Did you know that microgreens are packed with benefits?
Microgreens are the latest trend developing in healthy eating. They’re easy to grow and they pack a ton of nutrients into one little package. Plus, they’re delicious!
In this article from HerbSpeak, you’ll learn about the top 5 most popular benefits that microgreens provide to the home grower and taste enthusiast.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are a type of edible plant that is grown with soil, sunlight, and water, much like many other plants. The baby greens grow quickly and can be harvested as soon as they reach their desired size, which is always before the plant’s “true leaves” emerge. This leaves the cotyledons for consumption, which are nutritious and full of flavor.
Essentially, what this means is that microgreens are just the seedling versions of the vegetables and herbs you are already familiar with.
But don’t confuse them with the “baby spinach” in your supermarket, which are just underdeveloped adult leaves.
These microgreens are harvested at the end of their first stage of growth, before any real vegetation grows in. This first stage of growth is called the ‘seedling’ stage, which occurs right after seeds begin to germinate in moist, warm soil.
While microgreens are harvested while still in their early stages, they pack a punch when it comes to nutrients! In fact, there’s as much as ten times the amount of Vitamin A and C as well as calcium compared to some types of mature greens.
Are Microgreens a Superfood?
Microgreens are the newest trend in healthy eating. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that make them an excellent addition to any diet.
These greens are very young, still-immature greens harvested at the time when their true leaves haven’t developed yet, and the stems are only one or two inches long on average.
The reason why these micro greens are taking the healthy eating world by storm is because there are studies that have shown the greens are rich in nutrients and minerals. This is compared to the same quantity of adult greens of the same type. (1)
In comparison with nutritional concentrations in mature leaves (USDA National Nutrient Database), the microgreen cotyledon leaves possessed higher nutritional densities.
While more studies must be done on the subject and exact nutritional content of the greens across a wider sampling size, this study has caused some people to start calling them superfoods.
The commonly accepted assessment of a superfood is that of “a nutrient-rich food considered to be beneficial for health and well-being.”
If that’s the case, microgreens definitely do apply – so yes, microgreens are a superfood!
Their nutritional content will vary depending on the types of greens, but many common varieties tend to be rich in potassium, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, and carotenoids.
A Few Different Types of Microgreens
Microgreens are a great alternative to salad for those looking for something fresh and flavorful.
These immature greens are a great alternative to leafy greens because they can be used in place of lettuce and other ingredients and garnishes across a wide range of culinary dishes.
In fact, microgreens are more flavorful than the full-grown version, making it perfect for anyone who wants to eat healthier but might not have the time to cook or grow their own vegetables.
Sunflower Microgreens – By far a fan favorite for many people, sunflower microgreens take a little bit more work to grow, but the wait is worth it. With a nutty, earthy taste that adds the right amount of fresh crunch and sweetness to any dish, these microgreens will have you coming back for more.
Arugula Microgreens – Perfect for garnishing salads, quiches, soups, and sandwiches. Arugula – or rocket – is often grown for its peppery flavor and takes a little under two weeks to grow to full “maturity.”
Radish Microgreens – These microgreens are among some of the easiest to grow and are what many beginners begin their micro-journey with, especially since they only require shallow trays. For good reason, too; radish micros are tasty, with a powerful radish spice and earthy flavor all around that adds complexity to many dishes, even as just a garnish.
Broccoli Microgreens – A lot of people have taken to growing broccoli microgreens, largely for its nutritional content. This type of microgreen is best used in salads and soups, adding an earthy and complex flavor to any dish.
Top 5 Benefits of Microgreens
There are many benefits to microgreens, whether you are growing them, eating them, or appreciating them for their educational value.
These delicacies have a great taste and texture when grown properly, and are rich in vitamins and minerals, making them the perfect garnish or fresh addition to common meals.
The nutritional content has been shown to be as much as nine times higher than adult versions of the same type of vegetable or herb. (2)
Results showed that microgreens possess a higher content of most minerals (Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn, Zn, Se and Mo) and a lower NO3– content than mature lettuces.
Unfortunately, there are no comprehensive studies yet detailing the full breadth of microgreens’ nutrients versus their mature versions. The growth of the urban microgreens grower industry is only just now catching the public’s attention, making room for scientists to conduct more studies and provide more information.
