What are Microgreens?
Let’s get the facts….
Also known as "vegetable confetti," microgreens are sometimes confused with sprouts — germinated seeds that are eaten root, seed and shoot. Microgreens, however, include a variety of edible immature greens, harvested with scissors less than a month after germination, when the plants are up to 2 inches tall. *www.gardeners.org*
A cotyledon or "seed leaf” from Greek the word for "cup, bowl" is a significant part of the embryo within the seed of a plant, and is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "The primary leaf in the embryo of the higher plants; the seed-leaf.“ Wikipedia*
Microgreens vs. Sprouts:
Microgreens have three basic parts: a central stem, cotyledon leaf or leaves, and typically the first pair of very young true leaves. They vary in size depending upon the specific variety grown. Microgreens are usually grown in a growing medium such as soil, coir, or a substrate. Microgreens are typically 2–4 weeks old from germination to harvest.
Sprouts are germinated seeds and are typically consumed as an entire plant (root, seed, and shoot), depending on the species. Sprouts are legally defined, and have additional regulations concerning their production and marketing due to their relatively high risk of microbial contamination compared to other greens.
Microgreens Provide More Nutrition Than Mature Leaves
A 2010 study published in the Journal of American Society for Horticultural Science reported that young lettuce seedlings, harvested 7 days after germination, had the highest antioxidant capacity as well as the highest concentrations of health-promoting phenolic compounds, compared with their more mature counterparts.
A few years later, a team of scientists from the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture analyzed the nutrient composition of 25 commercially available microgreen varieties. They discovered that in general microgreen cotyledon leaves had considerably higher nutritional densities than their mature counterparts.
This large-scale microgreen study was published in the August 2012 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Researchers at the USDA Agricultural Research Service have published, as of early 2014, several studies that identify the nutritional make-up and the shelf life of microgreens.
Twenty-five varieties were tested, key nutrients measured were vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, and beta-carotene in the cotyledons.
In general, microgreens contained considerably higher levels of vitamins and carotenoids—about five times greater—than their mature plant counterparts, an indication that microgreens may be worth the trouble of delivering them fresh during their short lives.
Vitamin C is Abundant in Microgreens:
Young edible seedlings are a superb source of vitamin C; the 2012 study on microgreens reported that even the microgreen sample that had the lowest levels of vitamin C contained a whopping 20 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams – that's almost twice the amount of vitamin C found in tomatoes!
Microgreens Are a Good Source of Vitamin E:
Back in 1967, a team of scientists from Yale University showed that young pea seedlings grown in light, contain significant levels of Vitamin E. Similarly, the researchers responsible for the 2012 microgreen study found substantial amounts of Vitamin E in the tested greens.
Even if Small in Size Greens Contain Vitamin K:
The Yale study on pea microgreens – or young pea seedlings as they were called back then – also discovered that the seedlings started to produce large amounts of vitamin K when they were exposed to light.
Vitamin K functions as an electron acceptor when chlorophyll – abundant in all green plants including microgreens – absorbs sunlight to produce carbohydrates and oxygen during photosynthesis.
Vitamin K has been said to promote normal blood clotting, prevent excessive bruising and plays an important role in maintaining strong and healthy bones.
Many Microgreens Are Loaded with Beta-Carotene:
Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, are thought to reduce the risk of disease, particularly certain types of cancer and eye disease. Carrots are famous for being rich in beta-carotene, but turns out that many microgreens are also a good source of this important nutrient. In fact, some microgreens appear to contain even more beta-carotene than carrots: 12 milligrams per 100 grams compared with 8 milligrams in boiled carrots, according to the 2012 study.
PEA MICROGREEN INFO PAGE
More in-depth information gathered from research papers and government agency studies on pea microgreens.
SUNFLOWER MICROGREEN INFO PAGE
More in-depth information gathered from research papers and government agency studies on sunflower microgreens
Check out this list of Microgreens We Grow