If you haven’t yet heard the buzz around micro-greens, you’re likely to see them pop up in restaurants and recipes everywhere come this spring. These adorable green superfoods are trending now in the health and wellness community for more reasons than one. Though tiny in stature, micro-greens pack a big nutritional punch. Here’s what you need to know about micro-greens and how they can improve your health.
What are micro-greens?
Micro-greens are the baby plants of common vegetables. The reason that they are so valued is because they are loaded with a concentrated amount of nutrients when compared to their adult counterparts. Can you say fountain of youth?
Micro-greens, unlike sprouts, are harvested once the plant starts to grow leaves. While sprouts are usually harvested in as little as two days after germination, micro-greens are harvested between one to three weeks after germination.
Health Benefits of Micro-Greens
Micro-greens come from plant families like the Brassica family (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli) and the Apiaceae family (carrots, celery, dill), which are high in essential nutrients like zinc, iron, magnesium, and more. One 2012 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that some micro-greens were nine times more concentrated in vitamins and minerals than fully matured plant greens.
Some research has suggested that micro-green nutrients could play a positive role in health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimers. Because they are rich in polyphenols, a kind of antioxidant linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, micro-greens could be a good dietary addition for those looking to improve or manage their heart health. Another 2016 animal study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that micro-greens harvested from the red cabbage plant helped to lower LDL cholesterol, liver cholesterol, and inflammatory cytokines in mice fed a high-fat diet. And in more good news, a 2016 study published in the journal Advanced Neurobiology found that plant-derived polyphenols — which are abundant in micro-greens — play a significant role in managing neurodegenerative diseases and decline, improving overall cognitive function.
In a 2017 study out of the Institute of Food Science and Technology, the antioxidants in micro-greens from fenugreek have also been shown to reduce the stressful effect that sugar has on cells, making it a desirable food option for diabetics and those looking to take control of their blood sugar levels. That's a lot of benefit in a tiny package!
Micro-Greens: Where to Get Them and How to Use Them
Micro-greens are a delicious addition to salads and smoothies, and many supermarkets now carry the micro-greens of common vegetables. But depending on the area you live in, you might have to visit a health food market to get yours. However, if you don’t feel like going out of your way, there’s good news: You can grow your own in no time!
To grow your own micro-greens, all you need is a large packet of the seeds of your favorite greens. We're especially fond of the red cabbage and broccoli micro-greens! Pre-soak the seeds to encourage germination with a little bit of hydrogen peroxide (which is totally safe for the seeds and prevents other harmful bacterias from contaminating your batch). Once they have started to sprout, rinse and drain the seeds. Next, pour your potting soil in a container about halfway and pat the soil down so it's leveled. Water the soil and then plant your seeds by sprinkling them generously over the soil. Then, use something to cover the seeds while they germinate for a few days, making sure to store your container in a warm place. After a few days, you’ll notice your micro-greens start to grow. Once you see them growing a bit, place them somewhere in the sunlight, and within a few days they should turn a rich, green color. When you see this, they’re ready to harvest and eat. What a simple and fun way to boost your health!