Raw Sprouts vs Boiled Sprouts: The Consumer's Guide
Information regarding the differences between raw and boiled sprouts can get confusing: Which are healthier to eat? Which are safer to eat? These are some of the most frequently asked questions. We’ve compiled all the common questions, topics and comparisons for the most definitive guide.
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What Are Sprouts?
Sprouts are the shoots that grow out of seeds, beans, legumes, nuts and grains after being soaked. The most common type of sprout is the mung bean sprout, which is a thin off-white shoot that has a crunchy texture.
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Other Common Types Of Sprouts
Mung Bean Sprouts
Although sprouts have been eaten for thousands of years, in recent years they’ve become increasingly popular to eat for their health benefits. Broccoli sprouts for example have been researched for their high levels of sulforaphane, which has been linked to potentially many health benefits: protect against brain damage, sun damage, improve constipation, protect against cancer and many more benefits too (Source: HealthLine.com).
Sprouts are most commonly eaten in smoothies, snacks, added salads, or for dressing dishes. There is an endless possibility for experimenting with sprouts, as each variety has different texture and taste profiles.
Differences Between Boiled And Cooked Sprouts
It’s essential we distinguish between cooking and boiling so there is no confusion when making your sprouts safe to eat.
Boiling - When water is heated high enough it starts to evaporate. Once the temperature is high enough food can then be placed in the water to cook. Typically you'll boil water in a large pot over the stove. There isn’t a specific amount of time that constitutes boiling for killing bacteria, although one key measure would be raising your food up to 170ºF (75ºc), to kill potential bacteria.
It should be noted that not all bacteria will be killed when boiling, although it will kill common foodborne bacteria found in sprouts, such as e coli and listeria.
Cooking - Cooking is the umbrella term for many different forms of heating your food. They can include, frying, baking, and microwaving, all are typically without the presence of water. We will not be comparing or exploring these methods of heating sprouts in this article.
Does Boiling Sprouts Kill Nutrients?
Yes, when boiling your sprouts, the amount of nutrients will decline - studies suggest as much as by ⅓. It's suggested to steam your sprouts if you would like to preserve the maximum amount of nutrients.
Which Is Healthier To Eat?
As boiling can decrease the amount of nutrients contained within you beans, raw sprouts could be considered to be healthier. Although both are packed with many different nutrients, vitamins and minerals, that also have health benefits too.
Why Would You Boil Sprouts?
Boiling sprouts is recommended by the NHS (The United Kingdom’s health service) for ensuring that all bacteria is killed before cooking.
Their advice is: “The Food Standards Agency says you can eat sprouts raw if they are labelled "ready to eat". All other sprouts should be cooked thoroughly until steaming hot throughout. In addition, you should follow the manufacturers' storage instructions.” Source: Sprouted Seeds Safety.
Types Of Bacteria That Can Be Found On Sprouts
Less Commonly Found Bacteria On Sprouts
High Risk Food
Low immunity groups are at a higher risk of getting sick from contaminated and foodborne diseases. At risk groups include, young people, elderly people, pregnant women, and those with underlying health conditions or receiving treatment.
For people that fall into these groups, should always avoid consuming raw sprouts. The recommended advice is to cook your sprouts until they’re ‘steaming hot throughout’ (NHS.uk).
Are Raw Or Boiled Sprouts Better For Weight Loss?
When it comes to comparing raw vs boiled sprouts for weight loss, there isn’t a clear answer. Both will contain the same amount of calories, and both can be incorporated into many dishes too. Providing that you’re not in a vulnerable group with a compromised immune system, you should eat whichever you prefer to consume.
Weight loss is controlled by both exercise and diet, when your body is in a calories deficit (burning more calories than you consume) then you will start to lose weight. Sprouts can support you in losing weight, they’re a very low calorie source of food.
You can add sprouts to your favourite, salads, stir-frys, and meat dishes too. They’re an incredibly versatile vegetable which is perfect for aiding in weight loss.
Stir Frys - Adding a generous handful of mung bean sprouts to your stir fry of choice will not only enhance the texture, and soak up the flavor but also leave you more satisfied and full. Another way to incorporate sprouts is to use broccoli or alfalfa sprouts as a garnish just before serving.
Soups - In East Asian cooking it’s common to place sprouts into a soup. The texture gives great contrast to your typical flavor and taste.
Smoothies - Many health conscious people have been promoting the eating of broccoli sprouts. Often for ease of consumption they will add to a fruit smoothie or superfood blend, which will take away the peppery taste whilst still delivering the health benefits.
