Though microgreens come with numerous health benefits, some might make you sick, so it’s essential to do your research before eating any baby plant.
Any microgreens from the nightshade family, such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, should not be grown and consumed as microgreens, as these plants are poisonous. Other microgreens contain chemical compounds which are mildly toxic and, therefore, if eaten, should only be consumed in small quantities, like buckwheat, alfalfa, and quinoa.
It is possible to be allergic to microgreens, so if you are allergic to any vegetable or herb, be sure to steer clear of the microgreen version too.
There is also a small risk of food poisoning with microgreens, especially if they are being eaten raw; therefore, it is imperative that they are being grown correctly and washed before they are served.
Most of the time, microgreens are entirely harmless and will not cause you any kind of sickness. However, there are risks that microgreens could be poisonous or contaminated, so be sure that when growing microgreens or purchasing them in a shop or restaurant that you know what you are buying and trust that it will not cause you some kind of adverse reaction.
Let’s break down which microgreens you should be avoiding.
Which Microgreens Are Toxic?
If you’re eating a lot of them, some microgreens are mildly toxic due to the chemical compounds in these baby plants. You’re still able to buy these microgreens since when they are consumed in small quantities, they pose no harm to you.
However, here are some of the microgreens to be aware of.
Buckwheat microgreens contain a compound called fagopyrin. This compound is slightly toxic, and in humans, this compound will cause redness, swollen, and burning sensations in the skin. It will leave your skin sensitive to sunlight, and these symptoms can last from a few hours to a couple of days.
These symptoms may vary depending on your body and its sensitivities. Many people can eat buckwheat microgreens without any nasty consequences. Still, it’s worth being aware of the risks if you happen to feel some kind of skin irritation after consuming buckwheat. Some people think this toxin is present in some varieties of buckwheat but not others, so a reaction might depend on where you are buying your buckwheat microgreens, too.
Alfalfa is one of the most popular microgreens, but it is also responsible for causing infections relatively frequently. It’s commonly used raw in restaurants, and chefs should know how to ensure alfalfa microgreens will not make you ill, but it is best to be mindful of the issues they might cause if you have a weakened immune system and don’t wish to take any risks.
Alfalfa microgreen s contain saponins (anti-nutrient), lectins (anti-nutrient), and canavanine (amino acid). These don’t always cause issues, and if you’re only eating a small number of alfalfa microgreens (as is most likely the case in a restaurant), then there’s nothing to worry about.
However, if consumed in larger quantities, these toxins can cause some unpleasant side effects. You might find inflammation, diarrhea, indigestion, and bloating to be an issue after eating alfalfa baby greens, or even lupus-like symptoms due to the canavanine present in them.
Like alfalfa, quinoa microgreens also contain saponins. For this reason, they should also be consumed in small quantities to see how your body reacts to this. If you suffer from indigestion, bloating, inflammation or stomach upset after eating quinoa microgreens, this is as a result of the saponins, and you should stick to only having small servings of them.
Can Microgreens Kill You?
Though some microgreens contain toxic elements, it is improbable that microgreens could kill you. The only way that this could occur is that if the microgreens were raw and contaminated, causing a terrible case of food poisoning that went untreated.
Microgreens do come with a risk of food poisoning. You can contract salmonella, norovirus, or E. coli from microgreens, as well as some less common food poisonings.
If you get food poisoning from microgreens, you might get a fever, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and headaches. The symptoms may vary depending on the bacteria or virus you are suffering from, but they are equally unpleasant.
If they are left untreated, these infections could be fatal. For that reason, if you feel ill after consuming microgreens, it is vital that you consult a medical specialist rather than keep quiet about how you are feeling. They will be able to advise you on how to manage your symptoms and ensure that microgreens do not kill you.
How Do You Know If Microgreens Are Bad?
Like any other vegetable or herb, if microgreens are past their best, you should be able to tell from their appearance. Here are some factors to look out for when microgreens are growing to see if they are safe to eat, but the same rules apply when microgreens have been picked and served.
Mold or Mildew
When growing microgreens, mold is a common problem you might find yourself facing. Microgreens that have mold growing on and around them are not safe to consume, and this mold could lead to illness.
To prevent mold from occurring, try to keep your microgreens in a less moist area.
Yellow, weak stems
If your microgreens are growing and seem to be quite yellow, do not panic. If they are given a chance, they will turn green; the microgreens are just in need of more light so they can photosynthesize.
Some microgreens are yellow even when they are picked, so if you are served yellowish microgreens on top of a soup or salad, this may be intentional. However, if they are yellow and damp, it might be that the microgreens are past their best and wilting.
If your microgreens are falling over as they are growing, they are most likely still safe to eat. It might be that they just require more water or that they are ready to be cut.