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What Are Microgreens? Their Health Benefits, Types, & Use

Microgreens Are Tiny Vegetable Seedlings Packed With Nutrition

by Lynette Abbott

The rewards of producing your own fruits and vegetables are in themselves rewarding. Having full knowledge of the ingredients in your vegetables somehow enhances their taste, and microgreens have a great deal of health benefits. Microgreens are harvested with scissors shortly after germination, when the plants are less than a month old, microgreens are characterized by a wide variety of edible immature greens.

What Are Microgreens?

Microgreens are tiny vegetable seedlings such as radishes, cabbage, and kale, and they can also be herbs like cilantro and basil and even flowers like sunflowers. These are tiny seedlings that they start from seed and you harvest them anywhere between 7 to 14 days.

A microgreen is a young vegetable grain that is used both as a visual and flavor component or ingredients clearly in fine dining restaurants they could be used in your salad, burger, toppings, chili soup, taco, flatbread, or the gardeners can plant.

The numerous health benefits of microgreens sprouted sunflower greens for instance contain up to 100 times the enzymes of regular homegrown greens which help your body to more easily assimilate importing phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. As sprouted sunflower microgreens contain folate, vitamins A B complex, C, D, and E.  By adding microgreens into the dietary plan will boost the flavor and increase its nutritional value.


All the organic microgreens are the way to go both colorful and flavorful as well as they will transform your dishes. They are just a couple inches tall and they’re jammed packed with nutrients they’re also very flavorful and can be very colorful as well.

MicrogreensMoreover, they are packed with nutrients actually according to studies microgreens can hold up to 40 times higher concentrations of vigorous nutrients than fully matured plants. Therefore, these tiny greens are not just jam-packed with flavor but they also have a bunch of nutrients that you can get from consuming them. Therefore, they are now gaining popularity among consumers.

For instance, red cabbage microgreens have 40 percent more vitamin E and 6 percent more vitamin C than the fully grown cabbage plant. All these extra nutrients just aid in improving health and fighting diseases such as cancer.

The Difference Between Sprouts And Microgreens

Well, sprouting is a practice of germinating seeds and you can germinate all kinds of seeds from leafy greens to legumes, whole grains nuts, and seeds. Seeds have a dormant germ inside of them and it’s brought to life when it’s soaked in water and kept in optimal moisture conditions to germinate.


It doesn’t need any sunlight when you think about it these are designed to start their lives under the soil in the dark outdoors. To sprout these seeds doesn’t need any additional nutrients either it’s only using the nutrients that it has stored inside of itself. To sprout all you have to do is give it the water that it needs once you do that your seeds start germinating.


Later, they officially sprout after 2 to 7 days of growth depending on seed and taste preference. And then these sprouts can be used as roots and as an under developing stem, leaves. However, all types of seeds can sprout but not all plants are meant to be eaten as sprouts some are toxic at this stage so very keen precautions are needed to select sprouts for your garden.


Difference Between Sprouts And MicrosOn the other hand, most, plants begin their lives with seeds and sprouts. Microgreens are essentially young sprouts that kept maturing for a week or two longer but in different environmental conditions. Usually, seedlings after about a week or so run out of their energy stores, and to keep growing they need sunlight to start photosynthesizing and nutrient-rich soil or a hydroponic system for further nutrition.

Therefore, to support their roots microgreens grow longer about one to three inches in height which makes them different from sprouts and have nutritional differences, however, smaller than baby greens. Scientifically, a micro green doesn’t become a microgreen until its true leaves develop.

The first set of leaves on sunflower microgreen are the cotyledons these come from the seeds and embryo. The second set of leaves that are starting to grow here for the cotyledons splits and is known as the true leaves. They develop from the plant stem and once the true leaves appear it turns into a microgreen.  It’s the true leaves that actually make them micro greens else they will be termed as soil sprouts.

However, a lot of companies that sell seeds for sprouts and micro greens refer to these soil sprouts as microgreens asking you to harvest them when the first leaves appear and pea shoots which are technically shoots not micro greens are also commonly referred to as microgreens.

