Micro and Sprouted Greens
Microgreens – what are they?
Microgreen is an umbrella term for multiple baby greens derived from a highly nutritious plant food, and harvested at an early stage. They have a strong and concentrated taste and colour. The specific nutritional value of each individual microgreen greatly depends on the type of plant it has derived from. Scientific research and evidence has found that Microgreens are of higher nutritional value when compared with their parent, mature leaf. (These studies were conducted by United States Department of Agriculature, and can be found on http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22812633).
The University of Maryland also analysed the composition of 25 commercially available microgreens, and their results support that of the USDA, quoting ‘the leaves had considerably higher nutritional densities than their adult mature leaf counterparts’.
So what are we talking about when we state ‘nutritional value’. The studies above revealed that different microgreens provide varying amounts of Vitamin A, C, E, K1 and carotenoids.
Other research suggests that as they have roots, they can uptake the minerals in the soil in which they are planted, and so may also contain trace amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and potassium. As with all green leafy vegetables, they are rich in antioxidants and plant chemcials which are critical in helping protect against cellular damage.
The ability of Microgreens to absorb sunlight provides the beautiful green colour – indicating their chlorophyll content. The deeper the green colour, the higher the chlorophyll levels. Chlorophyll in leaves converts sunlight energy into natural sugars and starches – basically food. For this reason, microgreens can be considered a carbohydrate food, with soluble fiber, and possibly some protein and essential fats. They contribute to maintaining healthy gut bacteria and thus help streghten the immune system. They are low density in terms of calories, and considered little powerhouses in terms of their overall living vitality.
Microgreens are an excellent addition to a healthy and balanced diet. Our recommended daily intake of 7 vegetables per day can be challenging to incorporate into our busy lifestyle. However, by introducing microgreens to your daily food plan, you can very simply increase your intake of green leafy vegetables. They are best eaten raw to protect the water soluble Vitamin C. To maximise the absorption of their fat soluble vitamin properties, e.g, Vit A, E & K, they should be consumed with some good fats e.g. olive oil, avocado.
Microgreens are generally consumed in small quantities, and are delicate, so wash carefully before eating. They are claimed to have potent cleansing/detoxifying properties, so introduce them gradually to your food plan if doing so for the first time. They can be juiced, used in smoothies, in sandwiches, as a garnish, or just simply eaten as a little snack.
Examples of these nutrient rich foods include Wheatgrass, Watercress, Kale, Rocket, Beetroot, Pea Shoots Broccoli and Sunflower greens. Specific nutritional information on of two of these:
Wheatgrass – is probably one of the more recognisable microgreens. It has strong detoxifying/ cleansing properties, and when used for the first time, should be introduced in small amounts and on a gradual basis. It is also claimed to exygenate and rebuild the blood, have an alkanising and blood sugaring balancing effect.
Broccoli greens– contain sulforaphane. This is a food chemical which is claimed to have strong anti-cancer properties. A new study is currently underway to assess the full extent of these claims, and details of this can be found on: