What to Know About Microgreens

While there are a wide variety of microgreens that you can buy (or grow at home), the names of these miniature plants should sound familiar: beets, Swiss chard, broccoli, mustard, arugula, amaranth, and peas among others. Microgreens are simply the versions of these vegetables and herbs when they are in their tiny sprout form.

There are around sixty different kinds of microgreens. Not only do microgreens add a nutritional punch to salads, soups, or sandwiches, but they are also tender and offer delicious flavor.

What Are the Health Benefits of Microgreens?

Microgreens have become increasingly popular in the past handful of years, and a great deal of ongoing research seeks to understand all the health benefits these tiny plants offer. 

Early research has indicated that microgreens contain up to 40% more phytochemicals (beneficial nutrients and components) than their full-grown counterparts.

Though these little greens are small in stature, they contain extremely high levels of powerful vitamins, minerals, and health-supporting components.

Microgreens can lower blood pressure. Foods that are high in fiber and vitamin K can be helpful in maintaining a healthy blood pressure, and microgreens are high in both of these important elements as well as other vitamins and minerals.

Microgreens might help fight cancer. Research is ongoing into this subject, but some early evidence suggests that sulforaphane — a compound found at especially high levels in broccoli sprouts — may help fight cancer.

Some microgreens can help lower cholesterol. A study found that red cabbage microgreens lower levels of LDL cholesterol, liver cholesterol, and inflammatory cytokines — all factors that can increase your risk for heart disease.

Microgreens can support gut health. Foods that are high in dietary fiber, like microgreens, can ease constipation or other gastro-intestinal distress when eaten as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Research also indicates that dietary fiber serves as a " prebiotic," or material that provides an ideal environment for the "good" bacteria in the human microbiome to flourish.

What Kinds of Microgreens Are There?

With over 60 varieties of microgreens and microgreen blends available, there is no shortage of tasty and healthy choices when it comes to what to explore. 

Some of the most popular varieties of microgreens include:

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How To Grow and Use Microgreens

Microgreens, which are very similar to sprouts, are easy to grow at home on a small scale. They don't take very long to grow (typically around a week) and can be grown all year round in a windowsill or other sunny spot. 

Simply plant some seeds of the kind of microgreens or sprouts that you'd like to cultivate, and water accordingly. There are plentiful guides and videos online for how to sprout or grow a wide variety of microgreen.

These superfoods are easy to grow and a great way to get kids involved in growing their own food on a small scale. Kids enjoy sprinkling these little kid-sized leaves onto their own salads or sandwiches. Some microgreens boast bolder flavors than their full-sized counterparts, so be sure to taste before adding a whole handful. A little may go a long way.

Since microgreens are small and tender, it's easy to add them to recipes to take full advantage of their nutritional power. Given their small size and high water content, it's not recommended to cook microgreens, but don't forget to wash them before eating them.

Here are a few suggestions for how to use microgreens:

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Future Oncology: "Targeting cancer stem cells with sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts."

Gut Microbes: "Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota."

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: "Assessment of Vitamin and Carotenoid Concentrations of Emerging Food Products: Edible Microgreens.", "Red Cabbage Microgreens Lower Circulating Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), Liver Cholesterol, and Inflammatory Cytokines in Mice Fed a High-Fat Diet.", "The Science behind Microgreens as an Exciting New Food for the 21st Century."

PennState Extension: "A Step-By-Step Guide for Growing Microgreens at Home.", "The ABCs of Microgreens."

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