Below are several benefits that you can expect when growing, eating, and observing microgreens whether you are out on the town or at home cooking for yourself.
1. Healthy for You
We have covered a lot of the benefits that microgreens provide for the body, but it’s quite different once you try it and feel the difference healthy food makes on your overall mood and energy levels.
You deserve to feel good every day, not just on special occasions, or when it’s convenient. Microgreens make it possible to enjoy nutritious food everyday without the fuss. Eating microgreens is an easy and enjoyable way to make sure that you’re getting your daily dose of nutrients in a tasty and convenient package.
Pop open your fresh container of micros and sprinkle them into your favorite dish or drink. It couldn’t be any easier to feel better every day. Plus, they make a great snack!
2. Easy to Incorporate into Any Diet
Microgreens are small and keep easily in the fridge for a week or two, which makes them a great way to incorporate veggies and herbs into your diet.
By far, microgreens are considered one of the best ways to get your daily dose of minerals, and they’re easy to care for if you choose to grow your own. You can find them in grocery stores, or you can grow your own in a few simple steps!
The ways you can mix and match different micros in your cooking is seemingly endless. You can add these greens as a garnish or fresh ingredient into almost any dish, hot or cold. From stews, soups, and salads to sandwiches, casseroles and even – yes – desserts.
3. Sustainable Farming Practices
If you are interested in a sustainable food source, then try growing microgreens with a sustainable growing medium such as hemp mats. These plants grow to the harvest stage quickly, some taking as few as 7 days from germination to harvest.
Indoor farming in general has opened up an opportunity for more sustainable farming practices, especially as we combine these lessons with vertical gardening and other innovations in agriculture.
While there is a long way to go before farming becomes 100% sustainable, microgreens are a positive step in the right direction, making progress with new innovations at every turn. Growing your own microgreens – or eating microgreens that supports local growers is the best way to enable this type of progress.
4. Helps You Learn About Plants
Not only do microgreens pack a powerful nutritional punch, but they also give you an inside look into how plants work on a smaller scale.
Learning how to grow microgreens will help you learn how a plant grows in its formative stages, as well as the different ways the plants will interact with their environment.
Here’s a fun fact – microgreens don’t need nutrients to grow to a harvestable maturity. You could, in fact, grow microgreens on damp paper towels if you wanted to, because the seed contains enough nutrients to help the plant grow until it can produce true leaves.
Learning more about the science and experimentation in the industry will help you learn about the different stages of plant growth, the anatomy of plants, and what they need to survive and grow throughout their life cycle.
5. Fun to Grow
Not only can microgreens be grown year-round, but they are also fun to grow. Perfect for children and adults alike, you can grow microgreens right on your countertop by following a few instructions.
That joy or happiness that you feel anytime you look at the progress your greens have made is a great example of the benefit they provide.
We tend to focus on food as a way to provide us with physical health and nourishment, but we forget that it’s good for our mental health, as well. Following something pure and innocent as it grows throughout the days is a reminder to take a deep breath and smile.
No, I won’t stop you from keeping one or two as a pet, either. Your secret is safe with me.
Are There Risks to Eating Microgreens?
While a lot of people are on board with the idea of microgreens, some are not so intrigued by the possibility of foodborne diseases.
With cases of Salmonella and E. coli in the news, it’s no wonder that this might be a concern, especially since many microgreens farmers are home growers, not commercial greenhouse owners.
Fortunately, the risk for bacteria growth in microgreens is considered much lower than that of sprouts because of the way they are grown. The stems and leaves are the only part of the product consumed, and microgreens require much lower humidity conditions to growing than sprouts do.
The growing mediums typically used when growing the plants are also considered incredibly sanitary. For example, some of these growing mediums are peat, vermiculite, and single-use growing mats such as burlap and hemp.
The only other risk microgreens could pose is an overabundance of a certain mineral or nutrient in your diet. This is mainly a concern if you are on medications or have a medical condition that prevents your body from properly breaking those nutrients down correctly.
- Zhenlei Xiao, Assessment of Vitamin and Carotenoid Concentrations of Emerging Food Products: Edible Microgreens, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22812633/
- Edgar Pinto, Comparison Between the Mineral Profile and Nitrate Content of Microgreens and Mature Lettuces, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889157514001513