Microgreens are healthier than mature plants, as they’re more nutrient dense. They have many health benefits, as they’re packed with vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and antioxidant compounds.
What are microgreens?
Microgreens are immature greens. They’re harvested 7-14 days after seed germination. We harvest the stem and the 2 young leaves of the plant.
Most microgreens are produced from vegetable and herb seeds. Arugula, amaranth, bok choy, basil, beets, broccoli, buckwheat, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, chia, chives, chickpea, celery, cilantro, cress, daikon radish, dill, endive, fennel, kale, mustard, lettuce, peas, spinach, sorrel, sunflower, and watercress are the most common microgreens.
Microgreens have tender texture and intense flavor. They are great in salads, smoothies, sandwiches, or soups.
Differences: Microgreens, sprouts, baby plants, mature plants
Microgreens are different from sprouts. Sprouts are germinated seeds, which have been soaked for several hours. Sprouts are ready after a couple of days. We eat the whole seed when we consume sprouts. Furthermore, no growth medium is used.
On the contrary, we use soil to grow microgreens. Moreover, we don’t eat the roots of microgreens.
As the young plant absorbs nutrients from soil, microgreens are richer in nutrients than sprouts. Also, microgreens have a stronger flavor.
Last, but not least, baby vegetables are immature vegetables. Usually, they are harvested many weeks before maturing. Baby greens are often richer in minerals and antioxidant than microgreens (1).
Are microgreens sustainable?
Certainly, microgreens can feed many people with low environmental impact. For instance, broccoli microgreens require about 236 times less water than the mature plants. Moreover, microgreens need about 93% less time to grow (2).
Most noteworthy, there is no need for fertilizers and pesticides. Therefore, microgreens don’t cause any environmental impact.
Additionally, microgreens are sustainable, as they are usually grown near cities. So, there is no need for long-distance transportation.
Microgreens are more nutrient-dense than the mature plant
Microgreens are more nutrient-dense than the mature plant and have amazing health benefits. They may protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, chronic inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease, age related macular degeneration, and cataracts (3).
- vitamins, such as vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin C
- minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, and manganese
- phytonutrients, such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin
For instance, arugula microgreens (160 mcg), celery microgreens (220 mcg), pea microgreens (310 mcg), and red cabbage (280 mcg) have more vitamin K than mature vegetables high in vitamin K.
Most microgreens are good sources of vitamin C. In most cases, microgreens contain 20-147 mg of vitamin C per 100g.
Red cabbage microgreens (147 mg per 100g), amaranth microgreens (131 mg), arugula microgreens (45 mg), spinach microgreens (41 mg), and celery microgreens (45 mg) are among the richest microgreens in vitamin C.
Microgreens contain higher amounts of vitamin C than the mature plant. For instance, amaranth microgreens (131 mg) contain 3 times more vitamin C than the mature plant (43 mg). Similarly, red cabbage microgreens (147 mg) contains 2.6 times more vitamin C than the mature plant (57 mg).
Microgreens are also good dietary sources of vitamin E. Green daikon radish microgreens are particularly rich in vitamin E. Other microgreens high in vitamin E are cilantro and peppercress. For instance, red cabbage microgreens contain 40 times more vitamin E than the mature plant.
Microgreens are also rich in beta-carotene. Microgreens contain 0.6-12.1 mg of beta-carotene per 100g. The richest microgreens in beta-carotene are red sorrel (12.1 mg per 100g), cilantro (11.7 mg), red cabbage (11.5 mg), and peppercress (11.1 mg).
Cilantro microgreens contain 3 times more beta-carotene than the mature plant. Moreover, red cabbage microgreens contain approximately 260 times more beta-carotene than the mature plant.
Chlorophyll is naturally present only in plants. Microgreens have much higher concentrations of chlorophyll, as compared to mature plants. For instance, broccoli microgreens contain 15 times more chlorophyll than mature broccoli. Celery, lettuce, and artichoke microgreens have higher chlorophyll than mature plants as well (6).
Green leafy vegetables are the richest common foods in chlorophyll.
Microgreens have higher melatonin concentrations than mature plant as well. For instance, germinated soybean seeds have 400% more melatonin than mature soybean seeds. Moreover, the melatonin content in germinated mung beans can be increased more than 11 times.
Phenolic compounds are antioxidants in plant-based foods. Microgreens are among the best sources. For instance, broccoli microgreens has about 10 times more phenolic compounds than the mature plant.