Interest in sprouts as a human food has a long history. Chinese and ancient Egyptians, thousands of years ago, consumed sprouts as a healthy food, especially for healing and rejuvenation. Sprouting is a process widely used to improve the nutritional value of legumes and grain seeds. Recently, sprouts have become a popular health food in the United States and other Western countries. Numerous studies have demonstrated that sprouts are one of the most complete and nutritious foods (Bau et al., 1997; Kaur and Kawatra, 2002; Lorenz, 1980; Yang et al., 2001). Sprouts are considered a predigested food with higher biological efficiency values and lower levels of antiphysiological factors than raw or cooked seeds (Balasaraswathi and Sadasivam, 1997; Chung et al., 1989). Sprouts have been observed to contribute extensively to the immune system as excellent detoxificants (Andarwulan et al., 1999; Yang et al., 2001).
Sprouts from seeds of Cruciferae plants such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower (Brassica sp.) are rich in essential nutrients. In addition, they contain substantial quantities of the glucoside-aglycone sulforaphane or 4-methylsulfinylbutyl isothiocyanate, which are very potent inducers of detoxication enzymes and as strong cancer chemopreventive phytochemicals (Chu and Jeffery, 2001; Fahey et al., 1997; Murillo and Mehta, 2001) However, little is known about the nutritional characteristics of canola sprouts. The term “Canola” is a registered trademark of the Canadian Canola Association and refers to cultivars of oilseed rapeseed (Brassica napus L. and B. rapa L.) that produce seed oils with less than 2% erucic acid and meals with less than 30 μmol of aliphatic glucosinolates per gram (Raymer, 2001). Current canola varieties are essentially free of erucic acid and glucosinolates.
The consumer demand and consumption of canola oil in the United States are increasing as a result of its lowest content of saturated fatty acids (5% to 8%) and moderate content of poly unsaturated fatty acids. However, domestic canola production meets only a small portion of this demand. Research conducted in the mid-Atlantic region has demonstrated that canola can be easily produced in this region and may have an economic advantage over winter wheat. This research has developed suitable germplasm and a production system (Starner et al., 1996, 2002). The efforts to establish canola as an alternate winter crop in this region are hindered by lack of processing facilities. Therefore, development of alternative uses of canola such as on-farm use or development of easily marketable products such as sprouts could help alleviate this problem indirectly by establishing the crop and indirectly helping to increase the availability of this crop as an oilseed.
The objectives of these studies were to determine fresh yield and nutritional quality traits of canola sprouts and to assess the potential of canola sprouts by comparing their composition with literature values of alfalfa, brussel sprouts, mungbean, and radish sprouts.
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