Big Reasons You Need Microgreens
Anyone who loves leafy green vegetables will welcome this news about microgreens, while those who are reluctant veggie eaters should rejoice as well. Researchers are uncovering some big reasons you need microgreens, where a little goes a long, long way.
What are microgreens?
Microgreens are immature plants and herbs that are ready to harvest and eat after just one or two weeks of growth, or when they are about 2 to 3 inches tall. What’s special about microgreens is that they pack a superior amount of nutrients, more than their larger, more mature counterparts.
The most popular uses for microgreens are as a topping for salads and as an edible garnish. You will want to eat these tiny greens, since they are not only nutritious but provide intense flavors and new textures to your meal as well.
In 2012, a group of researchers published the first scientific analysis of the nutrient content of 25 varieties of edible microgreens. They reported that:
- The amount of vitamins and carotenoids found in microgreens vary widely
- Red cabbage microgreens had the highest concentration of vitamin C
- Green daikon radish microgreens possessed the highest concentration of vitamin E
- Cilantro microgreens boasted the highest concentrations of carotenoids
- Garnet amaranth microgreens showed the highest concentrations of vitamin K (phylloquinone)
New study of microgreens
In one of the latest studies of microgreens, researchers discovered that feeding red cabbage microgreens to mice who were on a high-fat diet resulted in a lowering of risk factors for cardiovascular disease as well as reduced weight gain. Red cabbage was used because previous research has shown that the mature vegetable can help protect against elevated cholesterol levels.
Generally, the investigative team headed by Thomas T.Y. Wang, at the US Department of Agriculture, found that:
- Both microgreens and mature cabbage reduced cholesterol and weight gain in mice on high-fat diets
- Microgreens contained more glucosinolates (sulfur-containing substances with cancer-fighting potential) and cholesterol-reducing polyphenols than mature cabbage
- Microgreens helped lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL; aka “bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the mice
Grow your own microgreens
Microgreens are a popular culinary feature in many restaurants, but you can grow your own at home, indoors or outdoors. All you need are some simple planting containers, potting soil, and a variety of seeds.
The easiest microgreens to grow are broccoli, buckwheat, cabbage, cauliflower, chia, mustard, and sunflower, but you can try radish, spinach, and lettuce as well. Because you will be harvesting your microgreens well before the plants mature, you don’t need deep pots for planting; shallow ones are adequate.
Cover the bottom of your containers with about two inches of potting soil, moisten it, and gently flatten the soil. Scatter seeds on top of the soil, press them down, and cover with a thin layer of soil. Mist the surface of the soil with water.
Place the containers in a south-facing window or wherever there is sufficient sunlight for three or more hours daily. Read more about how to grow microgreens on this website.
Whether you grow your own microgreens, buy them from the store, or enjoy them in restaurants, they can provide a nutritional and delicious boost to your diet. Try microgreens soon!
Gardeners.com. How to grow microgreens
Huang H et al. Red cabbage microgreens lower circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL), liver cholesterol, and inflammatory cytokines in mice fed a high-fat diet. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2016; 64(48): 9161
Xiao Z et al. Assessment of vitamin and carotenoid concentrations of emerging food products: edible microgreens. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2012; 60(31): 7644
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