• Tamar Rothenberg, RDN

Are microgreens more nutritious?


Microgreens are small, edible plants in a variety of colors, grown either hydroponically or in soil. Microgreens are harvested right before they mature into full plants. The baby plants differ from sprouts, as they are grown for a longer time than sprouts by several weeks. Microgreens are incredibly flavorful, but are they more nutritious than fully grown greens?

microgreens grown in soil

Microgreens have several advantages over sprouts (which are densely packed with nutrients in their own right). First, because microgreens are grown in soil, they provide necessary minerals. Sprouts, which are grown in water, do not have minerals. Secondly, sprouts are on the list of foods that most often cause food poisoning, primarily because they are grown in water and not in soil. Sprouts must be handled extremely carefully by growers who understand how to prevent bacterial growth from stagnant water.

Unlike sprouts, microgreens rely on photosynthesis to grow. The process of photosynthesis provides micronutrients such as potassium and other minerals in the microgreens, offering a dense package of vitamins and minerals. But how do microgreens compare to fully grown plants such as lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli?

Radish microgreens

Nutritional advantage

Microgreens grown in soil offer a nutritional advantage over those grown hydroponically, for the same reason they are superior to sprouts grown in water. The study, in the Journal of Horticulture, noted that the method of growth didn't matter in the end, because these baby plants have more nutrients per gram than fully-grown plants. Interestingly , the study also says that microgreens are more sustainable, as they can be easily grown at home, enabling the use of less water and pesticides, along with transportation resources.

Miicrogreens are easily digested because they contain high levels of enzymes. The most nutrients are offered in certain types of microgreens. These microgreens, according to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, had the highest amount of vitamin C, E, and K, carotenoids, and lutein (beneficial for eyesight):

  • red cabbage

  • cilantro

  • garnet amaranth

  • green daikon radish

Microgreens shine in flavor, as they carry an even stronger flavor of the plant. For example, the slightly spicy-sweet flavor of radishes are heightened in microgreens. Microgreens are grown in a variety of types, from red cabbage, mustard seeds, and cilantro, to beets, broccoli, basil and kale. Each baby plant has a distinctive flavor. The wonderful variety of microgreens also lends itself to a variety of dishes.

You can use microgreens in the following ways:

  • Packed in sandwiches instead of lettuce

  • As garnishes

  • In school lunches to increase the vitamin and mineral content in a tasty sandwich or salad

  • Added to salads

  • Added to bean dishes for a variety of color impact

These baby plants are rich in vitamins and minerals; however, they are also expensive. Thus, most people will only eat them in small amounts. Pack them in sandwiches or use them as interesting garnishes. But you still won't go wrong with fully-grown vegetables and the vast number of nutrients and fiber they offer on your plate.

microgreen varieties

#microgreens