Dietitian's Mailbag #4: Sprout-of This World!

This week's question is about bean sprouts, and it couldn't have come at a better time.  Wait a minute—there's a best time to ask about bean sprouts?!  Yes, but we'll get to that in a bit.  First, let's hear from EAT Club eater Emily P. of San Francisco who writes:

"I LOVE bean sprouts.  They are so crunchy!  But do they have any nutritional value?"

Did you know that beans are actually a type of seed?  In fact, bean sprouts are simply beans that have been germinated (much like the first growth from a seed planted in the ground, for all you urban farmers out there).  Beans sprouts don't need to be in soil to sprout, though.  You can actually sprout them in a jar, right in your kitchen. The most common bean sprout is that of the mung bean, pictured above.

Look familiar?  These little guys are especially common to Asian cuisine.  They are thin, white, and pack a lot of crunch!  But how do they measure up when it comes to nutrient density?  Let's compare mung bean sprouts to iceberg lettuce, notorious for falling short in nutrients in comparison to other veggies out there.

mung bean vs iceberg 3

In addition to providing three times as much protein, overall, bean sprouts are higher in several vitamins and minerals.  That being said, bean sprouts are mostly made-up of water, so if you're looking to get some awesome texture in your food without adding calories, these could be a fantastic option.

I know, I know—you can't take the suspense any more!  Why is now the perfect time to talk about bean sprouts?  Is it bean sprout season?  Maybe, who knows!  Has Gwyneth Paltrow announced this as her new favorite "super food"?  Hasn't hit my news feed yet.  I'll give you a hint:  Kung Hei Fat Choy!

That's right!  Chinese New Year is just a week away, and EAT Club will be celebrating with some tasty dishes.  Can't get enough bean sprouts?  Look for Ja Jiang Noodles on the menu, a flavorful dish of minced turkey and organic tofu, in a sweet and spicy bean sauce, served with wheat noodles and—you guessed it—bean sprouts.
Shira healthy pick face stamp
Shira Katz, M.S., R.D. is the former EAT Club Staff Dietitian
You can follow Shira on Twitter@SunnySideHealth