Health Benefits of Microgreens
Microgreens contain similar and often greater amounts of these nutrients than mature greens. As such, they may similarly reduce the risk of the following diseases:
• Heart disease: Microgreens are a rich source of polyphenols, a class of antioxidants linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Animal studies show that microgreens may lower triglyceride and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13).
• Diabetes: Antioxidants may help reduce the type of stress that can prevent sugar from properly entering cells. In lab studies, fenugreek microgreens appeared to enhance cellular sugar uptake by 25–44% (16Trusted Source, 17).
• Certain cancers: Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in polyphenols, may lower the risk of various types of cancer. Polyphenol-rich microgreens may be expected to have similar effects (18Trusted Source).
While this seems promising, note that the number of studies directly measuring the effect of microgreens on these medical conditions is limited, and none could be found in humans.
Therefore, more studies are needed before strong conclusions can be made.
Microgreens deliver a concentrated dose of nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. As a result, they may reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Benefit To Microgreens Beyond Looking Adorbs?
Microgreens are cropping up on sandwiches and salads everywhere—and I’m not complaining. Not only are they totes adorbs, but they’re super healthy, too.
“Microgreens look like little sprouts and are a type of vegetable,” says, Monica Auslander Moreno, RD with RSP Nutrition. “There are actually around 60 different varieties.” Specifically, they’re seedlings harvested in the primary stage of the vegetable’s growth—and can come from plants like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, and others.
The best part? Microgreens can be up 40 times more potent in phytochemicals than their mature counterparts, according to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
And microgreens live up to their name, in that they’re so teeny-tiny you can incorporate them into a variety of dishes without even noticing. “Mix them into a smoothie,” says Auslander Moreno. “Or grind them up with a food processor or blender, then fold into baked goods, pancakes, or oatmeal.”
So watch out spinach and kale…these tiny greens pack a big nutrient-filled punch.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, and the good news is that plant-based foods like microgreens have positive effects on blood pressure. “Any plant-based food with fiber and vitamin K has the potential to lower blood pressure,” says Auslander Moreno—along with the other blood pressure treatments recommended by your doc, of course.
Auslander Moreno says plants, including microgreens, can have anti-cancer properties. In fact, research from the journal Future of Oncology found that sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli microgreens, has the potential to target cancer stem cells.
If you feel the sniffles coming on, do yourself a favor and make a salad. “Any vegetable has the potential to be anti-inflammatory and potentially affect immunity in a positive way,” says Auslander Moreno. And microgreens pack a ton of these nutrients into an easy-to-eat package.
Squinting at your screen? Increase your leafy green intake—which should include microgreens. According to Auslander Moreno, they contain lutein, a phytochemical implicated in vision health.
Research from Frontiers in Plant Science confirms the lutein content in microgreens can help your eyes absorb excess light intensity—which many office workers agree can lead to headaches and migraines.
As part of an overall healthy diet, microgreens might help speed things up in the bathroom. “Any fiber can help reduce constipation,” says Auslander Moreno.
Researchers found that red cabbage microgreens can lower cholesterol and assist in weight loss when consuming an otherwise fatty diet, according to a small study published by The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Just more proof that microgreens are a great addition to an already healthy diet.
General Nutritional and Health Benefits Of Microgreens
Aside from specific benefits of certain microgreens, as a whole they’ve got a number of nutritional and health benefits regardless of what variety you’re eating.
Polyphenols are compounds that have antioxidant properties.
They can stop free radicals from building up in your body, which are atoms or molecules that can cause chronic disease and damage your cells.
Diets high in polyphenols have been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and heart disease.
Microgreens are more nutrient dense when compared to fully mature versions of the same vegetable or herb.
They take all of the minerals and vitamins you’d find in a whole lettuce or cabbage and fit it into a smaller package.
• Most vegetables are high in a wide range of vitamins and minerals to begin with. Such as vitamin A, C, K, manganese, folate, and more.
In their microgreen versions, they contain the same types of nutrients.
But microgreens often contain between 4 and 40 times more nutrients by weight compared to fully grown vegetables.
