Because of fairly recent warnings by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), regarding salmonella or E. coli outbreaks, people who are immunocompromised may want to avoid sprouts, but for everyone else sprouts are a wonderful source of nutrition when—as with all foods—they are properly handled and washed.
Sprouts contain the entire complement of glucosionolates normally contained in whole mature plants, which are then converted to healthy metabolites within the body. But in sprouts, these are highly concentrated so that an average package of sprouts may contain as much, or more, nutrition than 4000 mature plants.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, broccoli sprouts offer from 30 to 50 times the concentration of cancer-fighting indol-3-carbinole of mature broccoli. This is a compound which is especially protective against hormone-dependent cancers such as those of the breast and prostate. Broccoli sprouts are also a significant source of sulforaphane.
According to a Stanford University study published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, sulforaphane is the most potent known inducer of phase-2 enzymes, which have been shown to arrest human colon cancer and reduce the size and frequency of tumors in lab rats.
Alfalfa sprouts possess phytochemicals know as saponins which bind to cholesterol and prevent it from being reabsorbed by the body. Saponins are also thought to have an antimicrobial effect within the human body and to interfere with the growth and division of cancer cells.