Flashback Friday: Cooked Beans Or Sprouted Beans?

“Cooked Beans or Sprouted Beans?” Beans, chickpeas, split peas,
and lentils are packed with nutrients, and play a role in the
prevention of chronic disease, but most can’t
be eaten raw. Boiling is the most
common cooking method, which is what’s used
to make canned beans, but sprouting is
becoming more popular. Which is healthier? There hadn’t been a head-to-head comparisons…
until now. The easiest way to compare is to just measure
the quantity of polyphenol phytonutrients thought to account for some of their protective
benefits against chronic disease, for example the anthocyanin pigments that
make these particular beans so pretty. As you can see, sprouted beans have
more of some, but less than others. In fact, you see that across the board
with the other phenolic phytonutrients. More of some,
less of others. Because the positive effects of these compounds
may be related to their antioxidant capacity, you can compare the overall antioxidant
power of boiled versus sprouted beans, for which boiled appeared
to have a marginal edge, but ideally we’d actually
measure physiological effects, like what about boiled versus
sprouted against cancer cells. And that’s just
what they did. This is the concentration
of raw bean extract needed to cut the breast cancer growth
rate in half in a petri dish. Boiled beans do
about 40 times better. Same cancer growth inhibition at
just a fraction of the concentration, and sprouted beans
do about the same. Now you can’t even
eat most beans raw, but I wanted to include them just
to show you a fascinating phenomenon. No amount of raw bean extract appears able to
totally stop the growth of breast cancer cells, but just a small amount of cooked
or sprouted beans can. And same thing with actually
killing off cancer. No amount of raw bean
extract works, but both boiled and
sprouted beans can. Similar results were found for melanoma,
processing the beans— either cooking or sprouting boosted
anticancer activity in vitro, but against kidney cancer,
raw and boiled worked, but sprouted didn’t at all. The researchers were also
interested in brain protection. Given that elderly persons
reporting always eating legumes may be significantly less likely to
experience cognitive decline, the researchers decided to compare the protective
effects of boiled versus sprouted beans on astrocytes. Astrocytes are the most abundant
type of cell in our brain. They are star-shaped cells that
keep our brain running smoothly. Should they become damaged, though, they may play an important role in the
development in neurodegenerative disorders, like Lou Gehrig’s disease,
Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s. So if we’re thinking clearly,
we should thank our lucky stars. To see if beans would help protect
astrocytes from damage, first they had to make sure bean
extracts don’t cause any damage. This is the before, dripping nothing on
astrocytes in a petri dish, 100% viability. And this is the after,
adding boiled bean extract. Didn’t hurt the cells at all. And sprouted beans seem to even
help them grow a little bit. Same thing but this time we’re
going to damage the astrocytes with an oxidative chemical that killed off
about a quarter of the cells. But with some boiled
bean extract on board the astrocytes were protected
at the two higher doses, but the sprouted beans didn’t
appear to offer significant benefit. So what’s the takeaway? As far as I’m concerned, we should eat beans
in whichever way will get us to eat the most of them. I do love my lentil sprouts, one of the healthiest
snacks on the planet (along with kale chips). It’s amazing that I can create fresh produce
in about 2 to 3 days on my kitchen counter. Sprouting is like
gardening on steroids! But using canned beans I can get similar
nutrition in about 2 to 3 seconds.
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