What are you made of? No, this isn’t a sportswear slogan or motivational battlecry – we mean literally…what is your body made out of? You may already know that our human bodies are more than 60% water, but what’s the other 40%? If we’re talking about molecules, then the other elements are protein, fat, carbs, DNA & something called hydroxyapatite (bone mineral).
Protein is an especially important compound in our bodies, and one that is most obviously physicalized in things like muscles, bones, organs, skin and nails. If proteins are pillars of our bodies, what are the building blocks of proteins? Amino acids.
What Can Amino Acids Do For Me?
If you’re like us, you keep a bottle of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos on hand at all times. You may even dabble in Coconut Aminos, touted as a healthy substitute for soy sauce and currently quite trendy. But did you know that sprouts are one of the few foods in the vegetable kingdom packed with essential amino acids?
Sprouting seeds increases their protein content considerably, and therefore their amino acid power. Sprouts are remarkably packed with these body building blocks considering their small size. Talk about bang for your protein buck! Inside of these proteins, amino acids are bonded by peptides bonds, and thus forming a chain of aminos.
There are 20 amino acids but only 9 considered ‘essential’. These essential acids are ones that our bodies are unable to make on our own, and therefore imperative to find through our food choices. Ready to meet them?
Amino Roll Call!
This long list of amino acids can add up to feel like a chemistry quiz — and the names aren’t the easiest to remember. Even though there’s no end-of-semester test, we’re here to give you the SparkNotes version for the nine essentials because they are that important for your health:
- Phenylalanine is invaluable to the structure and function of enzymes, proteins and making other amino acids
- Valine helps energy production and repair/grow muscles
- Threonine is a vital component of elastin & collagen, helping to metabolise fats and regulate your immune system
- Tryptophan isn’t just in turkey! It helps balance nitrogen and regulates sleep, mood and appetite
- Methionine helps metabolize and detox, helping to absorb minerals and boost tissue growth
- Leucine helps suynthesise proteins and repair things like injuries, muscles and boost growth hormones
- Isoleucine is big in the ‘muscle’ world. It works to metabolize, regulate energy and produce hemoglobin
- Lysine enables calcium absorption, energy, collagen and elastin production
- Histidine produces histamine, a neurotransmitter that is in charge of immune responses, sleep cycles, sexual and digestive functions.
Why Sprouts Rule
Germination increases amino acid growth, peaking usually between days 5 and 9 of your sprouting cycle. With a little water, time and care you can supercharge your amino intake without batting an eye. If you regularly consume animal products like eggs, cheese and meat then you’re likely getting a good amount of aminos. If you want to go greener and cleaner in your diet and still get the essential nine you need, then vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains are the way to go. Tofu, peanuts, lentils and wheat germ are obvious choices, but a person can only eat so much. Punch up your salads, steamy side dishes, smoothies and scrambles with added sprouts to build your body up. Check out the tables below for some hard facts on aminos in sprouts!
Amino Content of Sprouts vs. Greens
|*mg/ 100 g portion*||Threonine||Isoleucine||Leucine||Lysine||Valine|
|Alfalfa & Radish Sprouts||134||143||267||214||145|
|Lettuce & Spinach||53||75||70||75||62|
Amino Content of Wheat & Oat Sprouts
|*mg/ 100 g portion*||Arginine||A. Acid||G. Acid||Leucine||Lysine||Methionine||Threonine||Tyrosine||Valine|
How’s your body feeling today? Ready to fuel up? Grab a bag of Alfalfa seeds, get to sprouting and check off all nine aminos for the day. As always, eat well and stay sproutful!