Microgreen study shows health benefits

June 6, 2017 by Jan Suszkiw, Agricultural Research Service
Red cabbage microgreens (front) and mature red cabbage. Credit: Stephen Ausmus

"Microgreens" are tender young plants grown from the seed of certain herb, vegetable, and grain crops that can be clipped at the stem and eaten fresh within 2 weeks of germinating.

Some chefs have touted the taste, texture, color, and delicate appearance of microgreens, adding them to soups, salads, sandwiches, and main dishes. Microgreens can also contain more nutrients than full-grown plants. Red cabbage microgreens, in particular, have garnered attention for their potential to help protect against chronic diseases like , a leading cause of death in the United States.

"Although microgreens, such as those from , have been reported to possess more nutrients [than mature plants] and are perceived to be 'healthier,' no known study has been conducted to evaluate whether consumption reduces factors," according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chemist Thomas Wang and his co-authors in the December 2016 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

To learn more, Wang and colleagues with ARS in Beltsville, Maryland, and the University of Maryland-College Park conducted a study in 60 young mice.

They fed each mouse one of six diets: low-fat, high-fat, and with or without mature or microgreen red cabbage. Both types of cabbage were freeze-dried and fed in amounts equivalent to 200 grams (about 1 cup) of vegetables per person per day.

Among the results:

  • Mice on high-fat diets containing either type of red cabbage had lower levels of blood-cholesterol and triglycerides associated with liver inflammation than mice on high-fat diets without the vegetable.
  • Both forms of red cabbage (mature and microgreen) helped the mice gain less weight from their than their vegetable-free peers.
  • Mice on diets with red cabbage microgreens had lower levels of "bad" () cholesterol than mice on diets with mature red cabbage. Perhaps not surprisingly, mice on low-fat diets were healthiest of all groups.
  • Red cabbage microgreens had more polyphenols and glucosinolates than mature red . Both are "phytonutrients" thought to confer antioxidant, cholesterol-lowering, and anti-inflammatory properties when consumed.

"Although microgreens have more polyphenols and glucosinolates, we did not demonstrate that these phytonutrients are the active compounds that led to the health benefits observed in ," says Wang. How these microgreen components actually benefit the health of humans remains to be determined, he adds.

Explore further: Red cabbage microgreens lower 'bad' cholesterol in animal study

Related Stories

Red cabbage microgreens lower 'bad' cholesterol in animal study

December 14, 2016
Microgreens are sprouting up everywhere from upscale restaurants to home gardens. They help spruce up old recipes with intense flavors and colors, and are packed with nutrients. Now testing has shown that for mice on a high-fat ...

Science confirms—you really should eat your Brassica

April 4, 2017
"Microgreens" is the name for vegetables and herbs harvested for food as tiny seedlings. Says Agricultural Research Service (ARS) food technologist Yaguang (Sunny) Luo, "Microgreens are an emerging class of specialty fresh ...

Many trendy 'microgreens' are more nutritious than their mature counterparts

August 29, 2012
The first scientific analysis of nutrient levels in edible microgreens has found that many of those trendy seedlings of green vegetables and herbs have more vitamins and healthful nutrients than their fully grown counterparts. ...

Microgreens: Tiny, but powerful

September 11, 2012
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 ...

Specialty greens pack a nutritional punch

January 24, 2014
"Microgreens" is a marketing term used to describe edible greens which germinate from the seeds of vegetables and herbs and are harvested without roots at the seedling stage. The plants at the seedling stage have two fully ...

How sole-source LEDs impact growth of Brassica microgreens

July 27, 2016
Microgreens and baby greens are a relatively new specialty crop seen in many upscale markets and restaurants. Favored by chefs and consumers, microgreens are used to enhance the flavor, color, and texture of foods, and some ...

Recommended for you

Widespread declines in life expectancy across high income countries coincide with rising young adult, midlife mortality

August 15, 2018
The ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States is a key contributor to the most recent declines in life expectancy, suggests a study published by The BMJ today.

Parental life span predicts daughters living to 90 without chronic disease or disability

August 15, 2018
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that women whose mothers lived to at least age 90 were more likely to also live to 90, free of serious diseases and disabilities.

Diets high in vegetables and fish may lower risk of multiple sclerosis

August 15, 2018
People who consume a diet high in vegetables and fish may have a reduced risk of multiple sclerosis, new research led by Curtin University has found.

Can sleeping too much lead to an early death?

August 15, 2018
A recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association has led to headlines that will make you rethink your Saturday morning sleep in.

Mixing energy drinks with alcohol could enhance the negative effects of binge drinking

August 14, 2018
A key ingredient of energy drinks could be exacerbating some of the negative effects of binge drinking according to a new study.

New study finds fake, low-quality medicines prevalent in the developing world

August 10, 2018
A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that substandard and falsified medicines, including medicines to treat malaria, are a serious problem in much of the world. In low- and middle-income ...

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.