Microgreens - the perfect little superfood!
Yes, they are tiny, hence the name microgreens, but they pack a wallop of nutrition and flavor, and their visual appeal goes without saying!
Fine chefs around the globe are using them not only in haute cuisine, but in regional, ethnic, and signature dishes as well. Gourmet cooks are bringing them home from upscale green grocers to use in everything from salads to desserts. Moms have also discovered them and sprinkle them liberally on lunchbox sandwiches.
Not to be confused with sprouts, microgreens take fresh greens to the next level, and what they offer in terms of nutrition may surprise you.
No more than 8 - 14 days old, these little seedlings have just developed their first set of leaves, or cotyledons for the plant biology minded. Smaller than baby greens, and larger than sprouts (which are grown in water) microgreens are delicately harvested at a time when their nutritional compounds are highly concentrated.
Studies show phytonutrients important to health
For example, a study done by the University of Illinois College of Medicine reports, "Results clearly point toward a positive correlation between cancer prevention of many target organs and consumption of cruciferous vegetable or their active constituents."
Other studies reported in Clinical Oncology Week, The Journal of Nutrition, and Cancer Weekly concur and recommend high amounts of cruciferious vegetables be eaten on a regular basis. But what is a high amount.? Some sources encourage as much as 1/12 cups per day. That's a lot of broccoli!
Enter the little microgreen. The same amount of cancer preventing phytonutrients identified in scientific studies and found in 1/12 cups of broccoli can be had in a mere 1 ounce of broccoli microgreens!
Eating a rainbow in delicious and nutritious
Microgreens cover a wide spectrum colors, and therefore help with attaining the USDA's recommendation to "eat a rainbow" for optimal health. With shades of light lemon yellows, dark greens, deep burgundies, bright reds, and more, microgreens contain the phytonutrients associated with these colors and found in other fruits and vegetables.
Lycopene, the red pigment in beets, is not only found in the root vegetable, but also in the tiny "Bulls Blood Beet" microgreen harvested a mere two weeks after sowing. Licopene has been shown to reduce the risk of several types of cancer.
The light yellow to orange pigments found in carrots indicate the nutritional powerhouses, carotenoids. Carrot microgreens also contain them, and can be easily added to salads and sandwiches.
Dark green pigments often indicate the presence of lutein which has been found to reduce the risk of cataracts. Chard microgreens are tasty suppliers of lutein and other important vitamins and minerals. And using the microgreen version of chard is much easier than rinsing the grit and sand out the crinkly mature leaves!
And what about plain old vitamins and minerals? Microgreens have plenty of them. 1 cup can contain 60% of an adult's minimum daily requirement of Vitamin A, 15% of Vitamin C, and 4% of Calcium. And they contain protein to boot - some varieties have an estimated 80% of the calories coming from protein! Plus there is no fat or cholesterol in microgreens and sodium levels range at 25mg or below.
All that nutrition and hardly any calories!
And if great taste and nutrition were not enough, these tiny little vegetables are tiny in calories, too - a cup of microgreens averages only 5 calories! Remember to keep in mind the broccoli example (the amount of nutrition in one ounce of broccoli microgreens and 11/2 cup of broccoli is the same), and you'll agree that microgreens give you more health for less calories.
Microgreens are the perfect little superfood!