Microgreens: Tiny, but powerful

September 11, 2012
Microgreens: Tiny, but powerful

Researchers with the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently completed a study to determine the level of nutrients in microgreens compared to their mature counterparts.

What are microgreens exactly? They are tiny, immature versions of vegetables, herbs and other plants harvested anywhere from a week to two weeks after germination that tend to be about one to two inches long with the stem and leaves still attached. Microgreens are typically only seen in fine dining restaurants, used as delicately placed garnishes or for a pop of unique flavor.

Assistant professor Qin Wang and graduate student Zhenlei Xiao with the College of AGNRs Department of Nutrition and (NFSC) participated in the study, which looked at nutrients like Vitamin C, E, K and found in 25 different types of microgreens including cilantro, celery, red cabbage, green basil and arugula.

Their research ultimately discovered that the microgreens contained four to 40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts.

We were really surprised, Wang said of the findings, which were published in the . Those nutrients are very important to us. is considered an antioxidant, as well as Vitamin E, so theyre very important for us to consume.

Some of the numbers were really, really high, said Xiao. We thought it might have been a mistake but we double-checked so many times and there were no mistakes.

Microgreens: Tiny, but powerful

It has long been speculated that microgreens packed a potent punch of antioxidants but until now, no research existed to support the theory. Theres just no evidence, said Wang. Thats what motivates us to do this kind of research.

Because microgreens are so delicate, they are not recommended for cooking and should be eaten raw with minor washing, says Wang. As a result, they only have a of two to five days and are difficult for the average consumer to come by.

Production is low right now and the cost is high so they are really only used in upscale restaurants. They are really not available in the grocery store, said Wang.

Wang, Xiao and USDA researchers also looked at ways to possibly increase production and lower the cost of microgreens by examining the effects of different temperatures, packaging techniques and washing conditions. The research team is currently testing how the tiny greens respond to various light exposures.

But before you dash out for a mega-dose of microgreens, Wang says more research needs to be done on different varieties of the tender veggies, of which there are many, as well as updated comparative research on their mature counterparts. While Xiao taste-tested all of the microgreens in the study and found most of them to be quite flavorful, particularly the young purple radish, she advises consumers to use moderation. "I would say adding it to your sandwich, soup or salad, it definitely will taste better than if you eat it alone," Xiao said. "They are really good food enhancers."

More information: DOI: 10.1021/jf300459b

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Study finds walnuts may promote health by changing gut bacteria

July 28, 2017
Research led by Lauri Byerley, PhD, RD, Research Associate Professor of Physiology at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found that walnuts in the diet change the makeup of bacteria in the gut, which suggests ...

Sugar not so sweet for mental health

July 27, 2017
Sugar may be bad not only for your teeth and your waistline, but also your mental health, claimed a study Thursday that was met with scepticism by other experts.

Could insufficient sleep be adding centimeters to your waistline?

July 27, 2017
Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.

Vitamin E-deficient embryos are cognitively impaired even after diet improves

July 27, 2017
Zebrafish deficient in vitamin E produce offspring beset by behavioral impairment and metabolic problems, new research at Oregon State University shows.

The role of dosage in assessing risk of hormone therapy for menopause

July 27, 2017
When it comes to assessing the risk of estrogen therapy for menopause, how the therapy is delivered—taking a pill versus wearing a patch on one's skin—doesn't affect risk or benefit, researchers at UCLA and elsewhere ...

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.