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The Nutrition of Broccoli Sprouts

Fitday Editor
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Scientists are discovering remarkable evidence that eating broccoli sprouts can help treat and prevent disease. The health benefits go far beyond the usual range of vitamins and minerals found in any green vegetable.

One ounce of broccoli sprouts contains 4% of the recommended daily value of dietary fiber, 15% of the recommended amount of vitamin C, and 2% of the recommended intake of calcium. Nonetheless, medical headlines about these sprouts have more to do with their remarkable effects on preventing disease than these modest percentages. Broccoli sprouts, which are young broccoli plants that look more like regular sprouts than broccoli, are especially interesting to researchers who are focusing on foods that may help prevent cancer.

Anti-Cancer Compound

For over 20 years, doctors have carefully studied human nutrition, as they look for clues as to what kind of diet may help prevent cancer. Findings suggest that fruits and vegetables are beneficial in preventing cancer. In recent years studies at Johns Hopkins and other universities all indicate that broccoli sprouts may be just what nature ordered to ward off cancer.

A chemical compound in the sprouts, sulforaphane, may treat or prevent several cancers, including prostate and breast cancers. This is a compound that may stop the growth of malignant tumors. Whole broccoli has suforaphane, too, but not in as large an amount as the sprouts. One university study found that the sprouts have 10 to 20 times more sulforaphane than whole broccoli.

Gastric and Respiratory Aid

A study from Japan says that broccoli sprouts show evidence of protection against a rampant stomach bug that can lead to ulcers. The authors of the study go even further to suggest that eating broccoli sprouts may prevent stomach cancer. These sprouts can also chase away respiratory ailments like asthma. When you eat broccoli sprouts, your body takes on greater levels of antioxidant enzymes. These enzymes keep your airways free of tissue damage.

Broccoli Versus Broccoli Sprouts?

Food scientists do not go so far as to advise you to switch from broccoli to broccoli sprouts because of all these therapeutic wonders. Broccoli sprouts are seen as healthful additions to your diet, along with whole broccoli, which has a rich array of vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Broccoli sprouts have an edge, though, in taste and looks. While you may have no trouble enjoying whole broccoli as part of your diet, you may know some younger children who back away when told to eat their broccoli. In contrast, the broccoli sprouts are shaped like alfalfa sprouts and crunchy--children may find the sprouts fun to eat.

Preserving Nutrients

Broccoli sprouts can be eaten raw, stir-fried or steamed. They look decorative in salads or piled on top of sandwich fillings like chicken or egg salad. A dash of a low-calorie mayonnaise or a light vinegar dressing of your choice makes them truly delicious. You will not lose the nutrient content by steaming your sprouts. You will best preserve the nutrients, though, if you do not cook the sprouts for long. If using the sprouts in a stir-fry, cook the sprouts over a very low heat and don't let them cook for more than a few minutes.

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