The link between what you eat and how you look and feel has never been clearer. Over the last several years, a culture of food awareness has blossomed in North America. Still, the legacy of fast food and the TV dinner – a plethora of unpronounceable additives, preservatives, and substitutes have found their way into almost every prepared food item. To boot, it also isn’t easy to parse which types of fresh produce are safe, healthy, or even ethical to consume. But, we may have found a winner in a new sub food group called microgreens.
It is no secret to most of us that in order to maintain a balanced diet, we need to consume plenty of green, leafy vegetables each day. But, what most people don’t know is that microgreens contain highly concentrated amounts of all the “good stuff” in tiny sprout-like packages. In fact, one recent study found that microgreens like cilantro, red cabbage, and radishes contain up to forty times the level of vital nutrients than their more mature counterparts.
What are Microgreens?
In essence, microgreens are the younger seedlings of mature edible vegetables and herbs that are harvested less than fourteen days after germination has occurred. Microgreens usually range between one to three inches in length and are available in a rainbow of colors, which makes them popular as garnishes for chefs.
Microgreens Possess an Abundance of Nutrients
Though all fruits and vegetables can benefit health, microgreens tend to contain more vital nutrients than other options. In fact, one study concluded that red cabbage microgreens contained forty times more Vitamin E and six times more Vitamin C than red cabbage (http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20120831/tiny-microgreens-packed-nutrients?src=RSS_PUBLIC). This study focused on four groups of vital nutrients in twenty-five commercially grown microgreens. In addition to elevated nutrient levels, microgreens are also more potent and intense in flavor, so a little is sufficient for most.
Separating Microgreens from Other Veggie Imposters
Since microgreens are the young offspring of mature vegetables, they are often confused with sprouts. However, while sprouts are seeds that have germinated in water (usually within 48 hours), microgreens require at least seven days to grow before they can be harvested. It is important to separate these two plant forms, due to a recent outbreak of E. Coli. in sprouts which is not relevant to microgreens (http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/08/29/160274163/introducing-microgreens-younger-and-maybe-more-nutritious-vegetables). Though precaution must always be taken with any fresh food source, microgreens provide many desirable benefits for consumers.
Due to their high nutrient content, microgreens are beneficial to health and maintaining a vibrant, youthful look. Partaking in a daily vitamin shot with microgreens can leave individuals looking and feeling younger. In addition, mass amounts of vitamins can be achieved with a smaller amount of vegetable intake when consuming microgreens over their more mature relatives.