Sprouted Legumes Characteristics

sprouted legumes

1. Legumes

The term “legume” refers to plants whose fruit is enclosed in a shell, while legumes are a subgroup of the legume family and include only dried seeds. Legumes such as lentils, peas and chickpeas are important sources of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals and are widely consumed. Considered as a sustainable and inexpensive meat alternative worldwide, legumes are among the most economically important crops after cereals. Therefore, sprouted legumes are of great importance.

What Are Dried Legumes?

Kidney beans, peas, cowpeas, beans, red lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, green lentils are the main legumes.

1.1. Some Positive Effects of Legumes on Human Health

The content of legumes, which does not contain potassium, magnesium, soluble fiber (excreted by fecal route as pulp) and cholesterol, constitutes an important element of adequate and balanced nutrition. It is reported that daily legume consumption has the effect of reducing LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, blood pressure, body weight, glycemic index (GI) and insulin resistance. In this respect, some of the functions that legumes acquire due to their regular consumption are listed below:

  • Reducing the risk of prostate and breast cancer, respectively, thanks to the phytoestrogen and flavonol, flavone, isoflavone-derived components it contains,
  • It has a protective effect against the formation of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in unborn babies,
  • Supports the treatment of jaundice, toothache, ulcers and musculoskeletal problems,
  • Limits the occurrence of type 2 diabetes due to its high fiber content, low glycemic index and presence of potential bioactive compounds including lignans.
  • Thanks to its antimicrobial nature, it can inhibit food-borne Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella spp., Staphylococcus aureus and some nosocomial pathogens,

It is one of the benefits revealed by the literature [1].

1.2. Anti-nutrient Compositions of Legumes

In addition to the elements (dietary fiber, low fat content, high protein, minerals), which are effective in promoting the consumption of legumes and whose benefits are known, components called anti-nutrients are also included in the structure. These; are non-nutritive bioactive compounds such as isoflavones, lignans, protease inhibitors, trypsin and chymotrypsin inhibitors, saponins, alkaloids, phytoestrogens and especially phytates.

Although they are not toxic, they interfere with protein digestibility (indigestion) and the bioavailability (absorption) of some minerals, producing adverse physiological effects. Anti-nutrients, which are generally heat-labile, can be detoxified by dehulling, soaking, boiling, steaming, sprouting, roasting, and fermentation before processing [1]. With a simple and common example, soaking the dried beans in water for 4-8 hours before cooking both reduces the amount of anti-nutrients such as tannin and phytate and shortens the cooking time.

2. Edible Germinated Sprouts

The germination methods of grains and especially legumes date back to ancient times. It is known that the Turks made sweets called ugut and azık with germinated wheat when they lived in Central Asia, that germinated grains were consumed as food in China about 5000 years ago, and legume grasses were used in the treatment of sailors who caught scurvy during their travels in the 1700s [2]. ].

Edible germinated sprouts are defined as foods that are handled by germinating plants and seeds at certain times and temperatures. Germination is the stage of transformation of live seeds that have reached morphological and physiological maturity into seedlings or saplings. When grains and legumes are germinated; They turn into important functional foods by increasing their antioxidant, dietary fiber, vitamin, mineral, flavonoid, phenolic substance, β-glucan and vitamin contents. Protein and protein digestibility also increase. Seed sprouts have higher nutrient levels and lower amounts of anti-nutrients, making them nutritionally superior.

As mentioned above, phytic acid binds minerals, making them inaccessible for metabolism. In addition, phenolic compounds or their oxidized products form complexes with essential amino acids, enzymes and other proteins, impairing the nutritional quality of foods. Because of these negative properties, phytic acids are not preferred in the structure. Germination-induced reduction in the amount of phytic acid, which is considered an anti-nutritional factor, is of great importance in making legume sprouting popular in terms of diet. Plants that are germinated and consumed as sprouts; seeds such as soy, rye, rice, peas, beans, quinoa, sorghum, chickpeas, wheat, barley, oats, lentils, buckwheat, mung beans, alfalfa, broccoli, radish, cabbage, onion, corn, fenugreek, broad bean [3] .

Figure 1. Time dependent sprouting process of green lentils

It can be said that sprouting is beneficial because it increases the concentration of nutrients and decreases the concentration of non-nutrients.

2.1. Nutritional Changes for Sprouted Legumes

Studies on the changes and transformations in the nutritional values and content of sprouted Legumes are listed below [3].

  • It turned out that 2 days of germination of peas significantly improves the palatability and nutritional properties of proteins and carbohydrates. When the biological components of controlled germinated soybean and wheat seeds are examined, it is known that the vitamin, mineral and phytoestrogen levels of these products increase and their nutritional values ​​are higher compared to fresh products (Urbano et al., 2015).
  • It is seen that the phenolic substance and antioxidant values ​​of germinated and germinated seeds of mung bean, clover, fava, fenugreek, mustard, wheat, broccoli, sunflower, soybean, radish, cabbage, lentil and onion seeds increase significantly with germination (Casal and Zevallos, 2010). .
  • Again, in a study in which mung beans were germinated and the nutritional change was examined, it can be deduced that consuming mung bean sprouts would be beneficial for health, since the vitamin C content and total minerals of mung beans increased significantly with the germination process (Vayupharp and Laksanalamai, 2013).
  • It is understood that the germination of chickpea, cowpea, soybean increases the oil content, moisture value, ash amount, fiber content and mineral substances such as Ca, Mg, Zn and Fe in these products.

2.2. Microbial Safety for Sprouted Legumes

Edible sprouts, which are traditionally produced at home and have been subject to international trade in recent years, are included in the class of minimally processed foods and are not subjected to any disinfection during the production process. Bacteria on the seed surface enter the inner part of the seed during germination, consumers do not cook the sprouts before eating them, and even if they wash the sprouts, the washing process is insufficient to remove pathogens and spoilage microorganisms, making the sprouts microbiologically risky [4]. While the elimination of the existing micro-organismal load with the use of techniques such as treatment with different chemicals and irradiation is the right option for commercial crops, the risk remains for home sprouted legumes.

3. How Can I Sprout Lentils?

  • Put the dried lentils in a jar. Add water and leave overnight. Remember that the lentils will almost triple in size at the end, so make sure your container is big enough. Use about 2/3 cup of dried lentils per 1 quart jar. Instead of an airtight lid on the jar, secure it to the lid with an odorless and drug-free bandage, a food cap, or a clean cheesecloth with a rubber band.
  • Empty the water in the jar, change the cloth and leave the jar on the counter out of direct sunlight. Every 12 hours, add water to the jar, swirl and pour the sparkling water back out.
  • After you start to see small queues within 24-36 hours, you can extend this process up to 4 days depending on your preference.
  • When you’re finished, spread them out on a paper towel to dry a little, and then store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Consume quickly considering its short shelf life.


[1] Atalay, E., Gokbulut, I. (2021). Legumes: Functional Properties, Health Effects and Potential Use. Academic Food, 19(4): 442-449.

[2] Kilincer, F.N., Demir, M.K. (2019). Physical and Chemical Properties of Some Germinated Grains and Legumes. FOOD, 44(3): 419-429.

[3] Hayıt F., Gül H. (2021). Use of Germinated Grains and Legumes in Bakery Products and Their Effects on Product Quality. Elec Lett Sci Eng, 17(2): 63-75.

[4] H. Yetim, F. Törnuk, İ. Öztürk, O. Sağdıç (2010). Microbial Safety of Edible Seed Sprouts. Akademik Gıda, 8(2): 18-23.

Sprouted Legumes

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