, Sprouted Raw Wheat,
And Raw Spinach
All numbers from the USDA Nutrient Database
Sprouted Wheat (Wheat Grass)
Percent Of Calories From Carbohydrates
Percent of Calories From Fat
Percent of Calories From Protein
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 6 Fatty Acids
Sprouting Grains, Beans, and Seeds: What To Do?
Seeing numerous ways they could be contributing to ill health and no
reasons why they're necessary, I don't see any compelling reason to eat
If you eat them, I suggest you do eat them only ocassionally and choose
sprouted nuts and seeds instead of sprouted legumes and grains.
1) Committee on
Food Protection, Food and Nutrition Board, National
Research Council (1973). "Phytates".
Naturally in Foods. National Academy of Sciences.
pp. 363–371. ISBN 9780309021173.
2) Fukudome Si and
Yoshikawa M (1991) Opioid peptides derived from wheat
gluten: their isolation and characterization. FEBS Lett 296: 107-111.
3) Zagon IS and
McLaughlin PJ (1991) Brain Res. "Identification of opioid peptides
regulating proliferation of neurons and glia in the developing nervous
4) Dohan and
Grasberger (1973) Am J Psychiat 130:685-686
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