What Are Microgreens, Anyway?
Chances are you’ve heard of “microgreens”, but you have no clue what they are. Information online is new, existing primarily in dense clinical studies riddled with medical jargon.
The question remains: what are microgreens?
Simply put, microgreens are the product of harvesting vegetables before they mature into full grown plants. At this stage in the growth process, the nutritional content of the plant is at its most concentrated- making microgreens up to forty times as beneficial as their “traditional” vegetable counterparts.
It’s widely known that vegetables are a vital part of a healthy diet. Their vitamin content makes them essential, to assist your immune system in preventing disease. Here’s what you may not know: from harvest to preparation, vegetables run the risk of losing nutrients. Studies also show that cooking can decrease the vitamins in your vegetables by half, depending on the method used. That’s the part you can control - what happens before your vegetables get to grocery store is worse.
As demand for fresh produce increases and grocers are pressured to stock shelves, it’s hard for farmers to keep up. Early harvesting has become a norm, making for low quality, unripe produce. Practices like hormones and “growth-retardants” are often employed to give produce a “fresher” look, despite poor farming and transportation practices. Turns out getting your Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) isn’t so easy.
Ensuring you buy only organic produce is a good solution to these dilemmas. Extending that to beyond produce, meaning organic crackers, bread, pasta and so on can make a great difference to your overall health.
Microgreens can be a wonderful addition in your wellness journey. Often compared to sprouts and herbs, microgreens are easier to eat than “regular” vegetables. The texture is delicate and the flavor mild, so microgreens seamlessly blend in with all cuisines. Microgreens contain up to 40% more nutrition than full-grown plants, without the volume. Every handful of microgreens can contain dozens of plants (like the Giant Gorilla Greens Spicy Salad Mix), maximizing your vitamin intake. You can eat the whole thing too, stems and all.
Locally grown right here in MA, and organic, microgreens are often harvested less than twenty-four hours before they reach your plate. At this level of freshness, you can be certain your greens are at their maximum nutrition potential. Better for the environment and your local economy, microgreens won’t give you anything to feel guilty about!
Truth of the matter is, a lot of us have nutritional deficiencies we aren’t aware of. According to Environmental Working Group, “more than 40 percent of adults have dietary intakes of vitamin A, C, D and E, calcium and magnesium below the average requirement for their age and gender”.
As diet culture branches into the unknown, we find ourselves restricting more than ever. Some of us give up meat, dairy, gluten or carbs in the hopes of losing a few pounds. Restrictive diets may cause you to miss out on essential nutrients.
The long-term effect of nutritional deficiencies is far scarier than the scale. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness in children.4 Vitamin K is essential to assist in blood clotting- so you won’t bleed to death. Vitamin E is strongly linked with cancer prevention. These invisible ingredients are literally lifesaving.
Considering their high concentration of vitamins and minerals, it’s easier to reach your RDAs by including microgreens in your diet. Rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals like fiber, iron and calcium, scientists compare the effects of microgreens to that of herbal medicine. The high concentration of these nutrients makes them highly effective in preventing disease.
Take a look at what these little plants are packing:
|Type of Microgreen||High in X Nutrient||Benefits|
|Amaranth||Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Fiber||Prevents vision loss, assists the immune system in fighting infections; aids digestion.|
|Beet||Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium||Prevents vision loss, oral and lung cancers; assists body in digestion; improves heart health.|
|Broccoli||Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Calcium, Fiber, Iron, Sulforaphane||Prevents cancer; assists digestion and blood clotting.|
|Carrot||Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Carotenes||Prevents cancer, vision loss; assists blood clotting.|
|Pea||Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Fiber, Folate, Carotenes||Prevents vision loss; aids in digestion.|
|Radish||Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Sulforaphane, Zinc||Prevents cancer and vision loss; improves heart health; helps immune system fight off infections.|
|Spicy Salad (mix of kale, arugula, mustard, cabbage, kohlrabi)||Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Calcium, Fiber, Iron, Lutein, Carotenes,||Prevents cancer, respiratory conditions like asthma, vision loss, skin cancers; assists digestion and blood clotting.|
|Sunflower||Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Calcium, Fiber, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc||Prevents cancer, vision loss, bone fracture; assists digestion; helps immune system fight off infections; improves heart health.|
So, what are microgreens, anyway?
Microgreens are vegetables harvested at their peak nutritional potential. They provide high concentrations of vitamins and minerals that assist your immune system in fighting infection and disease. Locally grown and organic, you can quit worrying about the quality of your greens. These sustainable plants are fresh, easy and delicious! You don’t even need to cook them!
Go ahead and try them out!
1Xiao, Zhenlei, et al. “Assessment of Vitamin and Carotenoid Concentrations of Emerging Food Products: Edible Microgreens.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, vol. 60, no. 31, 2012, pp. 7644–7651., doi:10.1021/jf300459b.
2SRIVASTAVA, G.C., and Vijay Paul. “Post-Harvest Technology of Fresh Fruits, Vegetables and Flowers: Role of Plant Physiology.” Division of Plant Physiology, Jan. 2003.
3“Appendix B: Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies in the U.S.” EWG, 2018, www.ewg.org/research/how-much-is-too-much/appendix-b-vitamin-and-mineral-deficiencies-us.
4, Kierstan. “What Is Vitamin A Deficiency?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 17 Jan. 2020, www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/vitamin-deficiency.
5Albahrani, Ali A, and Ronda F Greaves. “Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Clinical Indications and Current Challenges for Chromatographic Measurement.” The Clinical Biochemist. Reviews, The Australian Association of Clinical Biochemists, Feb. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4810759/.