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By Rachael Link, MS, RD
These tiny greens have cropped up just about everywhere lately and become a staple garnish thanks to their unique color and flavor. However, microgreens have so much more to offer than simply adding a pop of color to the plate.
In fact, recent research has shown that these mini greens pack in a major punch when it comes to nutrition and contain even more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than their full-sized counterparts.
Best of all, growing microgreens is quick, easy and convenient, regardless of your amount of experience in the garden.
Benefits of Microgreens
1. High in Nutrients
Microgreens are much more nutrient-dense foods than their fully mature counterparts. This is because they take all of the important vitamins and minerals found in the mature plant and manage to cram them into a much smaller package.
Most vegetables provide a diverse array of nutrients. Swiss chard, for example, is especially high in vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C, while beets are loaded with manganese and folate. The microgreen versions of these vegetables boast just as varied a nutrient profile and can help boost your vitamin and mineral intake quickly and easily.
In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, microgreens contained between four to 40 times more nutrients by weight than their fully grown counterparts. (1)
This means that including just a few servings of microgreens into your diet alongside plenty of other fruits and vegetables can ensure that you’re getting the nutrients you need to maintain optimal health.
2. Contain Polyphenols
Polyphenols are important natural chemicals that are found in many foods and contain powerful antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help prevent the buildup of harmful free radicals, which are highly reactive compounds that form in the body and can cause damage to cells as well as chronic disease. Polyphenols have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. (2, 3, 4)
Most vegetables are high in health-promoting polyphenols. Some studies have also found that the microgreen versions of these vegetables are similarly high in polyphenols.
A 2013 study out of Maryland measured the amount of polyphenols in five microgreens from the Brassica family of vegetables, including red cabbage, purple kohlrabi, mizuna, and red and purple mustard greens. Not only were the microgreens found to be good sources of polyphenols, but they actually contained a wider variety of polyphenols than their mature vegetable counterparts. (5)
In addition to microgreens and mature vegetables, other rich sources of polyphenols include fruit, tea, coffee and even chocolate.
3. Improve Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death, accounting for an estimated one in six deaths in the United States. (6) Making dietary modifications is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent coronary heart disease and maintain heart health.
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