by MARY TOOTHMAN
One of the hottest new trends in the world of healthy eating today is the consumption of microgreens – which are the seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs.
Once the seed of an herb or vegetable begins to grow, it is considered a sprout. Once the sprout begins to grow, the baby plant is considered a microgreen, which is not the same as a sprout.
Sprouts are most often grown in water and harvested within two or three days. Microgreens are grown in soil, call for sunlight, and are harvested after growing two to three weeks, when they are a few inches tall.
Baby greens are grown for longer periods and are usually around three to four inches tall when they are harvested.
While microgreens are, of course, no substitute for conventionally grown and consumed vegetables, they are being used to boost health and wellness. Consumers are putting microgreens in salads, smoothies, and even sandwiches. They can be purchased at various local microgreen farms or grown at home.
Some of the most popular varieties include cilantro, amaranth, arugula, radish, basil, beets, broccoli, and kale. Microgreens are loaded with nutrients, including vitamins C, E and K, as well as lutein and beta-carotene. They have up to 40 times more nutrients than the mature leaves of the same plants.
Cilantro is a popular microgreen that is high in vitamins and carotenoids. The flavor of microgreens depends on the plant they comes from. It can range from mild to tangy, spicy, or peppery.
Microgreens can be grown from any herb or vegetable.
Sprouts, such as bean sprouts, are another popular and healthy food that can be grown at home. For more information on how to grow microgreens from your own backyard, visit mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-grow-microgreens. Sprouts are newly germinated seeds that are harvested before their leaves develop, while microgreens have leaves.
Though very popular today, microgreens have been around since the 1980s. They were being incorporated into the dishes at many restaurants then. Microgreens can boost color and enhance flavor to dishes, as well as adding texture and nutritional value.
Studies suggest that microgreens may contain high concentrations of nutrients compared with mature vegetables and herbs. Because of their high antioxidant content, microgreens are considered a functional food that promotes health or prevents disease.
Consuming plant-based foods of all kinds has been linked to a reduced risk of many health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Plant-based foods also support a healthy complexion, increased energy, lower weight, and longer life expectancy.
Note: According to Medical News Today, bacteria growth in sprouts has been a major food safety concern, with several outbreaks of E.coli reported in the media in the past few years. The U.S. government has even gone so far as to recommend that people do not consume sprouts at all. But the potential for bacteria growth with microgreens is much smaller because they are not grown in water. Also, only the leaf and plant are eaten instead of the entire root and seed.