Microgreens are rapidly gaining popularity across all seven continents due to their ornamental and health benefits as edible veggies. There is a reason why greenhouses, city residents, housewives, and restaurant owners are showing their deep interest in these plants.
The plants we are talking about are being increasingly used in small amounts in both local and international cuisines due to their intense flavoring effect. Besides their ornamental and taste inducing properties, these plants also offer countless health benefits. Some on the list are even trending as powerful home remedies for several health ailments.
Before we list our ten amazing microgreens, let’s look into what microgreens actually are, their nutritional content, and their awesome health benefits.
What are microgreens?
Microgreens are immature green vegetables also known as vegetable confetti. It is important not to confuse microgreens with sprouts. Sprouts are germinated seeds while microgreens as the name suggests are baby greens that are up to 3 inches tall. They have an aromatic flavor and concentrated nutrients and come in a variety of colors and textures.
Microgreens are more similar to baby greens, because only their stems and leaves are considered edible. However, unlike baby greens, their size is much smaller and are harvested as early as a month after germination.
Microgreens generally have three basic parts, a central stem, cotyledon leaves, and a pair of first true leaves. It is to be noted that ‘microgreens’ is not a legal or scientific classification of the plants but rather a marketing or gardening terminology.
Nutritional content of microgreens
Since microgreens are the youngest versions of vegetables, they are richer in nutritional content as compared to their adult counterparts. Several studies have been made to identify the nature and concentration of nutritional content in microgreens and the results were surprising.
- Multiple studies conducted by USDA agricultural services as of early 2014 identified the nutritional makeup and shelf life of microgreens. The researches identified key nutrients in the vegetables as ascorbic acid (vitamin C), tocopherols (vitamin E), phylloquinone (vitamin K), beta-carotene (a vitamin A precursor), and other related carotenoids.
- The studies found out that microgreens contained five times more minerals and vitamins than their adult counterparts.
- Another study conducted by the department of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Maryland in 2012 indicated microgreens to have 4-40% more nutritional content than fully grown plants. The study
- Yaguang (Sunny) Luo, a food technologist at the United States department of agriculture and Agriculture research magazine headed a team of scientists to analyze the mineral content of 30 different microgreen varieties. The team found out that the most concentrated minerals in microgreens were Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, and Sodium_All essential minerals that play a crucial role in biological processes in our bodies.
Family Classification of Microgreens
Apiaceae: Dill, carrot, fennel and celery
Amaryllidaceae: Garlic, onion, leek
Brassicaceae: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, radish and arugula
Asteraceae: Lettuce, endive, chicory and radicchio
Amaranthaceae: Amaranth, quinoa swiss chard, beet and spinach
Cucurbitaceae: Melon, cucumber and squash
Health benefits of microgreens
Due to their concentrated nutritional content, microgreens offer a range of potential health benefits. Ranging from cardiovascular diseases to obesity, microgreens are a necessary nutrition to keep diseases at bay.
Help reduce cardiovascular diseases: The way microgreens help reduce cardiovascular diseases is not attributed to a single ingredient. Ranging from a healthy digestive system to improved metabolism, microgreens effectively reduce the risk of potential cardiovascular diseases. Polyphenols combat bad cholesterol (LDL) and ensure a smooth circulation system which is essential for cardiovascular health.
Boost the body’s immune system: The lysine amino acid necessary to protect the immune system increases significantly in the germination time. In addition, microgreens give a powerful dose of antioxidants and essential minerals and vitamins including vitamin C. The adequate supply of these essential ingredients helps improve body’s immune system.
Helps improve concentration and eyesight: Besides all the antioxidants and essential minerals, Vitamin E helps maintain good eyesight. And microgreens offer a good quantity of the vitamin.
Aid in weight loss: Microgreens contain increased levels of antioxidants and dietary fiber. Antioxidants help burn body fat and fiber improves digestion. The combined effect improves metabolism and maintains a healthy digestive system.
Help lower bad cholesterol (LDL): Microsprouts are a rich source of polyphenol, a class of antioxidants that fight cholesterol. Studies have shown that microgreens can effectively lower triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
Reduce the risk of cancers: Studies have shown that microgreens can help reduce the risk of several cancers. This is due to the presence of polyphenol ( main polyphenols include phenolic acids and flavonoids ).
Effectively combat Alzheimer’s: Nutrition rich in antioxidants, especially one that contains a high content of polyphenol, is proven to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in adults and the elderly.
How to grow microgreens?
Growing microgreens is fairly easy and one method fits all varieties. Here is how to grow your herbs in a few simple steps:
- Fill any container with soil up to 2 inches thick.
- Sprinkle your seeds and spread another handful of soil as the second layer.
- Spray water thoroughly and don’t pat the soil.
- Place the container in a dark place for a week until the seeds sprout.
- Take the container out into the open as sunlight is essential at this stage.
- Water the seedlings twice every day.
- Your microgreens will be ready within 4 weeks.
- Take any container ranging from leftover plastic dining plates flat flower pots. Add your soil up to 2 inches thick.
- Sprinkle a handful perlite on the soil. Pearlite will retain and ensure a constant and adequate supply of water.
- Moisten the soil by spraying water.
- Now spread another handful or two of soil as a third layer.
- Scatter your seeds across the soil, spray water again thoroughly.
- Add another layer of soil mixed with pearlite as the last and top layer. This should be a handful of soil as you don’t want a thick layer sitting on the top of the seeds.
- Place the container in a dark and warm place for several days.
- Spray water once or twice a day to ensure the soil remains moist.
- Irrespective of what verity you are growing, the seeds should germinate in a couple of days.
- Once the seeds sprout, take the container out into the open as adequate exposure to sunlight is crucial at this stage.
- Your microgreens will be ready in 3 to 4 weeks.
The seven microgreen packed with nutrients
Here is the list of 10 best microgreens to grow at home.
- Swiss Chard
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