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posted: 7/28/2011 12:01 AM

Beans, not their sprouts, protein powerhouses

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Q. If beans like kidney and garbanzo beans are good sources of protein, does this include bean sprouts?

A. No. A half-cup of mung bean sprouts supplies only 1 to 2 grams of protein. A half-cup serving of most dried beans supplies about 7 grams of protein, about equal to the protein in one ounce of meat or poultry.

Enjoy sprouts for the crunch they add to salads and stir-fries, but don't rely on them as a source of protein or minerals for a "meatless meal."

The FDA has issued health advisories about eating raw sprouts due to occasional illness from E. coli or Salmonella. Raw sprouts pose the most danger to children, the elderly and others with weaker immune systems. Sprouts that have been thoroughly cooked do not seem to pose a risk.

Q. What should I look for when purchasing papaya?

A. Great choice! Papayas, which are extremely high in vitamin C, also provide lots of beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin (another carotenoid), folate, magnesium and potassium. These sweet fruits can differ widely in size, shape, and color the flesh inside may be yellow, pinkish-orange or red.

Because of these color differences, it's difficult to judge ripeness by color. Instead, look for a papaya that gives slightly to palm pressure without being too soft. If needed, ripen the fruit at room temperature. Store ripe papaya in the refrigerator for up to a week.

The cluster of small black seeds in the center cavity is edible, though most people discard them.

Serve chunks of papaya in a fruit plate, added to a green salad or as a topping for chicken or fish. It's also great chopped with some cilantro and sweet red pepper for a flavorful fruit salsa.

Provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Learn more about the group and its New American Plate Program at