Why we should learn to love microgreens
By now you’ve heard of microgreens, they’re one of the hottest trends in the food and nutrition world. People wanting to improve their health are adding them into their smoothies, soups, sandwiches and even growing them at home.
What are they?
Microgreens are the seedlings of vegetables and herbs. They’re much smaller than vegetables, and even baby vegetables (like baby kale). They are not to be confused with beansprouts or alfalfa sprouts, which are the young seedlings typically eaten whole within a few days, and grown in water. Microgreens are harvested about 7-21 days after germination, are about 3-6cm tall and come in a rainbow of colours and flavours. They are micro versions of cress, basil, coriander, radish, rocket or sunflower greens for example.
Are they healthier?
YES! The best part about microgreens is they really pack the nutritional punch. A study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry analysed the levels of vitamin A, C, E, K and carotenoids of 25 different microgreens and compared them to their mature counterparts. Naturally nutrient levels varied, but all were more nutrient dense than mature leaves. The top microgreen for vitamin C was red cabbage, for carotenoids it was coriander, for vitamin K it was garnet amaranth and for vitamin E it was green daikon radish.
The nutrient levels in microgreens are much higher than the mature vegetable. For example, red cabbage microgreens contain 103mg of vitamin C per 100g, whilst the same weight of red cabbage leaves contain 69mg of vitamin C. In some cases, the nutrient levels are 4-6 times higher than their mature leaves.
What are their health benefits?
1. High in phytochemicals. Phytochemicals prevent the build up of free radicals, which is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease.
2. Help improve eyesight. Carotenoids, specifically lutein, found in leafy greens, reduces the risk of some eye diseases by protecting the eyes from damaging blue light.
3. Reduce chronic disease risk. Microgreens may reduce heart disease risk factors like bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and weight. They are high in vitamin K, which plays a role in blood clotting, regulating blood calcium levels as well as bone health.
How do I eat microgreens?
Like many herbs and spices that are nutrient dense, a little can go a long way. Microgreens are best eaten fresh and raw. Buy a container, wash them and add them to whatever you’re eating – salad, soup, smoothie, stew – they’ll add an interesting flavour profile to your meal.
The best part is that anyone can eat them! They are little, and children like things that are kid’s size, so can be a great addition to hummus, pasta or even soft cheese (think celery with cream cheese).
Microgreens are extremely delicate, and like any vegetable, need to be washed before eating. Because they have a high water content, I wouldn’t advise cooking them. They’ll wilt into nothing. They are best eaten raw.
Microgreens could be a ‘supercharged’ way to reach your 9-a-day, which most of us are struggling to do so. Not only are they highly nutritious, they are a great way to provide new, interesting flavours to your meals.
At Square Mile Farms we grow microgreens for local restaurants, businesses and customers. We also run 'grow-your-own' workshops where our head grower, Dish, teaches you how you can grow at home. If you're interested in learning more about microgreens you can sign up for our free workshops here.
This blog post has been written by Jill. Jill's our Nutritional Therapist, and helps people achieve and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, critical for optimal health and disease prevention. She provides personalised, science-based health programmes that address stressors and imbalances in the body. She has ten years of experience and has worked with clients from all over the world. She's also running a series of free seminars on nutrition and wellbeing at Paddington Central. You can sign up to these on our website here.