Shoots and Sprouts for Lower Cholesterol

by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Professional

Shoots are the young, green offspring of certain plants, while sprouts are germinated seeds or beans. Both can be used to enhance the flavor and texture of meals.

Popular sprouts include mung beans, wheat, radish, broccoli, and alfalfa.

Popular shoots include pea vines and bamboo.

Shoots and sprouts to lower cholesterol

Not only do shoots and sprouts add flavor and texture to meals, they also contribute needed nutrients. Bean sprouts are typically more calorie dense than seed sprouts, but they also contribute more protein.

Research into the health benefits of shoots and sprouts is limited. However, recent studies are examining the anticarcinogenic and antioxidant properties of sulforaphane, a compound in sprouts. There is up to 100 times more sulforaphane in broccoli sprouts than mature broccoli.

Animal studies have seen sulforaphane inhibit breast cancer steam cell and prostate tumor growth, while decreasing oxidative damage.

A small study found bamboo shoots to lower cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.

Purchasing shoots and sprouts

You can generally find a large selection of shoots and sprouts at your local farmers market or Asian supermarkets.

Look for shoots and sprouts that are plump and crisp. Avoid stringy, discolored, slimy, or limp shoots and sprouts.

Preparing foods with shoots and sprouts

It is ideal to use shoots and sprouts the same day they are purchased, but they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Remember to rinse in cool water before use.

Shoots and sprouts can be added to a sandwich, blended into fruit and vegetable juices, mixed into soups, or added to stir-fries.

You can also steam pea shoots with olive and garlic or include broccoli shoots as a nutritious pizza topping.

[Recipe Idea: Ginger-Glazed Grilled Carrot and Pea Shoot Salad]

Raw sprouts are more likely to contain bacteria and food pathogens. Avoid raw sprouts if you are pregnant, elderly, or serving children.

Rinsing sprouts does not always remove potentially dangerous bacteria, but thorough cooking can kill most of the bacteria.

Incorporating shoots and sprouts into your diet is just one way of many to promote heart health and lower cholesterol. Do you want to learn more ways to lower cholesterol? Try my free e-course!

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
Meet Our Writer
Lisa Nelson, RD, LN

Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so you can live life and enjoy your family for years to come. Lisa's passion for health comes from her own family history of heart disease, so she doesn't dispense trendy treatments; Lisa practices what she teaches in her own daily life. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques.