Microgreens – More Nutritious Than Mature Vegetables and Herbs?
In the past few years, there has been optimistic research into determining whether microgreens are more nutritionally dense per calorie than that of fully matured vegetables, fruits, and herbs. The 2012 article “Assessment of Vitamin and Carotenoid Concentrations of Emerging Food Products: Edible Microgreens” published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers Dr. Qin Wang of the University of Maryland and Gene Lester of the USDA conclude that microgreens contain up to 4-40x more raw nutrients than their fully matured counterparts. Although research of microgreens has only begun, there are already some contrasting studies showing minimal differences in the nutritional density of amaranth microgreens. However, despite sharing an equal amount of nutrition, amaranth microgreens can be grown indoors and harvested in less than a week while fully grown amaranth will require outdoor garden space and up to three months for harvest.
Dr. Qin Wang of the University of Maryland claims:
“Because microgreens are harvested right after germination, all the nutrients they need to grow are there. If they are harvested at the right time, they are very concentrated with nutrients, and the flavor and texture is also good.”
Another team of University of Maryland researchers later published a 2018 article in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry further understanding that:
“Although they are small, microgreens have delicate textures, distinctive flavors, and various nutrients. In general, microgreens contain greater amounts of nutrients and health-promoting micronutrients than their mature counterparts. Because microgreens are rich in nutrients, smaller amounts may provide similar nutritional effects compared to larger quantities of mature vegetables.”
The nutritional benefits of microgreens will depend on which type of seed that is grown and, according to Dr. Qin Wang, when it is harvested. Research agrees that many microgreens varieties contain higher levels of nutrients compared to their mature plants while some, like amaranth, may still be equivalent, yet far more convenient to grow and harvest.
Microgreens first gained popularity with chefs as a culinary garnish and have since grown in popularity for flavor, nutrition, and the indoor convenience. The last decade has been exciting to watch the rise in the use of microgreens as a clean source of fresh, dense, low-calorie nutrition especially here in the United States where many suffer from chronic diseases like obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Based on recent findings, the nutrients and micronutrients found in microgreens (e.g. flavonoids and glucosinolates) regulate cellular pathway processes, including metabolism, inflammation, and hormones. Along with improving these processes, the nutrients improve gut microbiomes, and all these combined benefits may decrease the risk of chronic diseases. The old adage “eat your vegetables” has never been greater advice.
Much of the research that has been done regarding the nutritional density of microgreens has also found that store-bought microgreens can be lacking in nutritional content as compared to homegrown microgreens since it can be a long, difficult process to have them transported to the consumer quickly enough for the nutritional benefits to still be present. There is also the unavoidable high cost associated with store-bought microgreens and fine dining.
By growing your own microgreens at home this can all be avoided! It is simple to garnish or have them star in salads, stir fry, soups, sandwiches, and leafy green smoothies. The possibilities of incorporating them into your diet are endless, while being incredibly easy, cost-effective, and convenient to grow in the kitchen or any home with limited space. Microgreens, they’re not your grandmother’s vegetables.
Do you want to start growing microgreens now? Like, right now? We can help! Take a look at our microgreens kits and microgreens seeds to get everything you need to start. If you already have the supplies, check out our seeds!
- Zach Pope