Which sprouts are toxic?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question, “Which sprouts are toxic?’’. We will discuss why these sprouts are toxic and if there are any risks of eating them.

Which sprouts are toxic?

Alfalfa sprouts, legumes, and an inedible variety of chickpea sprouts are toxic. They contain chemicals that can be toxic in large quantities. However, most sprouts are not toxic when they are eaten in small quantities.

Are chickpea sprouts toxic?

There is an inedible variety of chickpea that is in fact toxic. Edible chickpeas are not toxic. They are very healthy.

Lathyrogen toxin is present in a variety of inedible chickpeas. It is thought to be the cause of the disease lathyrism. Lathyrism is a condition that causes paralysis in the legs in people who are vulnerable to it. It is thought to be caused by a poisonous amino acid. This may sound frightening, but it isn’t since Lathyrus peas aren’t edible. 

Only the seeds of certain Lathyrus species contain the poison. This toxin is not found in edible peas and beans. Lathyrism outbreaks in India have been linked to consuming huge amounts of inedible beans without sufficient preparation. It’s safe to eat if it’s well-cooked. However, because it is an inedible species, it should not be a concern to humans.

Are alfalfa sprouts toxic?

Alfalfas are toxic only if you eat an extremely large quantity at once. Here’s what makes alfalfa sprouts toxic/ Alfalfa sprouts contain a chemical called canavanine. 

A very large quantity of canavanine can cause lupus-like anemia in some individuals in very high, toxic doses due to a change in red blood cells. 

The small amounts found in the food are entirely insignificant and harmless. At high enough doses, almost all chemicals can cause toxicity. At high enough doses, zinc, iron, and vitamin A will all be toxic. So, just as you wouldn’t stop eating any other meal because of a minor toxin, don’t stop eating alfalfa sprouts. Many protective compounds, as well as Vitamin C and folic acid, are abundant in them.

Are legumes toxic?

Yes, legumes have certain chemicals that make them toxic when eaten in large quantities. 

Saponins are a type of chemical that can be found in legumes and sprouts. Saponins are an example of a beneficial chemical, labeled as toxic one. Only in vitro are they harmful to red blood cells. Saponins appear to have an antioxidant effect as well.

The only toxins that have been identified in relation to the sprouts of other edible legumes are those labeled as anti-nutrients. These are substances that bind to nutrients and prevent them from being absorbed. 

None of these antinutrients are a concern with adequate soaking and germination. Because antinutrients are leached into the soak water, soaking alone results in a big reduction in antinutrients.

These anti-nutrients are useful in small levels and can be called a normal part of our dietary system.

How to safely sprout seeds at home?

You can grow your own sprouts at home with the proper safety measures.

Here’s how to safely make sprouts at home

  • Wash your hands properly each time you handle seeds or sprouts.
  • After you’ve soaked your seeds, scrape off any floating debris.
  • Rinse your seeds/sprouts thoroughly clean water, regardless of the sprouting method you employ. Rinsing the sprouts at least twice a day is recommended, but three to four times is best. 
  • Keeping the seeds/sprouts moist allows them to germinate, and frequent rinsing helps keep bacteria at bay.
  • After each rinse, drain your seeds/sprouts completely. Rinsing is essential for safety. Standing water can cause a variety of problems.
  • Before rinsing, break apart the sprouts with a clean fork as they grow.
  • Give your sprouts a last rinse in a clean basin once they’ve fully matured. Remove any remaining floaters or non-sprout material with a clean fork or your clean hands.
  • Get rid of any excess water. Use a fine mesh salad spinner or a clean paper towel to dry sprouts.
  • Before you begin sprouting and after every use, wash your sprouting plate after each usage.

What are the tips to removing toxins from sprouts?

Sprouts are safe to eat. If you are worried about toxins, there are a few ways to make sure to reduce/wash off the toxins before eating them.

  • Wash the sprouts before eating. It is a good idea to wash both homegrown and store-bought sprouts.
  • Soak the sprouts in water or blanch them for a few minutes. This will make any harmful toxins to leach out into the water. 
  • Lightly cook the sprouts. The heat will kill most pathogenic bacteria and deactivate certain toxins, if they are present.

Other FAQs about Sprouts that you may be interested in.

Can dogs eat sprouts?


In this brief guide, we answered the question, “Which sprouts are toxic?’’. We also discussed why these sprouts are toxic and if there are any risks of eating them.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.