Raw Sprouts: Good or Bad?

by in Healthy Tips, May 31, 2012
sprouts
Are sprouts safe?

The FDA categorizes sprouts as a potentially hazardous food, which means they can carry illness-causing food bugs. Does this mean you should steer clear of them? Not necessarily.

Good?
Raw sprouts like alfalfa, clover, radish, onion and mung bean add color, texture and flavor to dishes. They can be enjoyed cold in sandwiches and salads or warm in stir-fries.

Sprouts are also a nutrient-dense food. One cup of alfalfa sprouts has a mere 8 calories and is a good source of vitamin K. It also provides a slew of other nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, folate, copper and manganese.

Bad?
Over the past 16 years, there have been at least 30 reported illness outbreaks associated with raw or lightly cooked sprouts. Most of the outbreaks were caused by E. Coli or salmonella. In these outbreaks, the seed was typically the source of the bacteria. Although there are various approved treatments to destroy harmful bacteria on seeds and testing is done during sprouting, there’s no guarantee that all the bacteria will be destroyed.

Think homegrown is safer? Not necessarily. Even if the sprouts are grown under sanitary conditions in your own home, the source of the bacteria is in the seed itself. The bacteria will happily multiply while the seed is sprouting.

Folks with weaker immune systems like older adults, infants, young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid raw sprouts.

Bottom Line: If you have a strong, healthy immune system, eating raw sprouts shouldn’t be a problem.  If you’re worried or have a compromised immune system, be sure to eat thoroughly-cooked sprouts and avoid raw or slightly-cooked ones. When dining out, hold the sprouts and be wary pre-made salads and sandwiches which contain them .

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Comments (88)

  1. […] Read at source website […]

  2. Rueben says:

    Not a fan of raw sprouts.

  3. […] here: Raw Sprouts: Good or Bad? This entry was posted in Food Network and tagged bacteria, bad, cooked, good, illness, […]

  4. NelleGCSUB says:

    I personally like sprouts, but nota lot of them. They are delicious in turkey sandwiches, and good in Asian cuisine. I honestly don't feel that sprouts are bad for you, unless you are cautious of where you get them, and you don't have too much of them.

  5. @sirajronke says:

    why not eating the well cooked sprouts instead of thougting the condition of health.

  6. Shanna says:

    What am I missing… 30 cases in 16 years seems like a pretty low risk to me.

  7. […] Try some superfoods.  In March Women’s Health had a report on superfoods.  I’d really love to try out some of these.  The full report is here (but I would like to say, be careful about trying out sprouts!  They can be unsafe to eat regardless of how they are grown). […]

  8. Norene says:

    I am with you Shanna. I have been eating sprouts for YEARS! And have never been ill from them.
    I do suggest if folks want to be careful, that you place them in a Collander & rinse them well. They are so
    delicious & nutricious. Love them in sandwiches & salads.

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