What are Microgreens?
In the modern world, foods are more than their nutritional value. People are moving more toward organic foods that offer health benefits and are also palatable. One such food category is microgreens.
Microgreens are young and small seedlings of vegetables and herbs that are edible. Regular vegetables and herbs take months to grow. But in the case of microgreens, they can be harvested within a week to ten days.
These microgreens serve as an alternative food during the drought and can also give you the nutrients your body needs. These microgreens are harvested once the leaves start to grow from the cotyledon.
These microgreens grow to a few inches and are available in different varieties. These microgreens are comparatively high in cost when compared to traditional greens.
After every harvesting, these microgreens require fresh seeds, soil and a clean or sterilised container. The process of growth continues on a new earth.
Sprouts are different from microgreens. The sprouts grow in water, whereas microgreens require proper soil and sunlight for growth. Sprouts require only two days for growth, and microgreens take ten days to grow.
Microgreens contain essential minerals that can only be acquired from dietary sources. Essential minerals are classified into two groups, microelements and macroelements.
Microelements are also called as trace elements. Zinc, iron, manganese and copper are microelements, whereas sodium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium are macroelements.
Types of Microgreens
Microgreens are available in different types to satisfy your taste buds. They can be grown with various types of seeds, and there are almost 60-70 types of microgreens.
Brassicaceae is a common flowering plant which grows in a medium size. Mustards, cabbages and crucifers belong to this family. These plants are mostly herbs, and some are shrubs.
The Asteraceae family contains the largest flowering plants. The Asteraceae family includes a wide range of shrubs, herbs and trees. The Asteraceae plants are characterised by the one-seeded achene fruits and composite flowers.
Plants like marigolds, chrysanthemums, asters, dandelions and dahlias. Lettuce and artichokes are also categorised under this family. These flowering plants and herbs are ideal for microgreens growth.
Apiaceae are mostly aromatic flowering plants. The Apiaceae family contains about 434 genera. Carrots, celery, coriander, cumin, fennel and parsley.
Carrots, parsley, parsnip and celery are common for microgreens growth.
The Amaryllidaceae family are mostly herbaceous and are flowering plants. It is commonly known as the amaryllis family.
Amaranth, beets, chard and quinoa are commonly grown microgreens.
Amaranthaceae is commonly called as amaranth. It is a flowering plant, mainly used as an alternative for wheat products.
Amaranth microgreens are easy to grow and take about two days to germinate. They can be harvested in 8-12 days.
Cucurbitaceae is a group of flowering plants that are generally gourd. Cucurbitaceae employs about 98 genera which have both ornamental and food plants.
Some of the common plants are melons, gourds, cucumbers, pumpkins and squashes. These plants can also be used for microgreens growth.
How to grow microgreens?
Microgreens have attracted many commercial farms and can be easily harvested at home. They can be grown in your garden and also in the kitchen.
Microgreens require sunlight, soil, a sterilised container and water for growth. The seeds can be collected from supermarkets or any commercial farms. Some of the preferred seeds are kale, spinach, peas, cabbage, basils and watercress.
Some small seeds require to be soaked in water before planting. Kale and peas have larger seeds and do not require soaking in water, whereas herbs such as basil and mustard are medium-sized and don’t require soaking in water before planting.
Seeds such as oregano, thyme, mint and tarragon are small seeds that must be soaked in water before planting. The seeds are ready to plant. If you want to plant the microgreens outdoors, break the existing soil to get fresh ground.
After setting the soil, place the seeds reasonably far away from each other, cover the seeds about 1/8 inch with soil, and press gently with your hands.
Water the seeds in such a way that they are not too wet or too dry. The soil will have a sponge consistency if your watering method is good. To avoid any damage to the seeds, use a spray bottle.
If you grow microgreens in your home, choose a plastic container and make few holes in the bottom for the water to drain. Fill the container with soil, plant the seeds as you did for outdoor planting and water the seeds.
