Microgreens are the seedlings of vegetables and herbs. Once the seed of an herb or vegetable begins to grow, it is considered a sprout. Once the sprout begins to grow, the baby plant is considered a microgreen.
Sprouts and microgreens are not one and the same. Sprouts are usually grown in water and harvested within 2-3 days while microgreens are grown in soil, require sunlight, and are harvested after 1-3 weeks of growing time, when they are about 2 inches tall. Baby greens are grown for longer periods and are usually around 3-4 inches tall when they are harvested.
The flavor of microgreens depends on the plant they comes from. It can range from mild to tangy, spicy, or peppery.
Due to their high antioxidant content, microgreens are considered a functional food, a food that promotes health or prevents disease.
Consuming plant-based foods of all kinds has been linked to a reduced risk of many health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Plant-based foods also support a healthy complexion, increased energy, lower weight, and longer life expectancy.
Further research about using microgreens to treat or prevent specific diseases is not yet available.
Many people are not getting the recommended amount of vegetables and fruits per day for many reasons including access, cost, convenience, and taste preference.
Scientific data on the nutritional content of microgreens is limited, but research has shown that microgreens do contain a higher concentration of many nutrients when compared with the mature, fully grown vegetables or herbs.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, micro kale greens contain approximately 29 calories per 100 grams.
Further data on nutrients, such as carbohydrates, protein, and fat content, have yet to be compiled. However, several studies have demonstrated the high level of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that microgreens contain. Microgreens are also rich in enzymes, which enable them to be more easily digested.
The micronutrients contained in microgreens differ widely depending on type. Researchers at the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland studied a total of 25 microgreens. The following microgreens had the highest concentrations of four different vitamins and carotenoids:
For example, red cabbage microgreens are rich in vitamin C, but low in vitamin E. Green daikon radish microgreens were rich in vitamin E but low in lutein when compared to the cabbage, cilantro, and amaranth.
Microgreens can boost color, enhance flavor, and add texture to any dish, while delivering a nutritional boost as well.
Some tips for adding microgreens into meals include: