Healthy Eating

Eat More Sprouts

If you knew that sprouts could help fight cancer and lower cholesterol, wouldn't you munch on them more often?

Eat More Sprouts
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What if we told you they were high in vitamins C and A, beta-carotene, protein, and fiber? Before you race off to buy this health boost, follow our tips for using sprouts such as alfalfa, broccoli, mung bean, and radish.

BUYING AND STORING: Choose refrigerated varieties that are crisp and fresh, not wilted or musty-smelling. In the 1990s, sprouts were linked to several instances of food poisoning, so now most store-bought sprouts—including organic ones—are treated with a USDA-approved compound known as calcium hypochlorite to help prevent bacterial contamination. Cover and refrigerate any unused sprouts; they"ll keep for up to 10 days.

GROWING: Use a kit ( sells them) and add water, and you'll have seeds sprouting in just a few days.

EATING: Radish and onion sprouts are spicy while alfalfa and pea are sweet. Mung bean and soybean sprouts are hardy enough to stand up to brief cooking and can be used in omelets, stir-fries, and casseroles; more delicate sprouts like alfalfa will wilt if cooked and work best in salads and sandwiches.

HEALING: Many sprouts are being studied for the potential health benefits of their phytochemicals; broccoli sprouts, for example, contain a compound called sulforaphane that may help fight cancer, according to animal research at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. And a 2004 pilot study from the Tokyo University of Agriculture found that eating broccoli sprouts for one week raised good (HDL) cholesterol and lowered bad (LDL).