Now the microgreens should be kept in a well-lit area in your house or where good sunlight is available. Do not overwater the seeds and only moisten the soil when it is dry.
Allow the microgreens to grow for ten days. The maximum period is two weeks, or once you see the leaves coming out from the seeds, it indicates it is ready to be harvested.
Now you can trim the leaves just slightly above the level of the soil. Once harvested, these microgreens will not grow after the first harvest. For the second harvest, new seeds and ground are required.
There are microgreens kits available in the market to reduce the work required for growth. The kit includes seed packets, soil discs, tray covers and compostable trays. You have to water the microgreens till they grow and harvest them once they grow fully.
Health benefits of microgreens
Microgreens have a wide range of nutrients that can be included in our diet. The benefits are listed below.
Controls Blood glucose levels
Microgreens contain sulforaphane, a natural compound. It is abundantly found in broccoli. Research has shown that sulforaphane effectively controls blood pressure and helps maintain a healthy blood glucose level.
In people with high blood glucose levels, it reduces symptoms and improves their quality of life.
Cleanse the digestive system
Microgreens regulate your gut microbiome and improve your gut health. Microorganism in the gut converts the foods we eat into antioxidants and other nutrients our body needs.
When the gut is fed microgreens, the gut microbiome utilises the bioavailable phytonutrients and converts them into antioxidants.
Treat sore throat
Microgreens contain antioxidants and vitamin C that can help with your sore throat.
Microgreens are considered as functional foods. Foods that have good effects apart from nutrition are called functional foods.
These foods contain carotenoids, polyphenols, vitamins, antioxidants and glucosinolates that have potential anti-cancer properties.
Keeps Heart Healthy
Microgreens contain fibre and vitamin K. These nutrients help to regulate blood flow and manage high blood pressure. These vitamins and minerals reduce the risk of heart-related problems and keep your heart healthy.
They also contain antioxidants and polyphenols that help lower the LDL cholesterol https://www.starhealth.in/blog/reduce-cholesterolhttps://www.starhealth.in/blog/reduce-cholesterollevel and reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Aids in tissue repair
Microgreens are high in essential amino acids that help to repair your damaged tissues. They are rich in chlorophyll and they are good for people who want to build their muscles.
Bioactive compounds like phenolics, phylloquinone, tocopherol, ascorbic acid, minerals and vitamins are in higher proportions in microgreens than in their mature ones.
Nutritional Facts of Microgreens
According to FoodData Central, 100 grams of sunflower and basil microgreens contains the following nutrients.
|Vitamin A||79.6mcg (micrograms)|
How to include microgreens in your Daily Diet?
Microgreens can be included in your diet in any form. You can add them to your favourite salad or smoothie. Smoothie. It can also be added to your sandwiches, noodles and pastas. They taste good with any food.
Microgreens can be added to all types of foods like
- Pizzas, burgers, sandwiches.
- Juices and smoothies
- To your main dish
- Garnish your salads, breads and soups
- Will give flavour and natural colour to your omelette.
Microgreens can be included in your diet in various ways. They are considered as whole foods as they offer a wide range of nutrients required for the body.
They can also be grown at home and require very less space. They help to safeguard your body from various health issues. They can be included in your diet in multiple forms.
Which Microgreen is the healthiest?
Pea microgreens are considered the healthiest.
Are microgreens healthier than vegetables?
Microgreens are considered a healthier option than vegetables. Microgreens are nutrient-dense and have a concentrated source of vitamins and minerals.
What are microgreens, and why are they good for you?
Microgreens are young, tender, small greens that usually grow up to a few inches. They are considered as functional foods and can be a potential substitute for sprouts.
Which microgreens are nutritious?
Microgreens like red cabbage, radish and cilantro contain up to 40 times higher nutritional value than mature vegetables.
Do microgreens boost the immune system?
Microgreens contain a wide range of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients that help to boost your immunity.
How much microgreens should you eat a day?
The recommended dietary allowance is up to 20 pounds of microgreens for a week.