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Bean Sprouts

 

BENEFITS

Some are high in folate; others are fair to good sources of protein, B vitamins, and iron

 

DRAWBACKS

Alfalfa sprouts may provoke a flare-up of symptoms in lupus patients

 

Various types of sprouts are available in health-food stores, supermarkets, and restaurants. However, few live up to their reputation as the prototype of health foods. Some sprouts are much more nutritious than others. A cup of raw mung bean sprouts, for example, provides 16 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of folate and 18 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. In contrast, it takes approximately five cups of alfalfa sprouts to yield comparable amounts.

 

Broccoli sprouts are receiving a lot of attention from researchers because they are a rich source of sulforaphane, one of the most potent anticancer compounds isolated from a natural source. Sprouts can contain 50 times more sulforaphane than mature broccoli.

 

Warning

Most sprouts, if free of bacterial contamination, can be eaten raw. An important exception is the sprouted soybean, which contains a potentially harmful toxin that is destroyed by cooking. People with lupus should avoid alfalfa sprouts; alfalfa in any form can prompt a flare-up of symptoms.

 

CAUTION

Anyone who eats raw sprouts is at risk for exposure to E. coli 0157:H7 or salmonella bacteria. The risk is greatest for children, seniors, and people with weak immune systems. If you are at risk, you shouldn't eat raw sprouts of any kind, especially alfalfa sprouts. If you are a healthy adult, you can minimize the risk by taking the following precautions: make sure the sprouts you buy are crisp and have buds attached. avoid dark or musty smelling sprouts. Respect the "best before" date. Refrigerate them immediately after you get home. You can also reduce risk of illness y cooking them before consumption.

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