Microgreens: Nutrition, Health Benefits, Types And How To Eat

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Nutrition

oi-Neha Ghosh


on October 8, 2020

Microgreens, also known as micro herbs or vegetable confetti, have gained much popularity in recent times due to its highly concentrated nutritional value and as a culinary ingredient. They are considered a superfood because they contain even more high amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than the mature vegetable greens [1].

In addition to their nutritional value, microgreens add an aromatic flavour and texture to foods and even chefs use them as a garnish to add a splash of colour to a variety of sweet and savoury dishes [2].

What Are Microgreens?

Microgreens are young greens that grow from any vegetable or herb seeds and are one to three inches tall. They are harvested before maturation, within 7 to 21 days after germination, once the small leaves have grown [3].

Microgreens shouldn’t be confused with sprouts as the former grow from sprouts and they have leaves, whereas the latter are newly germinated seeds that are harvested within two to three days, just when the seeds start to grow before the leaves develop.

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Types Of Microgreens

Some of the popular types of microgreens are: [4]

  • Amaranthaceae family: Amaranth, quinoa, beet, spinach, Swiss chard
  • Brassicaceae family: Broccoli, radish, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress and arugula
  • Cucurbitaceae family: Cucumber, melon and squash
  • Asteraceae family: Radicchio, lettuce, chicory and endive
  • Amaryllidaceae family: Onion, garlic and leek
  • Apiaceae family: carrot, celery, fennel and dill

Rice, barley, corn, wheat, oats, chickpeas, beans and lentils are also grown into microgreens and are added to a variety of recipes.

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Nutritional Information Of Microgreens

Different varieties of microgreens provide varying amounts of vitamins, minerals and carotenoids. However, they are rich in nutrients like iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, calcium, selenium, molybdenum, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K and a wide variety of polyphenols and other antioxidants [5] [6] [7].

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Health Benefits Of Microgreens

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1. Promote heart health

Microgreens are an excellent source of polyphenol antioxidants and studies have shown that these antioxidants can help lower the risk of heart disease. Animal studies have shown that microgreens have the ability to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels and may prevent heart disease risk [7] [8].

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2. Help in weight management

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found mice that were fed a high-fat diet were given microgreens, which resulted in controlling weight gain as well as lowered cholesterol [9].

However, further studies are needed to evaluate the effect of microgreens on weight loss in humans.

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3. Lower Alzheimer’s disease risk

Research study shows that polyphenol antioxidants can prevent neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. And microgreens are packed full of polyphenols that can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease [10] [11].

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4. Manage diabetes

A study published in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology reported that fenugreek microgreens exhibit anti-diabetic properties. Consumption of fenugreek microgreens has the potent ability to control blood glucose levels and thus lower the risk of type 2 diabetes [12].

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5. May manage cancer risk

A 2020 study found the anti-proliferative effects of four microgreens belonging to the Brassicaceae family: broccoli, kale, mustard and radish. The study results showed that eating microgreens daily as a part of a balanced diet could reduce the risk of colon cancer [13].

Though these studies look promising further studies are needed on humans.

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Potential Risks Of Microgreens

It is generally safe to consume microgreens. However, microgreens are the tender young greens of various vegetable and herbs and if you are allergic to any specific vegetable or herb, you should avoid consuming microgreens.

Also, microgreens could be contaminated with harmful bacteria. The risk of contamination increases depending on the type, composition, soil, water and storage time of microgreens [14] [15].

However, the risks are minimised if you grow microgreens at home because you will ensure that the soil and water is clean and they are stored properly. Freshly cut microgreens have a shelf life of five days and should be stored at 5°C [15].

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How To Grow Microgreens

Microgreens can be easily grown at home and can thrive well indoors if they receive enough sunlight.

  • Fill your pot with soil and water it lightly. Place it near the sunlight.
  • Sprinkle the seeds of your choice on the soil and lightly mist the soil with water.
  • Check it daily and ensure that the soil is moist.
  • You will see that the seeds have germinated after a few days.
  • After 7 to 21 days the microgreens are ready to harvest.
  • Cut the microgreens above the soil and rinse them properly before eating them.
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Ways To Include Microgreens In Your Diet

  • Add microgreens to your sandwiches and wraps.
  • Blend them in your smoothies.
  • Use them as a garnish for soups, salads and pizzas.
  • Add microgreens in your omelette.
  • Add microgreens to your stir-fry dishes
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Microgreen Recipes

Avocado toasts with microgreens and sesame [16]

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices multi-grain bread, toasted
  • 1 ripe organic avocado, sliced
  • ¼ lemon cut into two wedges
  • Black pepper and kosher salt
  • ½ cup microgreens
  • ¼ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Method:

  • Divide the avocado slices evenly and place it on the toasted bread slices.
  • Smash the avocado slices with the help of a butter knife and spread it.
  • Squeeze the juice of lemon on the avocado, sprinkle with salt and pepper and garnish it with microgreens.
  • Drizzle sesame oil and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Image ref: malibukitchenblog

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