It’s a battle of the sprouts in this article. In this heated debate, we talk about the benefits of both broccoli sprouts and alfalfa sprouts. We discuss how to use them and get really in-depth with the similarities and differences.
In general, sprouts are seeds that have germinated and become very young plants. The germination process typically starts with the seeds being soaked for several hours. These soaked seeds then are exposed to the right combination of temperature and moisture, allowing them to grow for several days.
There are many common types of sprout available to eat on the market, with two of the major ones being alfalfa and broccoli. You may also be familiar with bean sprouts, clover sprouts, and mung bean sprouts.
Which leads us to the discussion of alfalfa sprouts vs broccoli sprouts…what are the differences? To be brief, these types of sprouts may look similar, but their taste and nutritional content offer many variances.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide which ranks higher. Are you up for the challenge? Let’s get started!
What Are Broccoli Sprouts?
Broccoli sprouts are young broccoli plants, or the baby version of broccoli, that are about 3-5 days old once planted. This is what grows from the dirt before the seeds turn into a full bushel of broccoli.
You can either grow them at home or they can be purchased at a natural food grocer or a local farmer’s market. If you grow them yourself, you will see that a few days after planting broccoli seed, leafy greens should start sprouting with the young broccoli plant ready to harvest.
Broccoli Sprouts Nutrition
Broccoli sprouts add a lot of nutritional value to your diet, even more so than mature broccoli. This cruciferous vegetable is a great source of protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which are bioactive plant compounds.
From what the International Sprout Growers Association tells us, a 3-ounce serving of broccoli sprouts has only 35 calories, 5 grams of carbs, and 0.5 grams of fat. Raw broccoli sprouts also have 4 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. Its Vitamin C content retains 60% of the Daily Value, 10% of Vitamin A, and 6% of calcium.
Lastly, they contain a phytochemical called sulforaphane, which is supposedly responsible for most of the health benefits of broccoli sprouts.
Who would’ve thought little sprouts could be so nutritious?
Health Benefits of Broccoli Sprouts
If the crazy amount of nutrients hasn’t sold you yet, broccoli sprouts come with many benefits, and this is mainly due to the sulforaphane content.
This content may have anti-cancer properties, including epigenetic modulation, or helping to turn on and off certain genes involved in cancer inhibition or expression. Some of the cancers that sulforaphane can fight off include breast, prostate, colon, liver, and lung cancer.
The chemical also can support mental and brain health, protecting against certain brain conditions like brain stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It can also improve certain symptoms such as autism spectrum disorders.
Due to the antioxidant and antibacterial properties in the sulforaphane of broccoli sprout, benefits may also include promoting gut health and improving bowel movements.
I’m not even done yet!
Other potential health benefits include improved heart health, lower blood sugar levels, and better joint health.
Uses for Broccoli Sprouts
You might be thinking, “well I’m not just going to eat bunches of raw sprouts.” You’re right, it seems a little weird.
But don’t worry; there are plenty of ways to get the nutrients and benefits of broccoli sprout without having to actually eat what resembles grass.
Broccoli sprouts can be cooked into many dishes. For example, you can sauté them with other veggies and meat to create a stir-fry dish or cook them with noodles. If you want them cold, add them to any type of salad or sandwich.
If you just can’t stand the texture, it’s easy enough to blend them into a smoothie or juice with other fruits and leafy greens like spinach.
What are Alfalfa Sprouts?
Alfalfa sprouts are the baby shoots of the alfalfa plant. And although the alfalfa plant itself isn’t used for cooking because the mature leaves are bitter, the sprouts give the opposite effect. This versatile sprout is inexpensive and easy to grow.
In fact, it is better to grow them yourself through thoroughly disinfected seeds to avoid any food-borne illnesses such as E. coli, listeria, or salmonella. You can also heat them to kill any possible bacteria.
Alfalfa Sprouts Nutrition
Alfalfa sprouts provide plenty of nutrients. One cup, or 33 grams, of alfalfa sprouts only consists of 8 calories.
The two prominent vitamins in alfalfa sprouts are Vitamin K and Vitamin C. In that single serving, alfalfa sprouts contain 13% of your regular daily intake for Vitamin K, and 5% of Vitamin C.
Alfalfa sprouts also consist of copper, manganese, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, and magnesium, making up about 15% of your daily value.
A cup also contains 1 gram of protein and 1 gram of carbs which comes from dietary fiber.
To top it off, alfalfa generally has a high content of bioactive plant compounds, including saponins, coumarins, flavonoids, phytosterols, phytoestrogens, and alkaloids.
It may sound like a bunch of gibberish, but these are all positive nutrients!
Health Benefits of Alfalfa Sprouts
The main attraction is that alfalfa may help lower cholesterol. This is due to the high content of saponins in the sprout (see? I told you it was more than just a bunch of gibberish).
Other health benefits include improved metabolic health, relieving menopause symptoms, and antioxidant effects from the Vitamin C.
Since alfalfa is high in the plant compound phytoestrogens, which is chemically similar to the hormone estrogen, it can cause some of the same effects in the body as estrogen, helping to relieve menopause symptoms.
Many studies have been tested on animals and are still being tested on humans, so there’s not as much data on health benefits. However, there are many positive outcomes when testing on animals that it’s hopeful for future human testing containing the same results.
Uses for Alfalfa Sprouts
Similar to broccoli sprouts; it’s unlikely you’re going to eat handfuls of alfalfa sprouts without adding a little TLC to them. But there are ways to mask the sprout.
Alfalfa sprouts have been used in replacement of lettuce in sandwiches and can add a good crunch.
If you’d like to eat them warm, you can use them in stir fry and soups.
And if chewing it isn’t your cup of tea, you can quite literally turn it into a cup of tea. There are such things as alfalfa supplements that can be used in powder form to make tea or take as a tablet.
Alfalfa Sprouts vs Broccoli Sprouts – Taste & Texture
They may look the same, but how do you know which is which?
Broccoli sprouts have a fresh, mildly spicy taste that resembles the radish. And as shocking as this is, they do not taste anything like broccoli. I know…I was in disbelief too.
As for the alfalfa sprouts, they have a mild nutty flavor and are more mild than the broccoli sprout.
When it comes to the texture, they have similar features. Both sprouts are crunchy and will snap when biting into them.
Basically, broccoli and alfalfa sprouts are like twins. They look the same, but can have different personalities on the inside.
Alfalfa Sprouts vs Broccoli Sprouts – Which is Best?
There’s no denying the benefits that both sprout types bring to the table. Although similar in looks, they have their own unique value.
If you really had to decide on which sprout was your ultimate winner, consider which would be most beneficial to your diet.
However, if you’re feeling daring and have the chance to incorporate both into your lifestyle, I say do it. You may feel like a superhero with all the healthiness entering your body.