Long, luscious hair is the dream of every woman. But not all of us are blessed with the same. Moreover, the market is filled with chemical-laden hair cosmetics that claim big only to leave us confused and frustrated. Little do we realize that treating the scalp with good products is not enough to get healthy hair. Following a healthy diet is also equally necessary. And here comes the importance of the very humble sprouts. Besides fruits, vegetables, nuts, and milk, these nutritional powerhouses also need to be part of our everyday diet for healthy and vibrant hair. Here is why you must start binging on sprouts for hair, how to include them in the diet, and the potential risks you must be taking into account.
What are Sprouts?
Sprouts are the seeds of legumes or grains that have germinated and become young plants with premature growth. The process of sprouting is a natural one in which the germination begins with the seeds soaked in water for several hours. When exposed to the right combination of temperature and moisture and allowed to grow for 2 to 7 days, those soaked seeds result in sprouts measuring 1/8–2 inches (2–5 cm.) in length. The high nutritional value of sprouts makes them a superfood, which is considered as a perfect addition to a healthy diet. Eating even a small amount of them promotes our health by enhancing the quality and digestibility of nutrients like proteins (1), (2), (3). Sprouts are generally consumed raw but may also be lightly cooked before consuming. Simply add them to your salads, snacks, stir-fries, etc. and enjoy!
The cultivation of sprouts was started in ancient India and Southeast Asia but they gained popularity in the West in the second half of the 20th century. However, people in the East have long been admiring sprouts for their nutrients, fast rate of growth, and resilience in adverse weather (4).
Different Types of Sprouts
Sprouting is a phase in the journey of each and every plant’s life (from seeding to bloom). Though not all those sprouts are edible, some of them are really palatable and can offer you an array of nutrients. Following are the most common categories of sprouts you can consider for consumption (5):
- Bean sprouts (mung bean, kidney bean, soybean, black bean, garbanzo bean, adzuki, lentil, etc.)
- Pea sprouts (green pea, slow pea, etc.) Such as lentil, adzuki,
- Grain sprouts (brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, oat, amaranth, kamut, etc.)
- Nut sprouts (almond, groundnut, etc.)
- Seed sprouts (radish seed, alfalfa seed, pumpkin seed, sesame seed, sunflower seed, etc.)
- Vegetable or leafy sprouts (Brussels, broccoli, fenugreek, beet, mustard green, clover, cress, radish, etc.)
These sprouts can be grown and consumed alone. Otherwise, combine them with each other in a single dish or for snacking on throughout the day.
Nutritional Profile of Sprouts
The process of sprouting boosts the levels of essential nutrients in the seedlings while keeping their calorie content significantly low. Depending on the varieties, sprouts usually contain concentrated values of vitamins (biotin or B7, folate or B9, C, E, K), minerals (magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, iron, zinc, and selenium), and proteins (6), (7), (8). They are also rich sources of essential amino acids and the levels may be even 30% higher than their whole food counterparts (9). Antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds like phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, etc. are also present in sprouts in great amounts (10), (11). In addition, sprouting decreases the number of antinutrients in the body by up to 87%, which ensures the maximum absorption of nutrients from the foods (12).
Read Also – Sprouts – Know Their Types and Health Benefits
Why Use Sprouts for Hair?
Being highly nutritious, sprouts benefit our hair to a great extent. Here is a detailed overview of how they can enhance the health and appearance of your locks:
1. Boosts Blood Supply to the Scalp
Whether you eat a bowl of sprouts daily or apply a thick paste of sprouts onto your scalp often, it turns out that the practice causes capillary reactions in the hair follicles. In other words, the nutritive ingredient is capable of generating new blood vessels and stimulating the flow of blood throughout the scalp. This results in a healthy supply of blood to all the cells in the scalp, which keeps hair strong and healthy.
2. Keeps Scalp and Hair Hydrated
The minerals locked up in sprouts cure a whole lot of hair issues by allowing different systems in the body to function well and maintaining the natural moisture balance of the scalp. Iron in them is specifically helpful in carrying oxygen from the bloodstream to the scalp as well as hair roots. A high level of zinc in sprouts is also essential for the replenishment of cells and the production of sebum in the scalp. These help in keeping both the scalp and the hair strands hydrated.
3. Provides Nourishment to Hair
Sprouts come loaded with vitamins, which nourish the hair fibers from deep within and keep them healthy. Vitamin A in sprouts helps in treating dryness of the scalp, hair roots, and hair strands. This stimulates the hair follicles for the better growth of hair. The fat-soluble vitamin K is required for generating protein in the scalp while dissolving the fats in the body. As a result, the hair roots become stronger naturally. Both biotin and vitamin C are helpful in reversing weak, brittle, and damaged hair. They also prevent hair thinning by locking moisture in the hair strands, thus making them long and luscious.
4. Bid Goodbye to Dandruff
Improper maintenance of the hair roots leads to an unhealthy scalp, which becomes a breeding ground for the fungus called ‘malassezia’. This not only causes dandruff but also turns the scalp flaky and itchy, thus removing the healthy hair follicles from it eventually. Sprouts contain selenium, which contributes to their antifungal properties. Hence, regular consumption of sprouts will keep dandruff at bay and avert itchy scalp effectively.
5. Prevents Premature Greying
Hair is no special to escape the attack of toxins. Premature greying and dead cell accumulation are some of the signs that your hair has undergone some terrific damage. Antioxidants in sprouts take care of hair by protecting it from oxidative damage. This prevents premature greying and helps the hair stay more youthful for longer.
