Microgreens – Superfood of the Future?

by in Aquaponics, Food December 6, 2018

Researchers have found that microgreens contain up to five times more vitamins and minerals than their fully grown counterparts. With quick grow times and distinct flavors, could these greens become a popular superfood?

Researching this new superfood feels like a glimpse into the future. These power-packed, nutrient dense greens are a quick addition to any meal and can be grown and enjoyed right in your own home! One can consume microgreens in a range of ways including seasoning, juicing, in a wrap and even as a garnish in fine dining. Their fast grow times and variety of health benefits makes them the perfect greens to grow yourself.  

What are Microgreens?

Microgreens are vegetables that are harvested shortly after the sprouting stage begins. They are smaller than baby greens but more developed than sprouts. There is a wide range of different vegetables that can be harvested as microgreens, including beets, kale, basil, arugula, and cilantro. They consist of a central stem, cotyledon leaves, and usually a couple pairs of small true leaves. Cotyledon leaves are seed leaves. The seed contains these leaves before sprouting. Depending on the type of plant, microgreens can be anywhere from one to several inches long, and come in a variety of colors.

Because harvesting is done soon after the germination period, there are distinct differences between these plants and their mature plant counterparts. Microgreens contain high amounts of nutrients used for the growth and development of the plant. This affects their nutritional value as well as their taste and texture.

Health Benefits:

    The benefits of microgreens are similar to most other nutrient-dense plants in nature. The difference is that microgreens actually contain more nutrients than their mature plant versions. Researchers at the University of Maryland discovered that red cabbage microgreens had “40 times more vitamin E and six times more vitamin C than mature red cabbage”[1]. Many other microgreens contain high levels of these vitamins as well as others such as vitamin K and beta-carotene. Why is this the case? Because microgreens are harvested after the germination stage, they contain large amounts of all the nutrients needed for the plant to grow and develop.

These vitamins and nutrients serve many health benefits to the human body. They are important for the eyes and skin, and can strengthen the immune system to help the body fight disease. They are also known for being incredibly high in antioxidants and as a result are great for detoxifying the body. This can lead to improvements in digestive and hormonal health as well.

Use of Microgreens:

Microgreens have a concentrated flavor as a result of high concentrations of vitamins, minerals and carotenoids. These chemical components affect the taste of  plants. In the culinary arts, microgreens appear in several different forms. Microgreens are commonly used as a garnish for fine dining, due to their strong taste and small size. In fact, they used to only be readily available to top chefs. In addition to their undeniable aesthetic appeal as a garnish, microgreens also make an incredible addition to any seasoning because of their potency. If you prefer  a stronger taste, try using microgreens on top of salads or sandwiches to add extra flavor and give your meal a health boost.

Ease of Growth:

Microgreens are an incredible food, but they are pricier than regular vegetables. Luckily, microgreens are super easy and quick to grow on your own! In our aquaponic systems, we have harvested microgreens after only five days from planting the seed directly into the growbed. The increased availability to nutrients in an aquaponic setting helps to maximize growth rates. Check out our aquaponics page for more information on how these systems work! You too can grow a variety of microgreens in your own home with our indoor aquaponic systems. They take up little room, so even those living in a small apartment can be comfortable growing microgreens. Aquaponic systems are very simple to maintain. Just feed the fish – the rest of the system is self sustainable.

Moving forward with sustainability and efficiency in mind, it looks like microgreens have the potential to play a key role in the promotion of dietary health for the average individual. Offering a wide range of health and flavor benefits, the use of microgreens can be applied to many dishes and vegetables. The simplicity to grow these nutrient packed superfoods makes them ideal for adding value to meals and homes everywhere.

Information References:

  1. Warner, J. (2012, August 31). Tiny Microgreens Packed With Nutrients. Retrieved December 6, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20120831/tiny-microgreens-packed-nutrients#1
  2. Laing, R. (2016, September 23). Tiny, Delicate, Flavorful: Microgreens. Retrieved December 5, 2018, from https://www.ice.edu/blog/tiny-delicate-flavorful-microgreens
  3. M. W. (2017, February 27). Microgreens: Health benefits and growing tips. Retrieved December 5, 2018, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/316075.php
  4. Mellor, D., Georgousopoulou, E., & Naumovski, N. (2018, September 19). Health Check: Are microgreens better for you than regular greens? Retrieved December 5, 2018, from https://theconversation.com/health-check-are-microgreens-better-for-you-than-regular-greens-73950

Image References:

  1. Clean Plates. (2017, August 21). Why you need microgreens in your life. Retrieved December 5, 2018, from https://www.cleanplates.com/know/nutrition/microgreens-small-but-mighty/

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