Microgreens – Nature’s Vitamin Powerhouse

Microgreens – Nature’s Vitamin Powerhouse

Microgreens sometimes called vegetable confetti are a colorful gourmet alternative to sprouting. These seedlings are often chosen for their flavor, color and texture. They will be harvested in  less than 14 days with short stems and deeply colored cotyledons. They are best grown in bright natural light rather than artificial lighting. The Vitamin D from the sunlight creates better flavor, color and a longer shelf life. These microgreens are excellent garnishes to salads, sandwiches and soups. There are so many varieties such as beet or purple mustard, kale, arugula, broccoli, sunflower, basil, pea and many more being grown all over the world.

Researcher Gene Lester from U.S. Dept. of Agriculture at U of Maryland, College Park  analyzed the nutrients in microgreens. He and his colleagues published their findings in  Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The study measured the vitamin C , E, Beta Carotene, mineral and phytonutrient content in 25 varieties of microgreens. The results indicated four to six times higher concentration of nutrients in the seedlings compared to the mature leaves of the same plant. Red cabbage was the highest in vitamin C and green daikon radish microgreens had the most vitamin E .

A Yale study on pea microgreens and amaranth revealed high amounts of Vitamin K concentrations. When these seedlings were exposed to light the levels of Vitamin K were greatly increased. Vitamin K maintains strong healthy bones and prevents excessive bruising. It is also necessary for normal blood clotting. Adding these microgreens to your daily diet would be beneficial especially for seniors with osteoporosis.

It is important to mention that when either purchasing or growing microgreens yourself, it’s best to avoid genetically modified seeds. Remember that once the greens are harvested they need to be eaten quickly or refrigerated as they will lose their vitality. You can find trays of microgreens at local farmers markets and in many produce sections in health food markets. Check the delivery date from the store so you obtain the freshest and healthiest crop. Microgreen grow kits for windowsills are available online from UncommonGoods.com.

Some differences between sprouts and microgreens are that microgreens need soil and sunlight and at least 7 to 10 days to grow before you can harvest them.  Sprouts are seeds soaked and germinated in water just long enough (48 hours) to grow roots a stem and a pale underdeveloped leaf.

Growing microgreens with your children at home is an enjoyable activity. They will follow the stages of growth from the sprouting and development of the stems and first few leaves. Then they can put them in their sandwiches after they harvest the seedlings. This learning exercise is both nutritional and educational and connects the family with the wonders of nature.