Bean sprouts are highly nutritious and bring many health benefits. In Asian countries, you can find many kinds of dishes that use bean sprouts, either they are raw or cooked.
However, eating raw bean sprouts might take some precautions as they may carry bacteria. Cooked bean sprouts, on the other hand, are much safer to eat.
Let’s look a little more closely at raw bean sprouts.
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Raw Bean Sprouts
In East Asia and South-East Asia, you might find several kinds of traditional salads with bean sprouts in them, either they are raw or cooked. In Thailand, people sometimes eat pho with raw bean sprouts.
People love the taste of raw bean sprouts because they are crunchy and have a unique fresh bitter taste that may elevate the flavor of the dish.
The raw bean sprouts themselves are okay. However, bear in mind that bean sprouts grow in a hot and humid environment, which is an ideal place for bacteria to live. Studies found that bean sprouts are one of the most effective places for bacteria to grow.
The statistic shows that raw bean sprouts are linked to food-poisoning issues caused by salmonella and E.coli. Hence, eating raw bean sprouts is not advisable for people with a vulnerable immune system such as toddlers and pregnant women.
How to Safely Eat Raw Bean Sprouts
Washing the bean sprouts is not enough to kill the bacteria they carry. However, if you want to eat raw food, you can try these tips to minimize the risk of food poisoning:
- If possible, buy the bean sprouts that are labeled “ready to eat”. These kinds of bean sprouts have been specially treated to make sure they don’t carry harmful bacteria.
- Make sure your immune system is good. Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with immunity disorders are better off avoiding raw bean sprouts.
- Wash your hands properly when handling the bean sprouts.
- Only buy fresh bean sprouts that are properly refrigerated to minimize the risk of bacteria growth.
- Keep your bean sprouts in the fridge until you are ready to eat them. But don’t keep them for too long. The fresher the bean sprouts the more tasty and safe they are to eat.
- Do not eat bean sprouts if they smell awful, look slimy, or mushy. Do not even cook such bean sprouts because they have gone bad.
How to Properly Cook Bean Sprouts
Health experts recommend for properly cooking your bean sprouts to make sure all the bacteria are dead when you eat the dish.
Because apparently, lightly cooking them is not enough to kill all the bacteria. But no worries, because bean sprouts do not take much time to cook.
Boiling the bean sprouts only takes about 90 seconds. Do not forget to rinse them off first with running cold water before cooking them. Drain the boiled bean sprouts using a colander to avoid them getting overcooked.
If you want to sauté the bean sprouts, use medium heat. Lightly stir the sprouts to make them cook evenly for about 3-5 minutes. Eat them while they are still warm.
Bean sprouts are quick to be cooked. If you overcook them, they will lose their crispness and become very soggy. It is also important to stir them often while on the stove. Otherwise, you would end up with partially overcooked bean sprouts and partially undercooked bean sprouts in one serving.
Nutrition of Bean Sprouts
As mentioned above, bean sprouts are a great food to promote your health. There are many ways that bean sprouts benefit our body, such as:
- Weight Loss: Bean sprouts are amazingly low in calories but are high in fibers. Hence, you can eat a lot of them to get your stomach full for a long time without worrying about your weight.
- Cardiovascular Health: Potassium is vital for heart muscle contraction and regulating blood pressure. Fibers are great to remove excess cholesterol in the blood vessel. Meanwhile, Vitamin K helps with blood clotting. Those nutrients are abundantly available on the bean sprouts.
- Rich in Iron: Iron is a vital nutrient that affects our bodies in many ways. It improves the body’s circulation, maintains bone density, and avoids the risk of anemia. Iron is also a vital element for the brain. In children, iron deficiency poses a huge risk of malnutrition and stunted growth.
- Mental Health: There is also a huge amount of vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium contained in bean sprouts. According to research, these nutrients are vital for mood balance and relieve stress. They also increase sleep quality, while lacking sleep is strongly linked to many mental issues.
- Skin Care: Bean sprouts are rich in vitamin E and C, which are essential for skin cell regeneration. They also contain many antioxidants to improve skin elasticity, avoid wrinkles, and clear up blemishes. Including bean sprouts on your meal bring many benefits to your body. Raw bean sprouts are okay to eat if your immune system works optimally. But if you are unsure about it, it is better to cook them properly.
Also read: delicious bean sprout recipes you can make