Read More: How To Grow Microgreens From Start To Finish (Complete Guide)

The Health Benefits

The primary two health reasons to sprout your seeds are to remove toxins and maximize their nutritional value which increases their consuming quality and export value.

All seeds have toxins to protect themselves from being eaten by bacteria fungus and by animals because without these toxins, as an evolutionary strategy, the seeds would not survive during soaking. As the first step in the sprouting process, those toxic substances are reduced as the seeds begin to germinate.

For instance, raw lentils have lectins which are anti-nutritional proteins in them but sprouting reduces, and moreover, you can also reduce them by cooking. As we know that nutritionist does not recommend cooking as food end up losing a lot of its nutritional value therefore to overcome this factor sprouts and micro greens are the best option.

Health Benefits of MicrogreensMoreover, if we compare a sprout with a dry seed or a sprout with its fully grown counterpart a lot of the time the sprout will have more vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, proteins, and essential fatty acids. These little seeds are packed with all the nutrients that they’ll need to grow without any sun or any additional nutrients for a week so enzymes in the seeds are rapidly converted all their concentrated nutrients into complex materials to help them grow into mature plants.

Sprouts are also the best enzyme-rich foods so these enzymes essentially pre-digest complex nutritional trip that was hard they pre-digest complex nutritional structures so they make them easily digestible and easily assimilated.

For example, carbohydrates will become simple sugars, complex proteins will become easily digestible amino acids, fats will be converted to fatty acids, and vitamin levels will surge so sprouts by design are meant to facilitate digestion.

Some of these nutrients include, but are not limited to:

  • Vitamin K: Strong bones and wound healing.
  • Vitamin C: Healthy immune system and wound healing.
  • Vitamin E: Healthy immune system and strong blood vessels.
  • Potassium: Heart, muscle, and nervous system function.
  • Zinc: Healthy immune system, nervous system, reproduction, wound healing.
  • Iron: Healthy immune system, energy production, wound healing, red blood cell formation.
  • Calcium: Bone formation, hormone function, muscle, and nervous system function.

These nutrients can help prevent health issues like inflammation, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Such a small plant may make a big difference!

Read More: Grow Microgreens On Your Counter: DIY Microgreen

Some Common Microgreens and Their Nutritional Importance

Lentils: Lentils are better sources of vitamin C sprouted and lentils are close to four times higher in concentration by weights of vitamin C than raw.

Mung Beans: Sprouted mung beans have vitamin K content that’s close to four times higher by weight than raw mung beans. So, you would need close to two cups of raw mung beans to eat to equal one cup of sprouted mung beans in terms of vitamin K. Sprouted mung beans are also close to three times more concentrated in vitamin C by weight than raw mung beans.

Radish: To get the equivalent of right so for vitamin A you would need to eat 19 cups of mature raw radishes to equal one cup of radish sprouts then for monounsaturated fatty acids you would need eight cups of mature raw radishes to equal one cup of sprouts. These sprouts are powerful they pack a mean punch of essential nutrients then you look at magnesium you need a cup and a half of mature radishes to equal one cup of sprouts but all of these numbers are just in terms of volume so if you look in terms of weight 100 grams of sprouted radishes have four and a half times more magnesium than raw mature radishes.

They have 56 times more vitamin A, they are 45 times more concentrated in monounsaturated fatty acids and they’re six times more concentrated in phosphorus. As compared to their mature counterpart’s radish sprouts are jam-packed with nutrients and then radishes are also consumed for their anti-cancer properties because they contain sulforaphane it’s a nutrient that has anti-cancer properties, anti-diabetic, and anti-microbial proper properties.

Cruciferous vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables, in general, are very high in sulforaphane like cabbage or wasabi or watercress for example and scientists attribute their high concentration of sulforaphane to decreased mortality to decreased cancer-specific mortality in particular in terms of bladder lung prostate, and breast cancers specifically.