6. Promotes the Growth of Hair
Sprouts give the normal metabolism of the body a considerable boost with its vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This removes harmful free radicals from the body and dead skin cells from the scalp. Consequently, the weak and brittle hair gets stronger and its growth gets stimulated to a large extent.
7. Helps in Hair Regrowth
Apart from vitamins and minerals, sprouts also ensure a good supply of silica to the hair. The silica content of certain sprouts like alfalfa has been found to slow down hair loss and put a stop to baldness. In fact, this mineral may help in making hair stronger and longer while contributing to its regrowth.
Read Also – 13 Effective Home Remedies to Treat White Hair
5 Easy Ways to Add Sprouts to Your Daily Diet
When it comes to adding sprouts to the daily diet, there are multiple ways for you. Check out below 5 easiest ones among them:
This might sound boring and dry, but salads have more than one benefit for your body. And adding more greens to your salad only means more good. So, do not hesitate to throw some sprouts in your salad. Try alfalfa sprouts for a nutty flavor, radish sprouts for a dash of spice, or green leaf sprouts for a subtle flavor.
You might have been adding veggies, cheese, herbs, and a whole lot of other stuffing to your omelet, right? But did you know that sprouts could make a way for it too? Yes, try making an egg white omelet with sprouts for a savory meal. You are sure to enjoy the goodness along with the taste!
Add a variety of sprouts to your dinner salad or simply stir-fry them with other vegetables. Having sprouts in the evening will also ensure a light meal.
Tired of those pancakes with maple syrup and/or banana? Give that good old version a healthy twist with sprouts. Just pack in your pancake mix with alfalfa sprouts, herbs, and veggies, and enjoy a wholesome meal with a wonderful taste.
Needless to say, sprouts taste the best when packed in between two slices of bread. Add your favorite topping or veggies to this delight and you are sure to make this a part of your everyday breakfast.
Benefits of Sprouts for Skin
The nutrients and plant compounds in sprouts are great for our skin too. Here is how consuming sprouts can enhance the health and beauty of your skin:
- Keeps the skin hydrated by locking in its natural moisture
- Regulates the production of sebum and prevents excess oil
- Enhances the skin texture by making it softer and smoother
- Minimizes the appearance of acne, breakouts, and blemishes
- Reduces inflammation and heals conditions like eczema, psoriasis, pruritus, etc.
- Detoxifies the skin to steer clear of signs of aging (wrinkles, fine lines, etc.)
- Gives the skin a natural, youthful glow through regenerative cell properties
- Protects the skin from sun damage and prevents skin cancer resulting from it
Benefits of Sprouts for Health
Now, here is a quick glimpse of the healthful benefits offered by different types of sprouts:
- The total amount of carbohydrates in sprouts is very low, which helps in keeping blood sugar levels under control. They also facilitate the breakdown and digestion of sugars with the increased activity of the amylase enzyme (13).
- Sprouts contain lots of insoluble dietary fibers, which improve the digestion of food in our body (14) and reduce the issue of constipation (15).
- Eating sprouts helps in losing weight as the enzymes in them increase the metabolic rate of the body and the protein and fiber contents reduce hunger pangs by keeping you full for a longer period of time.
- Sprouts help in keeping the heart healthy by reducing the levels of total and LDL (low-density lipoprotein or ‘bad’) cholesterol in the bloodstream. They also keep blood pressure levels under check, thereby improving cardiovascular health.
Potential Risks of Consuming Sprouts
As sprouts need a warm and humid environment to grow, they may contain harmful bacteria, such as E.coli, salmonella, etc. So, the consumption of raw or slightly cooked sprouts may lead to bacterial infections followed by food poisoning. In such cases, you may experience symptoms like stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and so on. However, washing the sprouts thoroughly before consuming them raw will reduce the risk of contamination. Cooked sprouts are recommended for people with weaker immune systems including children, pregnant women, and elders.
Sprouts are the germinated seeds of legumes or grains that have become young plants with premature growth. Sprouting is a natural process of germination in which the seeds are soaked in water for several hours, exposed to the right combination of temperature and moisture, and allowed to grow for 2 to 7 days. There are bean sprouts, pea sprouts, grain sprouts, nut sprouts, seed sprouts, and vegetable or leafy sprouts. The process of sprouting boosts the levels of essential nutrients in the seedlings while keeping their calorie content significantly low. They have concentrated values of vitamins, minerals, proteins, essential amino acids, antioxidants, phytochemicals, bioflavonoids, etc. This makes them a perfect addition to a healthy diet (salads, stir-fries, omelets, pancakes, sandwiches, etc.). They enhance the health and appearance of locks by boosting blood supply to the scalp, keeping scalp and hair hydrated, providing enough nourishment to hair, eradicating dandruff, preventing premature greying, promoting hair growth, and helping hair regrowth. Sprout also take great care of our skin and overall health in a number of ways. However, washing raw sprouts thoroughly before consuming and cooking sprouts nicely for people with weaker immune systems are recommended to avoid contamination.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Sprouts Be Eaten Daily?
Of course, you can eat sprouts every day to add a dose of health to your daily meals.
What is the Best Time to Eat Sprouts?
Eating sprouts in or along with the morning breakfast is considered the best.
Can We Drink Water after Eating Sprouts?
Drinking water right after eating sprouts will dilute them and lower the nutrition while messing up with the digestion and causing bloating.
How Do You Clean Sprouts before Eating?
Clean raw sprouts under cold running water thoroughly right before the consumption.
How Long Should You Cook Sprouts?
You should not cook sprouts for more than 5-10 minutes.
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