In traditional diets of our ancestors, soaking and sprouting of seeds was key to preparing food. Dal, rice, beans, nuts, seeds and other whole grains contain phytic acid. Soaking for a few hours before you cook helps to break down the phytic acid which makes it easy for the body to absorb all the nutrients and also digest the food better. Study shows that our grains contain arsenic, a compound found in earth‘s crust. By soaking the grain prior to cooking, the arsenic level can come down by 25-30%. Soaking grains also release compounds called lower order inositols – specifically myo- and d-chiro-inositol. And these compounds help support blood sugar regulation, metabolic and hormonal health (PCOS).Soaking of rice and dal can be done up till 4 hours. ( why eating lentils is important?) For oats and most nuts, soaking overnight is good.
Soaking in different culture
Traditionally In India, rice and lentils are fermented for at least two days before they are prepared as idli and dosas, or flour is fermented to make Bhatura; Africans soak corn overnight before adding it to soups and ferment corn for days to prepare a traditional dish; Welsh prepared similar dish by soaking oats overnight. Latin Americans ferment rice for long before cooking; Ethiopians make their distinctive bread by fermenting a grain called teff for several days; (Recipe of teff bread) Mexican corn cakes are fermented for two weeks in banana leaves; Americans and Europeans used fermented starter to Bake bread, cookies and cake. The Chinese were the first people to carry moong dal (mung bean) and sprout for consumption as they sailed on voyages overseas.
Sprouting of seeds
Sprouting involves soaking seeds, draining water and leaving them until they germinate. This germination process usually begins with the seeds being soaked for several hours. The soaked seeds are then exposed to the right combination of temperature and moisture, and allowed to grow for two to seven days. The end product is sprout. During sprouting, the seed releases enzymes that lays the nutritional foundation for it to become a plant. So, just when the seed sprouts and is sufficiently loaded with nutrients and enzymes, we consume it. These enzymes also help in our digestion process.
Soaking and sprouting of seeds are gaining popularity because of their highly concentrated nutritional benefits. Sprouts are low in calories and rich in fiber, enzymes, protein and other micronutrients. Following are some health benefits, after knowing them you wouldn’t stop yourself from adding sprouts to your daily diet.
Health benefits of Soaking and Sprouting:
Improves nutrient contents:
Almost all the whole grains, nuts and legumes are high in fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc and magnesium and protein. Studies show that sprouting may increase these nutrient contents even more.
Helps in digestion:
The concentration of fiber increases in sprouted grains. Fiber is one of the most important components for maintaining gut health. Fiber nourishes the good bacteria in the gut and promotes elimination and detoxification of the colon. (How to improve gut health?)
Break down anti nutrient contents:
Anti nutrients are compounds that reduce the absorption of certain nutrients within your body. Enzymes created during sprouting also break down the phytic acid present in some seeds. Phytic acid is also called ‘anti-nutrient’ because it makes it difficult for humans to absorb certain vitamins and minerals from food sources. By sprouting, the phytic acid of the seed breaks down and it becomes easier for humans to absorb more vitamins and minerals from the sprouted seed.
Aids in weight loss:
Sprouts are one of the best foods if you are looking for some weight loss. They are high in nutrients with very low calories. Sprouts contain a high amount of fiber that keeps you full for a long period of time. It also reduces the release of ghrelin, a hunger hormone, that tells our brain to eat more. (How to tackle obesity?)
Boost your immunity:
Consuming sprouts allow the body to absorb all the vital nutrients and antioxidants that protect and boost the immunity system. Sprouting process promotes the level of vitamin C and other antioxidants that make it easy for white blood cells to fight off infections and free radicals and hence builds strong immunity. (What are some more foods that boost immunity?)
Improves heart health:
Some sprouts contain omega 3 fatty acids which helps to control the cholesterol level in the body. The presence of potassium in sprouted grains helps reduce blood pressure level, which also reduces the risk of any cardiac problem.
Because of the presence of Vitamin A in sprouts, they help in improving eye health. Also the high antioxidants properties of sprouts protects the eye cells from free radicals. (What are common Eye concerns and foods to improve eye health?)
Good for skin and hairs:
Sprouts prevent premature ageing. The antioxidants present in the sprouts help combat cell damage due to free radicals that can cause premature ageing. Sprouts contains many components that helps hairs to grow healthy like: selenium in sprouts fights dandruff , zinc promotes production of sebum in the scalp, vitamin A stimulates hair follicles and help them to grow thicker and longer and presence of biotin helps in overall hair health. (Some foods for skin and hair)
Recipe of Sprouted Bean Millet Laddoo
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