Broccoli: Broccoli sprouts, in particular, are the number one best source of sulforaphane, fluorophen has anti-cancer properties to prevent cancer in mice that were exposed to carcinogens to slow cancer project progression in humans. It is a potential antidepressant too so they actually had a small clinical trial in 2011 where they found that broccoli sprouts which you know again, they’re the highest natural source of sulforaphane, eating these improve the behavioral behavior of individuals with autism.

Common Micros and Their NutritionalAnother smaller study that was conducted in 2015 found that the cognitive abilities of people with schizophrenia improved when given sulforaphane extract from broccoli sprouts. Broccoli sprouts are the number one best source they contain up to 100 times more sulforaphane precursor glucoraphanin than mature broccoli and are 20 to 50 times more concentrated in sulforaphane than fully grown broccoli. The sprouts are incredibly charged with nutritional value as compared to their mature counterparts.

Nuts: Sprouted leafy greens of grains of nuts they’re a source of whole protein as they hold all eight important amino acids which are the structural base of protein. To add more protein to your diet supplemented with a supplementing with a variety of sprouted seeds is an excellent way to do so. These sprouts also absorb minerals and trace elements from your rinsing water like iodine zinc selenium chromium cobalt and silicon to get those essential minerals and trace elements.

Garnet Amaranth: In 2012 there was a study done by Chao Wang and Easter at the University of Maryland. These guys looked at 25 commercially available sprouts and their nutrition as compared to their fully grown counterparts. The 2012 study was the first study of its kind because there’s only a handful of data on sprouts and micro greens. They found so compared to mature garnet amaranth micro greens have 11 percent more vitamin C, and four percent more vitamin K.

Red cabbage: Red cabbage micro greens have six percent more vitamin C and 20 percent more lutein seeing xanthan 40 percent more vitamin E and 200 to get this 260 times more beta carotene. It was solid proof that baby plants were absolutely packed with much more nutrients than their mature selves. The best sources of certain vitamins and carotenoids with vitamin C are microgreens. Moreover, vitamin C is an important vitamin for immune system strength but it also helps prevent cardiovascular disease, eye diseases, and prenatal health problems.

Among many other things, its highest concentration is found in red cabbage which is a true superpower microgreen. Red cabbage leaves in a fruit smoothie and colicin carotenoids are the next carotenoids that help reduce the risk of cancers and eye diseases. Better carotenoids in particular they’re a precursor to vitamin A or retinol which promotes healthy skin healthy mucous membranes for good eye health and vision and a strong immune system.

Red sorrel: Red sorrel tailed by cilantro red cabbage and pepper cress have wasabi-green basil tendril, Garnet Amaranth, which are also good sources of beta-carotene. The 2012 study found that all 25 microgreens they tested had either the same amount were much more beta carotene than carrots.

Cereals: Cilantro and red cereal and red cabbage keep vitamin K or quinone which supports bone health and it’s used to treat certain bleeding disorders. In addition, garnet amaranth came in first place for the best source of vitamin K followed by red sorrel green basil p tendrils.

Read More: Devon Microfarmers Grows The Tastiest Microgreens You Can Imagine

Role of Reducing Disease Risk

There is also the possibility that they reduce the chances of developing the following diseases:

  • Alzheimer’s disease: High polyphenol-containing foods, such as antioxidant-rich foods, may lower the risks of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Certain cancers: Many types of cancer may be prevented by consuming fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants and polyphenols. It is possible that polyphenol-rich microgreens will have similar effects.
  • Diabetes: A healthy diet may reduce the type of stress that prevents sugar from being absorbed properly by the cells. The cellular sugar uptake of fenugreek micro greens was found to be 25–44% greater in laboratory tests.
  • Heart disease: The polyphenols in micro greens, an antioxidant class associated with heart health, could contribute to a reduction in heart disease risk. The study of microgreens on animals suggests that they can lower triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol.

