In my previous post “Superfoods, What Are They?” I introduced the idea that microgreens should be on your superfoods list, so now I am going to look into the question; Are microgreens a superfood? To answer this question I will look at what microgreens are, the difference between microgreens and sprouts, what are the healthy benefits of microgreens and which microgreens have the highest nutritional value and what is the best way to get your microgreens.
What Are Microgreens
Microgreens are edible vegetable and herb seeds that germinated and grew until they produced their first set of “true leaves”. It takes anywhere from 7 to 14 days to reach the harvest able size, three to five days in complete darkness right after the seeds are planted and then they are placed on a counter top in a room with plenty of windows to allow enough sunlight in or a growing rack with grow lights for 4 to 7 days, until time to harvest. The seedlings, usually only reach a size of 4 to 6 inches in height, depending on the seed variety planted.
Are Microgreens And Sprouts The Same
No Microgreens and sprouts are not the same thing. The main difference between sprouts and microgreens is, sprouts are usually germinated in a jar with water for a few days, until they taste good and some like alfalfa sprouts are moved to a tray to straighten up and grow taller. Microgreens are grown in a growing media/soil or on a grow fiber mat, sometimes with some organic or inorganic fertilizer and minerals added to speed up the germination or improve the microgreens nutritional value and other times, microgreens have nothing added to speed up germination or improve the microgreens nutritional value.
Healthy Benefits of Microgreens
Since microgreens are germinated seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs, the microgreens have all the same vitamins and minerals and nutrients that the mature vegetable or herb plants have and even more, particularly vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and lutein. As it turns out a study in 2012 on the nutritional value of microgreens concluded that, microgreens actually have 4 to 40 time the nutritional value of the mature plant, with the same or more intense flavor and good texture. The researchers were so surprised by their results that they had to quickly double and even triple check the results. So far only 25 different varieties of commercially grown microgreens have been tested by this group of researchers, so more research is still needed to determine nutritional value of the different types of microgreens available.
What Microgreens Have The Highest Nutritional Value
There were four microgreens that were tested and were found to be extremely high in vitamins and nutrients, they are Green Daikon Radish, Red Cabbage, Garnet Amaranth and Cilantro.
Red Cabbage was found to have extremely high amounts of Vitamin K, Vitamin E, and vitamin C which are extremely important in fighting cancer and for the eyes and skin.
Cilantro was found to have the highest concentration of beta-carotene and lutein which can help slow cognitive decline, retain lung strength and is good for the eyes.
Garnet Amaranth was also extremely high in vitamin C, Vitamin K and vitamin E. Good for the eyes, skin and can help fight cancer.
Green Daikon Radish was extremely high also in vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin E. Again known to help fight cancer and is good for the eyes and skin.
Best way to get Microgreens
There are two main ways to get microgreens, The first and easiest way is to buy the microgreens at your local farmers market or local organic foods store and you can sometimes find some microgreens in a regular grocery stores produce department. The main thing to remember when purchasing microgreens is to find the darkest colored microgreens because they are typically the richest in vitamins and nutrients.
For those people with a green thumb, the second easiest way to get microgreens is to grow some microgreens for yourself. Take a shallow bowl or planter, using enough potting soil to cover the bottom of the container with about half an inch of soil, sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil with one layer of seeds covering the soil but do not put in too much seed ( only one layer of seed is needed), cover the seed with a very thin layer of potting soil. Sprinkle the seed with water, just until the soil is moist and cover with a dark lid or place in a black trash bag or place in a closet or other dark spot in the house, as long as it stays room temperature you should be OK. Sprinkle the seeds with water daily, after the third day ( if the seeds germinated they will look very pale ) take the planter out of its dark growing environment and put the container in a place that gets plenty of natural light or under a grow light. Sprinkle water daily for about 10 days or until the microgreens are tall enough to cut or when they taste the best.
So in Conclusion
I really believe microgreens should be on your list of superfoods to start adding to your diet. Based on the new research proving that the microgreens are typically richer in vitamins and nutrients than the mature plant of the same type, it certainly can not hurt to start adding them to salads and soups but you may want to add some microgreens to your smoothies, just remember the flavor is pretty strong. Just do not cook the microgreens since microgreens are mainly water.