So just a few servings of microgreens per week can go a long way toward meeting your nutritional requirements.
You can grow microgreens at home even if you’ve never had a garden before. They can be grown even if you live in an apartment, giving you instant access to nutritious food whenever you need it.
With a small upfront investment in some seeds, soil, and trays, you can have healthy microgreens to eat for months to come.
They’re ready to eat in just one or two weeks, and you can grow them all year round. It doesn’t matter what the weather outside is like and you don’t need to worry about insects and pests.
Growing your own food allows you to reduce your carbon footprint as well since it doesn’t need to travel hundreds of miles to reach you.
Microgreens give you a healthy salad sitting on your windowsill that you can harvest and eat at any time. It doesn’t get much fresher than that!
Heart disease is the top cause of death in the US and is responsible for one in six deaths.
But by modifying your diet, including adding more microgreens to it, you can reduce your chance of becoming a statistic.
Eating more vegetables in general is linked with a reduced risk of heart disease and heart attack. And microgreens are no exception.
Perhaps the best microgreens for heart health are red cabbage.
Red cabbage microgreens have been shown to cut LDL cholesterol by 34%, triglycerides by 23%, and reduce weight gain by 17% in a study done with rats.
Microgreens aren’t a miracle cure. But when you combine them with other changes like a healthy lifestyle including regular physical activity and a balanced diet, you’ll drastically improve your health. Especially later in life.
Inflammation is a major indicator of disease in the body.
Microgreens and vegetable intake in general is shown to reduce inflammation markers as well as lower the risk of several types of cancer.
They’re also linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Eating a wide variety of different microgreens helps to ensure you’re getting the nutrition you need.
Be sure to eat microgreens of different colors, because different colors of fruits and vegetables represent different healthy compounds called phytochemicals, as well as other micronutrients.
• Red vegetables contain lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant.
• Orange and yellow vegetables contain carotenoids like beta carotene and lutein, which the body converts into vitamin A.
• Blue and purple vegetables contain anthocyanin which can help protect cells from damage.
• Green vegetables contain a wide range of different phytochemicals including saponins, indoles, and carotenoids.
• Brown and white vegetables like garlic contain allicin which has antibacterial properties.
So if eating the rainbow sounds like a good idea to you so you can add some extra nutrition to your diet, microgreens might well be the perfect crop for you to grow
At the end of the day, choosing microgreens mostly comes down to personal taste.
It’s better to eat greens that you’ll actually enjoy, rather than trying to force yourself to eat ones that you hate the taste of.
It will be hard to stick with long-term if you don’t like the flavor.
1. If you like a more mild flavor, you can try broccoli, spinach, chard, cabbage, or carrot microgreens.
2. If you enjoy a bit more flavor, try radishes, chives, mustard, mint, and other more strongly flavored microgreens.
3. If you’re growing microgreens yourself, it’s a good idea to choose cool season or hot season plants depending on what time of the year it is, temperature, how much natural sunlight you get in your house, and other factors.
You can also use microgreens as a way to try exotic vegetables that you can’t normally find in your grocery store like tatsoi, komatsuna, or amaranth.
There are many ways to include microgreens in your diet.
They can be incorporated into a variety of dishes, including sandwiches, wraps and salads.
Microgreens may also be blended into smoothies or juiced. Wheatgrass juice is a popular example of a juiced microgreen.
Another option is to use them as garnishes on pizzas, soups, omelets, curries and other warm dishes.
Microgreens may be eaten raw, juiced or blended and can be incorporated into a variety of cold and warm dishes.
Is Eating Them Risky?
Eating microgreens is generally considered safe.
Nevertheless, one concern is the risk of food poisoning. However, the potential for bacteria growth is much smaller in microgreens than in sprouts.
Microgreens require slightly less warm and humid conditions than sprouts do, and only the leaf and stem, rather than the root and seed, are consumed.
That said, if you’re planning on growing microgreens at home, it’s important to buy seeds from a reputable company and choose growing mediums that are free of contamination with harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli (19Trusted Source).
Microgreens are generally considered safe to eat. When growing them at home, pay special attention to the quality of the seeds and growing mediums used.