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Bean Sprouts are
a Wonder Veggie
 Bean sprouts are vegetables made from sprouting beans. On top of the nutritional value of the beans themselves, through sprouting the bean sprouts acquire the further nutritional value of Vitamin C, as well as an increase in Aspartic Acid. Thus, while sprouts have a high amount of water content, they are also high in nutritional value as well. At the same time, sprouting makes the vegetable easier to digest. Bean sprouts are truly a Wonder Veggie to attract widespread attention.

 Bean sprouts have a surprisingly long history. They can be written in Chinese characters, and in Japan, they appear in the first dictionary of herbs, Honzou Wamyou, written in the Heian period (794 – 1185). In the Edo period (1603 – 1868), dried black bean sprouts were boiled and used as medication. It was not until the late Meiji era (1868 – 1912), when bean sprouts were first cultivated and distributed for use in Chinese cuisine, that bean sprouts came to be consumed as they are today. And, gradually, they came to be eaten in the household as well.

 Bean sprouts can now be stably produced in factories and distributed, and are thus known as inexpensive vegetables. Furthermore, they can be grown without the use of chemicals, and are also attracting notice as a low-calorie, healthy food.
3 Types of Bean Sprouts  There are three types of sprouts, sprouted from beans, currently cultivated, produced and distributed: green matpe (mung bean sprouts), black matpe, and soy bean sprouts.

Green matpe is the most common type of sprout, made from sprouting mung beans, an ingredient also used for bean-starch vermicelli.

 The black matpe sprout, as its name suggests, is the sprout of a small black bean. In comparison to mung bean sprouts, these sprouts are thinner and have a strong, crisp texture. At the same time, they are a bit sweeter and are slightly weaker in the distinct odor that bean sprouts have. In Japan, they are used more frequently in the Kansai area.

 The soy bean sprout is a sprout of soy beans, with a large bean attached to it. Soy bean sprouts are relatively heavy and filling, full of flavor, and rich in nutrition. They are especially known for their use in namul (a Korean dish of seasoned vegetables).

 At the same time, at Owani hot springs in Aomori Prefecture, soy bean sprouts that measure more than 30 centimeters, the “Owani Onsen (hot springs) bean sprouts,” are cultivated using the heat from the hot springs. These sprouts have been cultivated in the winter since the Edo period.

 On the other hand, sprouts of vegetables commonly known as “sprouts” can also be included in the bean sprout category. Various sprouts, including the now familiar “kaiware radish sprout,” and the “broccoli sprout,” “buckwheat sprout,” “cress sprout,” “red cabbage sprout,” “mustard sprout,” “pea sprout (sprout of green peas),”and “alfalfa,” are currently being cultivated and distributed.

 There has also been attention placed on the functional food aspect of sprouts such as, for instance, the anticancer effect of broccoli sprouts. The sprouts of various vegetables are currently under production, and the bean sprout family is still continuing to grow.
Bean Sprouts are Healthy!  Bean sprouts are low in calorie, even in comparison to other vegetables. Because they are high in water content, crisp in texture, heavy and filling, and can be eaten without the worry of overeating, bean sprouts are perfect for dieting.

 At the same time, bean sprouts are rich in dietary fibers. Because most of these dietary fibers are insoluble, they absorb water in the stomach and expand, increasing the activity of and detoxicating the large intestine.

 While Vitamin C produced during the sprouting of the bean sprouts is water-soluble and weak against heat, because bean sprouts require little cooking time, this nutrient can be effectively taken in soup dishes.

 Aspartic acid, a type of amino acid, also increases during the sprouting process. Aspartic acid, known to be contained in asparagus, is a nutrient effective for relieving fatigue. Bean sprouts also contain Vitamin B1, effective in metabolizing sugars.
Tips to Using Bean Sprouts in Recipes  It is best to cook bean sprouts for a short amount of time. This is because bean sprouts lose their nutrients as well as their texture during cooking.

 It is common to boil bean sprouts and use them in combination with other vegetables (aemono dishes), but a helpful tip here is to add a little oil when boiling the sprouts, in order to raise the temperature of the water and make it possible to cook the sprouts in a short amount of time. Furthermore, if cooling the sprouts after they are boiled, it is better to lay them out to cool as opposed to running them under water, in order to avoid the nutrient and flavor from running out along with the water.

 Bean sprouts come with small rootlets. If you have a little more time, removing these rootlets will make the sprouts less stringy and better their texture. “Rootless sprouts” are also sold in the market, so buying these is also highly recommended.