Salads - Either sprinkling on top to dress a salad or by mixing it in, sprouts are a great addition. By experimenting with different flavors such as spicy broccoli seeds, or slightly nutty alfalfa seeds you can create a tasty unique lunch or dinner.
Other Ways To Kill Bacteria Without Losing Health Benefits
Steaming your sprouts can not only kill the harmful bacteria but it will also help to preserve some of the nutrients too.
Steaming - The process of hot steam, raising the temperature of your sprouts to kill the bacteria can be used for safe consumption. Add your sprouts to a steaming basket, tray, or machine, before leaving to steam for a minimum of 5-10 minutes. After which you can check them to ensure they’re thoroughly cooked throughout.
Not Recommend Methods For Killing Bacteria:
Blanching - When you blanch sprouts you only expose them to high temperatures for a few minutes. As it’s such a short exposure, the temperature of the sprouts is unlikely to have risen enough to ensure that all of the bacteria has been killed, and you sprouts thoroughly cooked through.
Freezing - Freezing sprouts does not kill the bacteria. By reducing the temperature of your sprouts below their freezing point you can make the bacteria become dormant, stopping it from growing, multiplying or infecting the sprouts. However when you thaw the sprouts the dormant bacteria will become active again, and start to rapidly multiply. When consuming defrosted sprouts you face the same contamination risks as raw sprouts.
How To Boil Sprouts
Boiling sprouts is a very easy process that doesn’t take long to complete too, however it’s necessary to complete it correctly to ensure the bacteria is killed. Here is a general method for boiling your sprouts. As each sprout variety is of different size and you may add different amounts of sprouts to the pot, adjust the method accordingly.
1. Wash your sprouts thoroughly in the sink until clean
2. Add your water to the pot and bring it to the boil
3. Once boiling add in your sprouts
4. Boil your sprouts for a minimum of 10 minutes (or until hot throughout)
5. Remove a sprout and very carefully test that it steaming hot all of the way through
6. Once all sprouts are steaming hot all of the way through carefully drain you sprouts in the colander
Is It Safe To Eat Raw Sprouts?
As advised by the NHS.uk, you should only eat raw sprouts if the packaging states: safe for raw consumption. If it does not then you should always boil your sprouts to kill the bacteria and make them safe. Always follow the food producers or manufacturers instructions.
Are Microgreens Safer Than Sprouts?
If you follow all of the product specific information, for sprouting and microgreens growing. Then both are safe to grow, consume and enjoy.
What Are The Healthiest Sprouts To Eat?
Each sprout contains different vitamins, minerals and nutrients. If you’re looking for specific vitamins then it’s recommended that you do research for sprouts that contain it. Currently broccoli sprouts are the most trendy type of sprout to consume for the sulforaphane content.
Which Sprouts Are Rich In Protein?
It’s thought that sprouted beans and legumes are highest in protein content. For example, sprouted chickpeas contain 10g of protein per half a cup. (Source: LiveStrong.com). Many vegan and plant based dieticians recommend adding protein packed sprouts into your diet.
Why Do Sprouts Make You Fart?
This depends on the individual, their body, and type of sprout consumed. As each sprout could have a differing effect on each person there is no one answer to this, they may or may not.
Are Sprouts A Complete Protein?
Sprouts can be a source for complete protein: broccoli, alfalfa, lentil, mung bean, to name a few (Source: PachaVega). A complete protein is classed as a food that contains adequate amounts of all 9 essential amino acids (Source: Wikipedia).
When Should You Eat Sunflower Sprouts?
Sunflower sprouts take typically 7-10 days to fully sprout, they will have leaves coming from the top and green in color. There is no specific best time of day to consume sunflower sprouts.
Are Broccoli Sprouts Healthy?
Yes, broccoli sprouts are very healthy, and contain many health benefits too. They have high levels of sulforaphane and other micronutrients too.
Are Sunflower Sprouts Healthy?
Yes sunflower sprouts are healthy. They contain many vitamins such as B, C, E, and antioxidants too. You can now commonly find them in health food stores alternatively you could grow them at home too.
Are Sprouts More Nutritious Than Seeds?
When shoots grow from seeds, beans, and legumes, there is a surge in enzymes which cause many nutrients to become available that previously were not. You would have to compare specific sprouts with their seeds for a clear picture however oftentimes they’re more nutritionally dense.