Microgreens from the word micro are simply minute green vegetables. They have currently been gaining attention and soon will be considered superfood. Their health benefits and versatility explain everything.
Microgreens were first introduced in the 1980s in a certain restaurant in California, and since then their popularity has spread like a bush fire. They are also referred to as vegetable confetti or micro herbs. With their nice aroma they are perfectly good at adding a rich flavor and color to any dish they are used in. Even with their small size, they still have a rich nutritional profile and deliver more nutrients than many mature vegetables. This article will show the health benefits of microgreens and how to grow them.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are immature green vegetables that are usually grown to the height of two and seven centimeters. They are loaded with beneficial nutrients and often come in different colors. Cooking with them leaves an aromatic flavor in your food. Microgreens should not be confused with sprouts, as sprouts technically have no leaves. Another key difference between sprouts and microgreens is that the growing cycle of sprouts is short, usually lasting between two and seven days, while microgreens are often harvested between seven and twenty-one days after germinating. So long as the first true leaves have come out, the harvesting of microgreens begins.
Compared to baby greens, only the stems and leaves of microgreens are eaten. However, their size is much smaller than that of baby greens and they can sometimes be sold before they are reaped. Growing microgreens is considerably easier and convenient, as you can grow them in a greenhouse or outdoor.
Different Varieties of Microgreens
You can use different varieties of seeds to grow microgreens. The most marketed varieties are grown from seeds of the following family of plants:
Amaranthaceae family: In this family, you can use the seeds of quinoa, amaranth, spinach, beet, and Swiss chard.
Use the seeds of leek, onion, or garlic.
You can use the seeds of carrot, dill, celery, or fennel.
Use the seeds of endive, lettuce, radicchio, or chicory.
Are the most popular and you can use the seeds of cabbage, arugula, cauliflower, radish, broccoli, or watercress.
Usually the seeds of squash, melon, or cucumber can do better.
In addition, some cereals, such as oats, wheat, rice, corn, barley, and legumes, including beans, lentils, and chickpeas, can sometimes be grown into microgreens. The taste of microgreens varies depending on the variety of seeds used, ranging from bitter to sour, spicy to neutral.
Microgreens Are Highly Nutritious
Microgreens are loaded with beneficial nutrients. Nearly all varieties contain high amounts of iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and magnesium. Microgreens are also high in antioxidants. Generally speaking, microgreen’s nutrient content is concentrated in that they are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals than full-grown greens of the same quantity. According to research, microgreens are so concentrated with nutrients,which is up to nine times that of mature greens. It is also speculated that their polyphenol and antioxidant variety content is much wider than that of their fully grown counterparts. A study compared the antioxidant level of 25 different microgreens with those of mature greens recorded in the database of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It was found that the levels of antioxidants and vitamins in microgreens were up to forty times higher than those of mature greens recorded in USDA. Other studies, however, yielded conflicting results. It is, therefore, worth to note that the difference in nutrient levels between microgreens and mature greens greatly depends on the species used.
Health Benefits of Microgreens
Research have consistently shown that eating vegetables can significantly reduce your risk of several diseases. This is because vegetables contain high amounts of powerful plant compounds, vitamins, and minerals. Microgreens are loaded with the same but greater amounts of the mentioned nutrients than fully-grown greens. Keeping that in mind, microgreens may help reduce the risk of the following diseases:
Alzheimer’s disease: This is one of the most common neurological diseases. While it mostly affects the old, the young are also at risk. Including foods rich in antioxidants, like microgreens provides high amounts of polyphenols that may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Heart disease: Is the leading cause of deaths worldwide. Eating microgreens boosts your polyphenol levels, a powerful antioxidant that has been associated with reduced risk of heart disease. Studies suggest that microgreens can significantly reduce the levels of triglycerides and “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which are important for the development of heart disease.
Diabetes: High sugar, increased insulin resistance, and reduced insulin sensitivity characterizes it. Antioxidants have been shown to have the ability of increasing the sensitivity of cells to the signals of insulin. Microgreens grown from fenugreek seeds were found to contain powerful antioxidants that could increase cellular insulin sensitivity by up to 44%.
Certain types of cancer: Uncontrolled growth of cells is a characteristic of cancer. Fortunately, fruits and vegetables, like microgreens rich in polyphenol antioxidants, may reduce the risk of different types of cancer. Studies suggest that they inhibit the growth of tumor and cancer cells, as well as initiating apoptosis, which is programmed death of cancer cells.
Side Effects of Eating Microgreens
There is no reported side effects of eating microgreens. However, it is thought that microgreens may predispose one to food poisoning, but this cannot be compared to that of sprouts, as the chances for bacterial growth in these greens are very narrow. They are grown in conditions that hardly permits bacterial growth. Remember that only the leaves and stems of microgreens are edible and not the roots. If you are planning to grow them at home, it will be best to use perlite or vermiculite as a growing medium, as bacteria hardly grow in them.
Microgreens are small, usually considered immature green vegetables, that have incredible health benefits. They are loaded with antioxidants like polyphenols that reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, among other health benefits
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