What are microgreens?
Microgreens are just miniature greens. Greens like lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, root vegetables, and herbs. They are bigger than sprouts but smaller than baby lettuce. The plants are harvested when they are about a week or two old. The reason for this is they are actually more nutritious than the full sized plants. The flavor is also much fuller when they are smaller.
There are many different varieties of microgreens. The most popular use seeds from these families:
Brassicaceae family: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, radish, and arugula
Asteraceae family: Lettuce, endive, chicory, and radicchio
Apiaceae family: Dill, carrot, fennel, and celery
Amaryllidaceae family: Garlic, onion, leek
Amaranthaceae family: Amaranth, quinoa swiss chard, beet and spinach
Cucurbitaceae family: Melon, cucumber, and squash
Cereals such as oats, rice, wheat, corn, and barley, legumes like chickpeas, beans, and lentils, as well as herbs are also grown as microgreens.
Most varieties of microgreens are high in potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium and copper and they often have levels of vitamins. Vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. They are also rich in anti-oxidants including polyphenols.
Polyphenols have been linked to lowering cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Polyphenol has also been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Other anti-oxidants contained in microgreens may also lower your risk of diabetes and certain types of cancers.
One study measured the levels of vitamins and anti-oxidants in 25 of the most popular microgreens and then compared them to the levels recorded in the USDA National Nutrient Database for mature leaves.
Even though vitamin and anti-oxidant levels did vary, on average the levels in microgreens were up to 40 times higher than their mature counterparts.
How are they grown?
Microgreens can be grown in soil or on what is called grow mats. Grow mats are usually made out of coconut or hemp. They are there just so the roots have something to grab on to. Using grow allows for a cleaner batch of greens. However, some varieties such as Swiss chard can only be grown in soil.
At Osuch Greens, the majority of our greens are green with grow mats, except for the few that require soil. They are all grown naturally, without any chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers.
Why are microgreens better than sprouts?
Sprouts like broccoli sprouts or alfalfa sprouts require more humidity and heat than microgreens. Also, the entire sprout is consumed. With microgreens, only the top of the stem is eaten.
With the humid and warm conditions that sprouts are grown in, there is more chance for bacteria growth. Whereas microgreens the potential is much smaller.
If you want to read more about microgreens and read some of the studies that have been done on them here are some more articles on them.