What are Microgreens?
The smaller green plants that are picked up before their maturation, around 2 weeks after the process of germination are called Microgreens
They are rich in flavour and nutrients and are about two to three inch tall. This miniature class contains all the vitamins and minerals present in fully grown plants. These are not the sprouts. The process involves letting the seeds sprout by soaking them in water to germinate.
Microgreens can be used up in salads or smoothies which boosts up the immunity whereas sprouts have greater chances of carrying bacteria which can cause food poisoning.
Since the time required to grow the microgreens is short, cost-effective and also can be grown in tiny space and anytime in the year, these are growers’ favourites.
Though these are mostly used to garnish, they can also be a main ingredient in salads which have extreme dietary contents.
Microgreens are enriched in vital nutrients-
Microgreens hold in higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than fully grown plants or vegetables.
Studies proved that the microgreens contain 40 times more nutrients when compared to full sized species.
Higher levels of Vitamin A, B, C, copper, calcium, iron, zinc, antioxidants, protein, fibres, polyphenols, magnesium folate etc depending on the types.
Microgreens prevent dreadful diseases-
As microgreens contain antioxidants in high concentration, it can reduce the risk of several types of diseases like,
Heart Disease: Microgreens containing polyphenol antioxidants that can reduce the chances of heart diseases by lowering the bad cholesterol levels and inflammatory responses.
Cancer: Inducing higher concentration of polyphenols in diet, will also lower the risk of some types of cancer.
Diabetes: Studies proven that these antioxidants betters insulin response in body and glucose metabolism upto 44%
Alzheimer’s Disease: The chances of Alzheimer’s disease can be inhibited by consumption of these antioxidants.
Nutrients in microgreens
Nutrients present in fully grown plants are also available in microgreens, in fact in higher concentration which helps in preventing diseases, body weight management and in boosting up mental and physical health.
Unstable water molecules produced in the body which are harmful are known as free radicals and can be evacuated by the antioxidants.
Natural body processes and environmental pressures such as pollution can result in the production of free radicals which damage cells and sometimes lead to cancer like diseases.
Though the body is capable of eliminating the free radicals, there is a higher chance of accumulation. Antioxidants present in the plant based food removes the accumulated ones.
Different microgreens comprise high content of several types of antioxidants which helps in preventing diseases.
Microgreens of broccoli belonging to the Brassica family are composed of a magnificent amount of Vitamin E which is a phenolic antioxidant.
Lettuce and chicory from the Asteraceae family contains Vitamin A in concentric levels which are carotenoid antioxidants.
Kale microgreens contain Vitamin C which is a powerful water-soluble antioxidant which boosts up the body’s immune system.
Nutrition profile of each Microgreens:
Specific microgreens and their nutrients present in them-
Red cabbage- Ascorbic acid
Green daikon radish-Tocopherols
China rose radish- Total glucosinolates
Red radish- Total tocopherol
Ruby radish-Total phenolic compounds, DPPH radical scavenging capacity
Swiss chard- Magnesium
Purple basil- Ascorbic acid
Green basil- Beta-carotene
Microgreens belonging to the genus Brassica were found to possess polyphenols. It is reported that 165 phenolic compounds are present mainly cyanidin aglycones, glycosylated and acylated quercetin, kaempferol, benzoic acid and complex hydroxycinnamic acid. Lettuce microgreens contain minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, manganese, selenium, molybdenum in higher concentration.
Studies proved that the microgreens belonging to the Brassicaceae family are an excellent source of ascorbic acid, polyphenols, tocopherols, phylloquinone, carotenoids, glucosinolates, macroelements like Potassium and Calcium, and microelements like Iron and Zinc. Highest bioaccessible fraction for ascorbic acid, total carotenoids and total isothiocyanates were found to be in radish and mustard whereas radish, broccoli and kale for total polyphenols. Broccoli has the lowest bioaccessible value for potassium and mustard has the highest value for magnesium.
100g of mixture of basil and sunflower microgreen will have:
|Vitamin C||6.6 mg|
|Vitamin A||79.6 mcg|
g- grams, mg- milligrams, mcg- micrograms
What happens when microgreens are used as functional foods ?
Since microgreens are richer in the nutrients than when compared to the full size plants or vegetables, they can be consumed for a better well-being.
Microgreens can be included in diet to prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus. They also reduce gain in body weight, reduce hepatic cholesterol ester, level in triglyceride, inflammatory cytokines and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level.
Hence it is important to include these tiny greens in our diet to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.