vitamin contribution: B vitamins, folate, vitamin C Major mineral
contribution: Iron, potassium
The Nutrients in Bean Sprouts
beans use stored starches and sugars to produce green shoots called
sprouts, sprouted beans have less carbohydrate than the beans from which
they grow. But bean sprouts are a good source of dietary fiber,
including insoluble cellulose and lignin in leaf parts and soluble
pectin and gums in the bean. The sprouts are also high in the B vitamin
folate and vitamin C.
cup raw mung bean sprouts has 1.2 g dietary fiber, 31.5 mcg folate (16
percent of the RDA for a man, 17.5 percent of the RDA for a woman), and
7 mg vitamin C (11.5 percent of the RDA).
contain anti-nutrient chemicals that inhibit the enzymes we use to
digest proteins and starches; hemagglutinens (substances that make red
blood cells clump together); and "factors" that may inactivate vitamin
A. These chemicals are usually destroyed when the beans are heated.
Sprouted beans served with the bean must be cooked before serving.
for: Fresh, crisp sprouts. The tips should be moist and tender. (The
shorter the sprout, the more tender it will be.) It is sometimes
difficult to judge bean sprouts packed in plastic bags, but you can see
through to tell if the tip of the sprout looks fresh. Sprouts sold from
water-filled bowls should be refrigerated, protected from dirt and
debris, and served with a spoon or tongs, not scooped up by hands.
Mushy sprouts (they may be decayed) and soft ones (they have lost
moisture and vitamin C).
Refrigerate sprouts in a plastic bag to keep them moist and crisp. If
you bought them in a plastic bag, take them out and repack them in bags
large enough that they do not crush each other. To get the most vitamin
C, use the sprouts within a few days.
Preparing Bean Sprouts
sprouts thoroughly under cold running water to get rid of dirt and sand.
Discard any soft or browned sprouts, then cut off the roots and cook the
tear or cut the sprouts until you are ready to use them. When you slice
into the sprouts, you tear cells, releasing enzymes that begin to
destroy vitamin C.
Happens When You Cook Bean Sprouts
destroys some of the heat-sensitive vitamin C in sprouts. To save it,
steam the sprouts quickly, stir-fry them, or add them uncooked just
before you serve the dish.
Other Kinds of Processing Affect This Food
Vitamin C is heat-sensitive, and heating the sprouts during the canning
process reduces their vitamin C content.
Uses and/or Benefits
of some birth defects. As many as two of every 1,000 babies born in the
United States each year may have cleft palate or a neural tube (spinal
cord) defect due to their mothers' not having gotten adequate amounts of
folate during pregnancy. The current RDA for Eolate is 180 mcg for a
woman and 200 mcg for a man, but the FDA now recommends 400 mcg for a
woman who is or may become pregnant. Taking folate supplements before
becoming pregnant and continuing through the first two months of
pregnancy reduces the risk of cleft palate; taking folate through the
entire pregnancy reduces the risk of neural tube defects.
of heart attack. In the spring of 1998, an analysis of data from the
records for more than 80,000 women enrolled in the long-running Nurses
Health Study at Harvard School of Public Health/Brigham and Woman's
Hospital in Boston demonstrated that a diet providing more than 400 mcg
folate and 3 mg vitamin B6 a day from either food or supplements, more
than twice the current RDA for each, may reduce a woman's risk of heart
attack by almost 50 percent. Although men were not included in the
analysis, the results are assumed to apply to them as well. NOTE: Fruit,
green leafy vegetables, beans, whole grains, meat, fish, poultry, and
shellfish are good sources of vitamin B6.
Effects Associated with Bean Sprouts
poisoning: Reacting to an outbreak of Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7
food poisoning associated with eating raw alfalfa sprouts, the Food and
Drug Administration issued a warning in 1998 and again in summer 1999,
cautioning those at high risk of food-borne illness not to eat any raw
sprouts. The high-risk group includes children, older adults, and people
with a weakened immune system (for example, those who are HIV-positive
or undergoing cancer chemotherapy). Tests conducted by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture in 1999 suggest that irradiating raw sprouts
and bathing them in an antiseptic solution at the processing plant may
eliminate disease organisms and prolong the vegetable's shelf life; this
remains to be proven.