Sprouts represent a unique category of food. They are the young seed and shoots of grains, vegetables, herbs, or legumes. Typically eaten raw, they are generally very beneficial to the digestion. The biomedical explanation for this is the high enzymatic activity of these young plants. Chinese medicine considers sprouted foods to be useful for treating stagnant food (technically, they disperse food and abduct stagnation). The two primary sprouted foods used in Chinese medicine are barley sprouts (mai ya) and rice sprouts (gu ya), which disperse food and transform accumulation resulting from undigested grain. Hawthorne berries, while not a sprouted food, are also a common food item used to treat food stagnation arising from undigested meats.

Because they are so young and vital, sprouts also perish quickly. Sprouts and mushrooms are the two vegetable foods which need to be eaten quickly due to easy spoilage. The best way to avoid old sprouts is to sprout them yourself. Fresh sprouts are fun and easy to grow, last longer than store bought sprouts, and aid digestion through high enzymatic activity.