In a 2012 study, they found that 18 out of the 25 microgreens they tested had levels of vitamin K that were equal to or higher than broccoli which shows that many microgreens can really serve as an excellent source of vitamin K. Therefore, it is very important to know best quality food and immediately before you plan on eating them you must ensure they have the absolute best nutrients inside.

The Different Types of Microgreens

There are literally hundreds of different types of micro greens. Not only are most types of vegetables able to be grown as micro greens but also other plants including some flowers, some grains such as rice and barley (less popular) are also grown as microgreens, as are some legumes such as mung beans.

The diversity of types means that microgreens can offer a wide range of investment opportunities, tastes, colors, and textures to choose from. Although each type of micro green may be different. They are all easy and quick to grow whilst micro greens can be grown from many different families of plants.

They are mainly grown from just six plant families:

  • Amaranthaceae Family: Quinoa Swiss Chard, Amaranth, Spinach, and Beet.
  • Amaryllidaceae Family: Onion, Garlic, and Leek.
  • Apiaceae Family: Fennel, Carrot, Dill, and Celery.
  • Asteraceae Family: Chicory, Endive, Lettuce, and Radicchio.
  • Brassicaceae Family: Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Radish, Watercress, and Arugula.
  • Cucurbitaceae Family: Cucumber, Melon, and Squash.

Different Types of Micro greensMost of these families of plants are already well known but not necessarily for their microgreens. Brassicaceae family this family of plants is probably best known as cauliflower, arugula, cabbage, broccoli, radish, and watercress. This plant family contains over 1 500 species.

It is believed they were first used in Europe 8000 years ago for most of this time they have been consumed as fully grown vegetables and have only recently been used as microgreens and also adapted as a business as well.

The asteraceae family was thought to have originated in Argentina five million years ago this plant family is perhaps one of the largest. To most people, this family is best known for flowers such as marigolds, chrysanthemums, dahlias, asters, and dandelions. It also includes many spices and species which would be ideal as microgreens such as lettuce and artichokes an Apiaceae family.

Some members of this family of plants like hemlock and fool’s parsley are poisons the non-poisonous varieties have long been used as herbs and spices, cumin, anise, dill, and coriander are examples of some spice and herb varieties. The vegetables in this family are probably more popular as micro greens among those vegetables are carrots parsley, parsnip, and celery.

Amaryllidaceae family is mainly found in subtropical or tropical climates this family is possibly best known for its daffodils and snowdrops. The family does however contain other better-known species such as leeks garlic onion and chives. Amaranthaceae family is often red in color. This family of plants includes beets such as chard garden beets and sugar beets in the past.

Due to their nutritional value, some of these plants have been grown for use as pseudo-grain crops. Only now are they being grown as microgreens for that same nutritional value. In particular, quinoa has become popular in the 21st century due to its very high nutritional value Cucurbitaceae family this family of plants is usually only found in tropical or sub-tropical areas as they can be susceptible to freezing.

However, that is not a problem if grown under normal conditions as microgreens. Microgreens can be grown anywhere in the world regardless of climate. Often known for their vines this family of plants includes melons, gourds, squashes, cucumbers, and pumpkins growing your own microgreens is easy.

However, it’s essential to use the correct seeds this means not only ensuring you buy the correct type of micro green seeds but also seeds specifically for growing microgreens.

How Do You Actually Use Microgreens?

Microgreens can be incorporated into your diet in many ways.

In addition to bread and wraps, they can be used for many other dishes. You can also blend these greens into smoothies or make juice from them. Wheatgrass juice is a popular example of a juiced microgreen.

Alternatively, they may be used as a topping on pizza, soup, omelet, curry, and other warm dishes. A variety of cold and warm dishes can feature microgreens, you may either eat them raw, juice them or blend them.

Many chefs will garnish their plates with them to add a splash of color but you can also eat them as a garnish on potato salad, egg salad, and even as part of omelets, burgers, or burgers, and Caesar salad. Because of this multipurpose use, microgreens are in demand and market trends increase.

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