Microgreens seem to be cropping up frequently on restaurant menus, especially in places where the healthiness of the food is paramount. You might have spotted microgreens in your local supermarket or be considering growing some yourself at home.
Microgreens are loved by many for their high levels of nutrients. They are more densely packed with vitamins than when the vegetables are fully grown, making it easier to hit the recommended daily quantities. They contain large amounts of potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper. These all help to contribute to a healthy body.
Microgreens also contain antioxidants and have been linked with preventing certain cancers, as well as Alzheimer’s. More research needs to be done on this, but one thing is for sure, microgreens contain some potent stuff that your body will appreciate.
However, there are some health risks with microgreens too, which we will consider. Since they are typically consumed raw to ensure the vitamins are all present, there is a risk of food poisoning if your microgreens have not been grown safely.
They are not recommended to anyone with a compromised immune system, the elderly or young children. You could contract salmonella, norovirus, or other food poisonings from microgreens, so be sure to only consume them if you know where they have come from and they are fresh. Only eat a small quantity at first if you are unsure how your body might react to them.
Try not to let these risks concern you too significantly, as they are rare, and the benefits of microgreens are worth giving a go if your immune system is healthy. Not forgetting, too, that they are loved by many for their taste – they are strong and refreshing, perfect for topping a salad, adding to a sandwich, or nibbling on throughout the day, should you wish.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are young vegetables that are about 2.5-7.5cm tall. They are somewhere in between sprouts and baby green, so they are termed baby plants.
Microgreens are harvested between 1-3 weeks after germination; once there are some leaves on the plant. Sprouts, which are harvested much earlier, do not have any leaves.
Microgreens are pretty easy to grow, as they can thrive outside, inside, or in a greenhouse. Since they are harvested early, you don’t have to plant them way in advance, either.
There are lots of different kinds of microgreens, but the most popular varieties are:
Cucurbitaceae Family: Melon, cucumber, and squash
Amaranthaceae family: Amaranth, quinoa swiss chard, beet, and spinach
Amaryllidaceae family: Garlic, onion, and leek
Apiaceae family: Dill, fennel, carrot, and celery
Asteraceae family: Lettuce, endive, and chicory
Brassicaceae family: Broccoli, cabbage, radish, rocket, arugula, watercress, and cauliflower
Though they vary in taste, microgreens are known for being strong in flavor. If you are not keen on one variety, it’s worth trying a couple of others, since there are so many to try.
What Are The Health Benefits of Microgreens?
The vitamins that are present in microgreens vary depending on what variety they are. However, they tend to be rich in antioxidants, which play a role in protecting your body against heart disease and cancer. Those rich in polyphenols, especially, have been proven to prevent certain types of cancer.
Antioxidant-rich food is also associated with hindering Alzheimer’s disease.
Microgreens also tend to have high quantities of iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, and potassium. These are crucial for the body and can prevent diabetes as they aid sugar with entering the cells correctly.
Since these are baby plants, their concentration of these elements is impressive and helps you to consume the amount your body needs without having to eat whole broccoli, for example.
Are Microgreens A Superfood?
Given the fact that they are packed with vitamins, many do perceive microgreens to be a superfood. They’re not magically going to make you healthier, but they will help you to reach your goals in terms of vitamin consumption and to hit all of the different minerals your body needs.
Due to their concentration of key vitamins and minerals, they are considered a ‘functional food’, which means that they provide nutrients in a practical manner. They are easy to integrate into sweet and savory meals and contain higher quantities of essential vitamins and minerals than their mature counterparts.
What Are The Risks of Eating Microgreens?
Despite all of the health benefits of microgreens, there are some risks to be aware of when adding them to your diet.
Sprouts are not typically consumed raw since they are grown in a damp environment with poor ventilation and little sunlight. These conditions promote the growth of bacteria and fungus, meaning that they can make you ill.
Microgreens, though similar, are grown in a bit of a different, cleaner space. However, some of the similarities to sprouts do remain, and you can still get sick from eating them. There are some harmful germs that may exist in them when they are eaten raw.
To avoid eating these germs and thus getting ill, it is vital to give your microgreens a wash before consuming them.
Illnesses you could contract from eating microgreens include:
- Listeria monocytogenes
- Escherichia coli
If you have any symptoms of sickness or fever after eating microgreens, please do not dismiss them. Seek medical help, especially if your symptoms appear to be worsening.
If you cook your microgreens, these illnesses are less likely to occur. However, this will also get rid of some of the nutrients that make microgreens so special.
To avoid getting sick from microgreens, be sure to only consume a small quantity in one sitting, especially if you are not used to eating them. They are not recommended for young children, the elderly, or anyone with a weak immune system, as these illnesses could seriously affect people within these categories.
However, do not worry. Most microgreens should not make you ill if they are of good quality and have been grown in a clean environment. There are a tremendous amount of health benefits to get from eating microgreens, and if you eat them fresh and raw, your body will thank you for it.