Sprouts Are Health Food for the Centuries

Sproutsare Health Food for the Centuries

DetroitFree Press

March24, 1999

BYCAROL J.G. WARD
Knight Ridder Newspapers

Medicinallyand nutritionally, sprouts have a long history.

It isbelieved that Chinese physicians prescribed sprouts for curing many disordersmore than 5,000 years ago, according to the International Sprout GrowersAssociation.

And inthe 1700s, Capt. James Cook had his sailors eat limes, lemons and varieties ofsprouts -- all abundant providers of vitamin C -- to help prevent scurvy on longvoyages.

It isonly in the past 30 years that Westerners have become interested in sprouts,according to the association.

Sproutscan grow from the seeds of vegetables such as radishes and broccoli, from grainssuch as alfalfa and buckwheat, and from beans and other plants such assunflowers.

· Availability: Some of the more commonly known sprouts such asalfalfa and bean are available in supermarkets. Others such as broccoli sproutscan be found at health food stores.

· Selection and storage: Choose crisp-looking sprouts with the budsattached, advises Sharon Tyler Herbst in "The Food Lover's Tiptionary"(Hearst Books, $15).

Avoiddark or slimy sprouts and those with a musty smell.

Mung-beansprouts should be refrigerated in a plastic bag for no more than three days.More delicate sprouts such as alfalfa should be refrigerated in the ventilatedplastic container in which they're usually sold and kept for no more than twodays.

Washsprouts just before using and blot dry with paper towels.

Mung-beansprouts can be frozen if they are to be used in cooking. They stay good frozenin their bag for several months.

· Use: Sprouts vary in texture and taste. Some are spicy (radish andonion sprouts). Some are hardy (mung bean) and are often used in Asian foods.Others are more delicate (alfalfa) and are used in salads and sandwiches to addtexture and moistness.

· Nutritional highlights: Sprouts in general are a good source ofprotein and vitamin C, but experts say broccoli sprouts are one of the mostpowerful cancer prevention weapons available.

Studiesshow there is up to 50 times more anticancer chemical in broccoli sprouts thanin the mature vegetable. The sprouts don't taste like broccoli. They are loadedwith a concentrated form of sulforaphane, a powerful cancer fighter, accordingto researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

However,health experts advise caution when adding alfalfa sprouts to dishes, especiallythose that will be eaten by young children or the elderly.

Becauseof the inability to control growing conditions and the absence of a procedure tokill bacteria during processing, alfalfa sprouts can be a source of salmonellainfections