What are Bean Sprouts?
Bean sprouts (Vigna radiate) are the soft edible shoots harvested from the germination of beans. They belong to the Fabaceae legume family. They have small leaves attached to a bright white shoot. Generally, sprouts refer to seeds that have grown into young plants.
- The germination of seeds starts by soaking them in water first and within two to seven days these sprouts grow.
- These sprouts produce a chewy and slightly sweet flavor when added to food.
Ten common types of sprouts are:
- Adzuki bean sprouts
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Broccoli sprouts
- Clover sprouts
- Daikon radish sprouts
- Soybean sprouts
- Sunflower sprouts
- Wheat sprouts
- Lentil sprouts
- Pea sprouts
Origin of bean sprouts
These sprouts have been in existence in Asia for about 5,000 years and have a special place in some Asian cuisines. The traditional way of producing them involved growing mung beans in a bucket. A big stone was then placed over the bucket. To encourage proper growth, people watered the sprouts a few times a day. As the shoots grow, they push against the rock, which is a process called “stress.” This system produced a higher number of sprouts with fewer roots, however, there are more modern processes used in bean sprout production today.
People use these in various ways in the kitchen. First of all, you can combine bean sprouts with dressings and vegetables to make salads. Also, this food can also serve as an ingredient in soups and stews. Additionally, beans sprouts are an integral ingredient in noodle dishes and other foods that belong to Chinese and Thai cuisines.
One cup of raw bean sprouts contains:
Different types have varying health benefits. Here are some of them:
- The sprouts from mung beans have low-calorie content and might be able to fight cancer cells.
- Pea sprouts are rich in folate, which helps to prevent congenital disabilities and abnormalities.
- Lentil sprouts may offer anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Kidney bean sprouts can protect the body from free radicals that cause cell damage.
There is one significant health concern that applies to eating sprouts and that is they can cause foodborne illness. The seeds and beans used to grow sprouts need warm and humid conditions. Unfortunately, these conditions also encourage the growth of bacteria. Therefore, beans sprouts can cause food poisoning, if eaten raw or poorly cooked. Common symptoms that follow food poisoning include diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.
Bean sprouts are generally produced from mung beans, soybean, or adzuki beans. Light is not necessary for the germination of sprouts. Sprouts grow within four to five days, if placed under the right temperature and watering conditions.
India is currently the top producer of mung beans. The global market value for this is estimated to reach $4376.9 million at the end of 2026. This value is estimated to increase at a rate of 0.9% between 2020 and 2025.
These sprouts can last for two to six weeks in the fridge. They can also stay fresh for about three months in the freezer. If you plan to consume your freshly harvested sprouts the next day, place them in a bucket of icy water. Should you notice any foul odor or mold from them, don’t attempt to consume them.
Bean sprouts recipes
Bean sprouts lend themselves to a variety of delicious dishes. Here are some recipes to try:
- Chicken and Bean Sprouts Stir Fry
- Rice Noodles with Pork and Bean Sprouts
- Spicy Sprouted Lentils
- Bean Sprout Salad
- Stir-fried Pea Shoots with Garlic
The Food and Drug Administration controls the growing, harvesting, and packing of various types of sprouts. The organization classifies sprouts as a raw agricultural commodity. Some guidelines define the requirements for the beans or seeds used to grow sprouts. If you discover that many seeds or beans have been contaminated with a pathogen, it’s vital that the beans from that lot are not used for sprout production. Furthermore, it’s pertinent that the discovery be reported to the seed grower or supplier.
The FDA also has measures that apply to the growing, harvesting, and holding of sprouts. These include taking the necessary steps if irrigation water used on sprouts test positive for a pathogen. Also, any food contact surfaces must be sanitized before growing beans or seeds of sprout on them. Not to mention, it is necessary to grow, pack, and harvest the sprouts in a fully-enclosed building.
“Bean Sprouts Mung.” Specialty Produce, Specialty Produce, specialtyproduce.com/produce/Bean_Sprouts_Mung_269.php.
Lang, Ariane. “7 Interesting Types of Bean Sprouts.” www.healthline.com, Healthline Media, 13 Nov. 2019, www.healthline.com/nutrition/bean-sprouts-nutrition.
“CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.” accessdata.fda.gov, U.S Food & Drug Administration, 1 Apr. 2019, www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=112.1.