Health Benefits of Sprouts and Shoots

benefits of sproutsNot only do shoots and sprouts add flavor and texture to meals, they also contribute needed nutrients. Bean sprouts are typically more calorie dense than seed sprouts, but they also contribute more protein.

Research into the health benefits of shoots and sprouts is limited. However, recent studies are examining the anticarcinogenic and antioxidant powers of sulforaphane, a compound in sprouts. There is up to 100 times more sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts than mature broccoli.

Animal studies have seen sulforaphane inhibit breast cancer steam cell and prostate tumor growth, while decreasing oxidative damage.

A small study found bamboo shoots to lower cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.

Buying sprouts and shoots

Popular sprouts include mung beans, wheat, radish, broccoli, and alfalfa.

Popular shoots include pea vines and bamboo.

You will generally find a large selection of shoots and sprouts at your local farmers market and Asian stores.

Select shoots and sprouts that are plump and crisp. Avoid stringy, discolored, slimy, or limp shoots and sprouts.

Using sprouts and shoots with meals

It is ideal to use shoots and sprouts the same day they are purchased, but they may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Rinse in cool water before use.

Shoots and sprouts can be added to a sandwich, blended into fruit and vegetable juices, mixed into soups, or added to stir-fries.

You can steam pea shoots with olive and garlic or include broccoli shoots as a nutritious pizza topping.

Raw sprouts are at increased risk for bacteria and food pathogens. Avoid raw sprouts if you are pregnant, elderly, or serving children. There approved treatments to reduce contamination, but there is no way to guarantee all bacteria is destroyed.

Rinsing sprouts does not remove potentially dangerous bacteria. Thorough cooking can kill the bacteria.

Incorporating shoots and sprouts into your diet is just on way to promote heart health. You may access the free e-course “How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps” here.

All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
Health Pro for HealthCentral

Image courtesy of Piyachok Thawornmat at