Used extensively in Asian cuisine, bean sprouts are not often considered by the public as a nutritional element. However, bean sprouts, or rather Mung Bean Sprouts, as they are properly called, contain pure forms of vitamins A, B, C, and E, in addition to an assortment of minerals including Calcium, Iron, and Potassium.
Thanks to this vitamin & mineral two-fisted punch of nutrition, bean sprouts are gaining popularity as a health food, turning up in everything from salads to soups or just as a healthy snack. Available fresh all year round, their delightful crunch and mild flavor make for an enjoyable snack experience, and are a welcome addition to many meals as an accompaniment or ingredient. It should be taken into consideration that the actual nutritional content is not sufficient as a total source of vitamins and minerals for the day; rather, they should be used in addition to other healthy, nutritious foods, and as a substitute for other less wholesome foods, such as rice and pasta.
Produced from mung beans, the sprouts are free of cholesterol, and are ideal for anyone counting calories. One cup of mung bean sprouts contains only approximately 30 calories, 3 grams of protein, only 6 carbohydrates, and only .2 grams of fat. Sprouts also contain a high source of fiber, are easily digestible and contain a high concentration of enzymes facilitating the digestive process.
A health advisory was issued for raw sprouts some years ago regarding the risk of food-borne illnesses. The reasoning was that sprouts are usually grown in a warm environment, ideal for the growth of bacteria. Cooking the sprouts will destroy this harmful bacteria. Washing and chilling raw sprouts will also reduce the risk of harmful bacteria.
The sprouts can be purchased canned, but for better quality and a superior flavor and crispness, then look for fresh bean sprouts in the produce aisle of your supermarket. They will stay fresh in the refrigerator for almost a week, but only maintain maximum freshness for about 3-4 days, and then will start to grow slimy and decay. Keeping them packed loosely will help to preserve their freshness. Look for sprouts that appear to have moist roots and a white color. They should be crisp, and are usually washed free of seed coats, but not always.
Exquisite in stir-fries, used them to replace noodles and rice, and add an assortment of herbs and spices such as ginger and garlic for an extra shopping list of various vitamins and health benefits. Some cultures also use the mung beans for creative dessert uses. Other ideas include using sprouts in coleslaw, wraps, and omelets.
It is easy to grow your own sprouts; there is a wealth of information and products available on the internet to help you maintain a fun and healthy sprout garden on your windowsill. In addition, it makes a great project for children!