In the "Harry Potter" books, Professor Pomona Sprout is Harry's instructor in an herbology class where he learns how to care for magic herbs and fungi. And Pomona blossoms in "Deathly Hallows," as she rises to the challenge of defending Hogwarts against an attack by the Death Eaters.
Clearly, sprouts can do a lot. When they're the fresh, young greens from beans, peas, vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds, they dish up a robust mix of nutrients, including vitamins A, B, C and K, folic acid, the beneficial phytochemical sulforaphane, and minerals such as phosphorus and magnesium. They're great added to salads, stir-fries, cold fish dishes and smoothies.
But there's been a lot of news about them delivering food borne illnesses. From 1996 to July 2016, there were 46 reported outbreaks of food borne illness in the U.S. linked to sprouts - causing 2,474 illnesses, 187 hospitalizations and three deaths.
So is it safer to grow them at home than to buy them at a grocery store or farmers market? According to the Cleveland Clinic, most outbreaks of sprout-related food borne illness are associated with contaminated seeds, so home-grown sprouts aren't safer. The surest way to dodge problems, the Clinic says, is to cook them by stir-frying, steaming or boiling, although they do lose their texture and some nutrients that way. Other smart moves:
- Store them in your fridge at or below 40 degrees.
- Wash your hands before and after handling.
- Rinse 'em well before using them.
- Never eat slimy, smelly or musty sprouts; throw them out.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.