Microgreens: Big nutrients in a small plant

Whether you’re looking for an easy way to get extra vitamins and minerals in your diet, or you just love the taste of fresh greens, microgreens are the perfect food.

Originally used in the 1980s in California fine dining, these greens are gaining popularity. They are seen in cafes and restaurants across the country.

So, what are microgreens?

Not to be confused with sprouts or baby greens, microgreens are vegetables or herbs that are harvested 10 to 14 days after being planted. This makes them younger than baby greens, but older than sprouts.

With a short time to grow, they usually get to be about 1-3 inches tall. Microgreens can be grown from the seeds of broccoli, arugula, onions, radish greens, chard, cilantro, basil, parsley, chives and many more herbs and vegetables.

Health benefits

These tiny greens add not only color, flavor and texture to our diet, but a significant amount of nutrients as well. Research done by the University of Maryland found that microgreens have three to 40 times more vitamins and minerals than their full-grown versions.

Some of these nutrients and their health benefits include:

  • Vitamin C: Healthy immune system and wound healing
  • Vitamin E: Healthy immune system and strong blood vessels
  • Vitamin K: Strong bones and wound healing
  • Calcium: Bone formation, hormone function, muscle and nervous system function
  • Iron: Healthy immune system, energy production, wound healing, red blood cell formation
  • Potassium: Heart, muscle and nervous system function
  • Zinc: Healthy immune system, nervous system, reproduction, wound healing

These nutrients can help prevent health issues like inflammation, cancer, heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Such a small plant may make a big difference!

Grow your own

Microgreens can be found at most large grocery stores, but they can be somewhat expensive.

Try microgreens in one of our healthy recipes.

Recipe Library | OSF HealthCare.

A cheaper way is to grow your own nutrient-packed plants. Look for microgreen kits, or individual seed packets, and follow package instructions. Some supplies you may need include a growing tray, potting soil and a sunny window. You’ll have microgreens ready to harvest in no time!

Bottom line

Microgreens pack a big nutritional punch in such small plants, so it’s easy to get the nutrients you need to stay healthy. They’re available to buy in stores, but if you have a green thumb, they’re also quick and easy to grow on your own.

Including these greens in your diet adds delicious flavor, beautiful color and a variety of textures. Try adding these little greens to a salad, soup, sandwich, wrap or smoothie.

Last Updated: July 14, 2021

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