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Sprouted Foods Pack a Nutritional Punch

Mar 29, 2024 ● By Carrie Jackson
a glass jar of seeds.

Photo by charlottelake for Adobe Stock

People in Asian cultures have been sprouting food for thousands of years to maximize its nutritional and medicinal qualities. A study by the National Institutes of Health shows that sprouting is an effective technique to boost the nutritive profile of grains, and the Western world is seeing sprouted grains, beans and legumes becoming mainstream in stores, restaurants and at home. Meena Malhotra, M.D., is the medical director at Heal n Cure, an integrative facility in Glenview that specializes in functional medicine. She says that sprouting is an efficient and delicious way to maximize the nutritional benefits of common foods.

“Grains store energy so that seeds can turn into a plant. Sprouting is the process of germinating these seeds, making them easier to digest and more efficient for the body to absorb the nutrients. As the seedling is growing, it uses up all the starch as an energy source but leaves behind all the beneficial fiber-rich covering and other goodness. This lowers the carbohydrate value, but maintains the healthy nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene and other minerals,” Malhotra explains. 

A number of common foods can be sprouted. Malhotra recommends mung beans, rice, legumes and wheat for ease and taste. While many products, such as sprouted grain bread, are commonly available in stores, it’s easy to sprout foods at home. Malhotra says seeds need the right combination of water, sun and air to germinate. “The moisture and temperature have to be controlled in order for the seeds to thrive. You can buy germinators or other gadgets that help to regulate conditions, or you can monitor them yourself. It’s important to start with a whole grain, because if the covering is broken the nutrients get lost. Put the grains or beans in a glass container and fill with water just to the level, so they are not fully submerged. Move the container into direct sunlight and let the seeds soak for approximately 48 hours. Once the grains start swelling, drain the extra water, cover with a moist towel and let them rest. The sprouts will start coming out and then they are ready to use.”

The total time will depend on the actual seed. Beans typically require two to three days for sprouting, whole grains like quinoa may only take one and beans such as chickpeas may take five. 

Malhotra recommends steaming the sprouts, blending into a paste or even eating them raw. “The finished product is a powerhouse of nutrients that is rich with vitamins and minerals, easy to digest and delicious,” she assures. 

Heal n Cure Medical Wellness Center is located at 2420 Ravine Way, Ste. 400, in Glenview. For more information, call 847-686-4444 or visit

Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings. Connect at