Microgreens: A powerful nutrition supplement

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microgreens

A new culinary trend has emerged in recent years known as microgreens/vegetable confetti/micro herbs. As the name suggests, they are the mini version of the vegetables that we eat, but research shows, though they are named micro, their nutritional impact is macro. Yes, you heard it right! They provide a dense dose of essential vitamins and minerals and can also be categorized under superfoods. 

Let’s dive deep into the green world of small leaves and slender stems that have so much to offer us. 

WHAT ARE MICROGREENS?

Microgreens are the cotyledon stage of an edible plant with an average size of 1-3 inches, falling somewhere between the sprouts and mature greens. They are harvested after 7-21 days of sprouting. They prefer a humid and less warm climate to grow.

It was first introduced by a chef in San Francisco around the 1980s. Gradually, it gained popularity for its aroma, texture and taste throughout the ’90s and cultivation started to meet the need. Now, about 25 varieties of microgreens have been found and cultured. 

It is claimed that these microgreens offer a dense source of nutrients apart from the visual appeal and their vibrant-hued garnishes. Various researches had been conducted to support this statement and to know how baby-fication of plants can help the whole world. 

NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS: 

Recent years have come up with some mind-blowing results that support the fact- “Microgreens are rich sources of vitamins and minerals and provide more than their mature counterparts”. 

A 2010 study published in the Journal of American Society for Horticultural Science has stated that- the lettuce leaves, harvested after 7 days of sprouting, are more likely to have more antioxidants and health-promoting phenolic compounds than their mature versions. Later, the Aug 2012 issue in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that the cotyledon leaves provide more nutrients than their mature counterparts. 

VITAMIN C: It is evident that the cotyledon leaves provide a dense source of vitamin C which is double the amount in tomatoes. 

Red cabbage has the most vitamin C content among tested varieties with 147 milligrams/100gm of servings while mature red cabbage contains 57 milligrams of equal servings. 

VITAMIN A: To date, carrots were known to be the richest source of beta-carotene(vitamin A) but recent research(2012) reveals that these mini versions provide more carotenoids(12 milligrams/100g) than boiled carrot(8 milligrams/100g). It also provides other carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. 

VITAMIN E: In 1967, a research team found significant levels of tocopherol in pea seedlings. The study conducted in 2012 also got supporting results in this context. vitamin E  is a mix of alpha and gamma-tocopherol. The research showed that the alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol combined ranged from 7.9 to 126.8 milligrams per 100 grams while the allowance for daily intake of vitamin E is about 15 mg of alpha-tocopherol. That is, one can take a little amount to meet the daily requirement. 

VITAMIN K: Though found in small amounts, the highest level is found in baby amaranth. Otherwise, studies show that the range of vitamin K varies from  0.6 to 4.1 micrograms per gram based on the type of microgreens. 

The aforementioned nutrients are found in abundance in recent researches. Other nutrients like energy are adequate, proteins and carbs are sufficient and filled with fiber, minerals, and other bioactive components like flavonoids, polyphenols, phytochemicals, etc. More studies have been conducted on this new trend to evaluate their role in preventing diseases and attaining wellness. 

HOW CAN YOU CONSUME IT? 

It’s pretty simple to add microgreens to your daily home cooked food. It will give you the restaurant-like style, so you won’t miss that vibe and you can click to share your style with the world. Along with providing dense nutrition, it will also add on aroma and a peculiar taste which you’ll love to try. 

Here’s how you can add them to your daily menu: 

  • Garnish any soup, curry, salad, etc.
  • Take it as smoothie/juice in raw form
  • Side main dish 
  • Stuffings in bread/parathas etc. 

SOME COMMON MICROGREENS: 

The names are very common as they are just the micro version of the mature vegetables we eat daily. But among them, only a few are in culture but more to come in the coming years. 

Here’s a list of some common microgreens you can try at home hassle-free: 

  1. Green grams
  2. Horse grams
  3. Wheat
  4. Amaranth
  5. Cabbage (red & green)
  6. Kale
  7. Spinach
  8. Broccoli
  9. Sunflower
  10. Fenugreek
  11. Coriander 

A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO GET STARTED WITH THE MICROGREENS: 

It’s super easy to get started with the baby plants at your home. They won’t need much attention but you’ll gradually fall in love with their cuteness. 

All you need is: 

  • Good quality seeds
  • A growing medium-like container filled with soil/cotton cloth
  • Proper light (sunlight)

Steps: 

  • In the case of grams, you need to soak them overnight in water and then get started. 

If it is vegetable seeds, one can start from the following step;

  • Scatter the seeds on the soil/cloth, sprinkle water and cover them with a plastic lid/cloth. 
  • Daily mist water at least twice/thrice a day.
  • After the sprouts come out, you can remove the covering. Avoid scorching sun rays, or it may dry out. 
  • After 7-14 days, the microgreens will be ready to harvest. 

It is always good to get started with something new and innovative. Microgreens are an easy and quick way to start spot gardening, they soothe your eyes and make the ambiance lively. So, get started with baby-fication of the plants today! 

FAQS

  1. Are they safe to be eaten? 

Yes, they are generally safe. Just be aware of the quality of seed and media in which they are grown. 

  1. Where can I get them?

They are easily available in grocery stores/ nurseries/farms where they are cultured. One can also order online. 

Read more about Nutritious Foods for Muscle Building

You can also consult doctor online for personalized nutrition advice.

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Article by Ishita Chandra, Bsc Food and Nutrition.

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