What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs. Easy to grow and with appealing flavor and texture, microgreens are more rich in nutrients than their fully grown counterparts.
Reason #1- Availability!
Microgreens are easy to sow and ready to harvest in about 5-10 day. What you need is a flat shallow container, soil, some sunlight (artificial plant lights work too!) and water. Microgreens can be grown indoors at any time of year so you can get a nutrient-dense green fix even when greens are not available. Sounds like an easy task, isn't it? Now, let's take a closer look at what health benefits these pretty green leaves can give us.
Reason #2 - Microgreens Have More Vitamins than Mature Vegetables
Source of Phylloquinone (Vitamin K1)
Microgreens, especially those in bright green and red color, are rich in phylloquinone known as vitamin K1. Phylloquinone is responsible for blood clotting and takes part in a bone formation process.
For instance, garnet amaranth microgreens contain 4.1 micrograms of vitamin K1 per gram of fresh weight when matured counterpart has 1.4 micrograms of vitamin K1 per gram of fresh weight (Uyory, Liangli, & Wang, 2018).
Source of Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)
Humans are not capable of producing vitamin C and therefore should obtain it from the diet. But why is it so important for us? Vitamin C has many functions and some of them are collagen synthesis (protein of skin, bones, tendons), the production of neurotransmitters ("signals" in the nervous system) and hormones, and most importantly - vitamin C is an important antioxidant in the body.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, microgreens contain 6 times more of vitamin C than their mature greens. Red cabbage and garnet amaranth are leading stars here (Uyory et al., 2018). So adding microgreens to your diet is a great way to boost vitamin C intake.
Source of Beta-Carotene
Don’t let green color deceive you! If you perform an extraction of pigments from any green leafy vegetable you will find out that there are yellow and orange pigments that are part of beta-carotene. Beta-Carotene is a pre-vitamin A responsible for our eye health and many other physiological functions. Such microgreens as red sorrel, cilantro, cabbage are your picks here (Uyory et al., 2018).
Source of Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
Tocopherol or vitamin E comes in 4 different forms with alpha-tocopherol being the most bioavailable form and gamma-tocopherol being the most abundant in our diet. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant beneficial for vision, cardiovascular and neurological health. Microgreens such as green daikon, cilantro, opal radish can provide more than 50 mg of vitamin E per 100 grams of fresh weight (Uyory et al., 2018).
Reason #3 - Microgreens are a good Source of Minerals
20 grams of microgreens may easily fulfil your daily intake of Chromium, a mineral that plays an important role in glucose control. In addition, eating microgreens will provide you with other minerals that are responsible for various physiological processes in the body: Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Zinc, Copper, Magnesium, Calcium, Phosphorus (Lenzi, Orlandini, & Bulgari, 2019).
Reason #4 - Microgreens Are a Source of Polyphenols
Polyphenols are chemical compounds that play a protective role in prevention of chronic diseases and support of a healthy gut. Some studies show that, when absorbed, polyphenol byproducts serve as prebiotics for good bacteria and possess antibacterial effects against pathogens. And we all know that a healthy microbiome is the key to a strong immune system (Singh, Cabral, & Kumar, 2019). So go and get your microgreens!
Reason #5 - Microgreens Contain Glucosinolates
Brussels sprouts, turnip, broccoli, kohlrabi, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower microgreens are exceptionally high in glucosinolates, sulfur-containing chemical compounds that possess anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory properties and regulate oxidative damage (is an antioxidant) in our body (Samuoliene, Brazaityti, & Virsile, 2019).
SUMMARY: Microgreens are an easy green fix that is rich in vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and glucosinalates.
Lenzi, A., Orlandini, A., Bulgari, R., Ferrante, A., & Bruschi, P. (2019). Antioxidant and mineral composition of three wild leafy species: a comparison between microgreens and baby greens. Journal of Foods, 8(10), 487. doi: 10.3390/foods8100487
Samuoliene, M., Brazaityte, A., Virsile, A., Miliauskiene, J., Vastakaite-Kairiene, V., Duchovskis, P. (2019). Nutrient levels in Brassicaceae microgreens increase under tailored light-emitting diode spectra. Frontiers in Plant Science. doi:10.3389/fpls.2019.01475
Singh, A. K., Cabral, C., Kumar, R., Ganguly, R., Rana, H. K., Gupta, A., Lauro, M. R., Carbone, C., Reis, F., Pandey, A. K. (2019). Beneficial effects of dietary polyphenols on gut microbiota and strategies to improve delivery efficiency. Journal of Nutrients, 11(9), 2216. doi:10.3390/nu11092216
Uyory, C.,Yu, L. L., & Wang, T. Y. (2018). The science behind microgreens as an exciting new food for the 21st century. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 66, 11519-11530.