Soy Bean Sprouts

Soy bean sprouts are young soy beans harvested right after germination. They have a long history of human consumption of at least 5000 years. They are rich in key nutrients and also have a distinctive and special taste. Soy bean sprouts are available today in many stores but can also be produced at home from germinated seeds.

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The sprouts of soy beans are a major source of plant proteins, isoflavones and vitamins. However, other sprouts such as the ones of alfalfa or mung beans are a lot more popular in modern cuisine. Soy beans are rich in carbohydrates but most of them are metabolized during sprouting, when the trypsin inhibitors also become inactive and proteins are more easily digested. The process also boosts the content of vitamin C in the sprouts.

While soy bean sprouts used to be available only in special health food stores, they are now found in normal supermarkets as well. Many people choose to grow them at home, which is easy to do.

Health benefits

Sprouts are very valuable in nutrition due to the unusually high content of enzymes, when compared to other foods. Enzymes are especially known for their role in human digestion but also influence many other chemical reactions and metabolic functions. During the process of digestion, enzymes contribute to breaking down food in order to extract nutrients, allowing the digestive tract to absorb a larger amount. Digestion is also improved by the large amounts of fibers supplied by soy bean sprouts. These regulate bowel movements by providing bulk to the stool. Another mechanism that makes digestion more effective is the stimulation of gastric juice production, which is also triggered by the enzymes in soy bean sprouts. These juices also play a key role in breaking down food. In addition, fibers reduce the risk of digestive problems like diarrhea, constipation or the formation of tumours.

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Soy bean sprouts are rich in vitamin A, which has been known for a long time to improve vision. This key vitamin has the ability to neutralize free radicals and protect the eyes from their destructive action. It prevents the onset of many conditions such as cataract, glaucoma or macular degeneration. Including soy bean sprouts in your diet is a simple and effective way to improve your vision.

Soy bean sprouts provide a generous amount of lysine. It can significantly reduce the risk of cold sores and cure them if sores are already present. Cold sores are very embarrassing and can also become really painful. While many people ignore them, sores can become infected and turn into a very serious health risk.

The lack of enough iron in the body is known as anemia in scientific terms. Iron is required for the production of red blood cells and their number will start to drop if not enough iron is sourced from food. The symptoms of anemia are severe fatigue, nausea, poor concentration as well as digestive issues. Soy bean sprouts supply a good amount of both iron and copper, the essential minerals required for a normal blood count. As a result, the flow of blood is optimized in the entire body, so cells and internal organs are supplied with nutrients and can perform at optimal capacity.

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Some of the healthiest foods, like soy bean sprouts, are very rich in nutrients while having a low content of calories. As a result, you can safely consume them even if you are on a very strict diet. They are rich in fibers that are very filling and eliminate the need for small snacks between the main meals. This is achieved by limiting the production of ghrelin, a hormone that gives the sensation of hunger. Fibers also bulk up the bowels, adding to the above effect. One of the main problems of obese people is the additional snacks consumed between the meals.

Soy bean sprouts are very rich in the healthy fatty acids known as omega-3. These are considered to be HDL cholesterol, or the good variety, and can maintain the health of arteries and smaller blood vessels by reducing the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which is the source of many diseases. Fatty acids from the omega-3 group also reduce the overall strain on the cardiovascular system due to their strong anti-inflammatory effect. In addition, soy bean sprouts provide a good amount of potassium, which has the ability to dilate blood vessels and arteries, diminishing the stress placed on them. The risk of conditions like strokes, atherosclerosis or heart attacks is reduced since more oxygen reaches the tissues and the formation of clots is prevented.

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Germinated soy beans are very rich in folate, preventing one of the most serious problems of infants. The lack of folate, which is one of the B-complex vitamins, can lead to a number of very serious diseases collectively known as neural tube defects.

Consuming sprouts is known to boost the immune system, due to several separate factors. The main active ingredient is vitamin C, a strong immune stimulant that activates the body's natural defences in the fight against infection. Larger sprouts have a higher concentration of vitamin A, up to 10 times the initial dose. This vitamin is another powerful antioxidant that makes the immune system more effective against all types of pathogens.

Diets that focus on preventing cancer can make good use of soy bean sprouts, due to the high amount of antioxidant compounds. These include the already mentioned vitamins A and C, but also a mixture of very effective antioxidant enzymes, proteins and amino acids. These are able to search and neutralize the free radicals in the body, which are natural products of the cell metabolism. Free radicals are very dangerous because they can alter the chemical structure of cells, triggering a wide range of chronic or even lethal diseases like heart conditions or cancer. Oxidation is also known to accelerate the symptoms of aging. Consuming soy bean sprouts is a natural way to reduce the risk of cancer.

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Side effects and cautions

It is very important to cook soy bean sprouts properly, in order to kill the bacteria in their composition. Consuming large amount is not recommended, for several reasons. It can cause resistance to insulin and alter normal leptin sensitivity. The high amount of phytates in soy bean sprouts is another potential problem, because it reduces the amount of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium or zinc.

The trypsin inhibitors found in soy are known to upset hormonal balance and cause pancreatic issues. Many soy products are also based on genetically modified plants. Some people believe these to be dangerous and a cause for sterility, birth defects, allergies or even cancer.

Soy bean sprouts are a source of phytoestrogens that block the action of estrogen due to the very similar chemical structure. As a result, consuming a lot of soy can trigger hormonal issues that turn into breast cancer or infertility.

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