Are you looking for new ways to include more types of microgreens into your diet?
Maybe you’ve heard of micro broccoli but didn’t realize how many microgreens types there are out there?
Or perhaps you’re curious about different types of microgreens but don’t know what they are or what to do with them?
Either way, you’ve hit gold!
This article will explain to you what they are, what types of microgreens there are, a top 10 list of microgreens, and briefly, how-to easily grow and eat them.
Keep reading to find out more!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What Are Sprouts?
All different types of microgreens and sprouts develop from moistened seeds, however under little different conditions.
Sprouts are plant babies that emerge as the first sign of life about 3-5 days after hydrating seeds.
To grow them at home, you can keep them in a jar with a breathable cloth cover.
They do require daily rinsing but no soil to develop and grow, and that way they can be kept nice and clean.
Once they’ve developed, they look a bit squiggly or a bit like a rolled-up ball. See the picture below.
Sprouts are commonly grown from the seeds of the peanut, soybean, mung bean, alfalfa, lentil, amaranth, sunflower, and a variety of vegetables and herbs.
Broccoli sprouts are among the most common.
Microgreens, What in the World Is That?
Microgreens are the young tender light green seedlings that develop if you let sprouts continue to grow for another 1-2 weeks after sprouting.
They have stems, immature and bigger true leaves, and are larger than sprouts but still very small.
In contrast to sprouts, microgreens need light to develop, and the true leaf is where photosynthesis takes place.
That being said, they can grow indoors under artificial light and are basically very young plants.
Production of microgreens has increased in recent years because of their beautiful colors, unique taste, and exceptional nutritional value.
Some of the most popular types of microgreens are kale, wheatgrass, and broccoli.
They’re rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.
Furthermore, they have anti-inflammatory properties, can help keep blood sugars controlled, and can help prevent cancer.
They’re also easy to grow at home and quite sustainable due to the scant resources required.
Species often used for growing different types of microgreens include amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, almond, sesame, mustard, kale, broccoli, fennel, parsley, fenugreek, beet, spinach, and onion.
Lastly, microgreens shouldn’t be confused with baby greens. Baby green vegetables such as baby spinach, as baby vegetables are about 2 weeks older than microgreens.
Microgreens vs Sprouts: What’s the Difference?
To recap, sprouts emerge as the first sign of life about 3-5 days after hydrating seeds if they’re left in a dark area with adequate moisture.
Sprouts haven’t yet developed their leaves, and you typically eat the whole sprout.
For example, for the sprouted pea seed, you’d eat the root, seeds, and pea shoots.
Since you eat the whole sprout, they can’t regrow. Instead, you have to moisten new seeds for more sprouts to develop.
On the other hand, if you were to cover seeds with soil, you wouldn’t be able to see the sprouts forming.
What you would see after an additional 1-2 weeks are pale green stems growing upwards and bright green leaves developing. These are microgreens and they’re usually harvested at this stage.
Microgreens require light and moisture and are often grown hydroponically, that is in a nutritious water solution without soil.
Once they’re harvested, you typically eat the stem and the leaves but leave the root to regrow new stems.
As long as they get enough water and light, they can regrow into new microgreens that you can continue to harvest.
Which Are More Nutritious, Sprouts or Microgreens?
The sprouting of seeds enhances many nutrient levels such as phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect cells.
As a consequence, sprouts and microgreens have higher concentrations of those bioactive compounds compared to seeds.
Furthermore, sprouting also improves taste and reduces some bad compounds making them easier for the body to absorb.
And more antioxidants, better taste, and easier absorption are all good things.
In more detailed terms, the table below shows some differences between sprouts and microgreens.
|MOST/HIGHEST NUTRITIONAL COMPONENT||SPROUTS||MICROGREENS|
|Antioxidant capacity (polyphenols, vitamin C)||X*|
|Essential for Immune System (carotenoids)||X|
|Protective against Diabetes||X|
Although sprouts have more antioxidants such as polyphenols and vitamin C, microgreens have more carotenoids.
In other words, while sprouts are better at protecting cells, microgreens are better at keeping the immune system healthy and protecting against diabetes.
However, microgreens are also higher in an organic compound called oxalic acid.
Some of that may be due to preservation methods.
That is, some growers add oxalic acid to protect the harvest against bacteria and to prolong shelf life.
This is a bad nutrient because it can interfere with the uptake of minerals like iron and calcium.
Furthermore, in sensitive individuals, it can result in a higher risk of kidney stones.
It’s worthy to note, however, that in homegrown microgreens, the level of oxalic acid is probably lower.
Are Microgreens Healthier than Normal Vegetables?
There’s some variability in nutritional content and health benefits among the different kinds of microgreens.
But all and all, they’re loaded with nutrients.
They often contain more vitamins and antioxidants than mature plants of the same type.
Regular vegetables prevent against cancer and improve digestion, but microgreens could be even better.
They could be better because of the higher nutritional values, ease of growing, preparing, and eating, and their cancer-fighting ability.
What Are the Different Types of Microgreens?
Some different types of microgreens are seen below:
|Pseudo Cereals||Amaranth |
|Vegetables & Herbs||Amaranth|
Top 10 List of Microgreens & Different Types of Microgreens
When we evaluated the broccoli microgreens nutrition info in this section, we used the best data available.
If there was no data for microgreens nutrition specifically, we used the data for the mature counterpart to explain the nutrient content.
However, as sprouting changes the nutritional value, it may be different than that of the mature plant.
Also, how they’re grown, stored, and handled may also affect their nutritional values.
Arugula is in the cabbage group together with broccoli and is often used in salads for its fresh, peppery, and spicy flavor.
Commonly, the leaves are eaten, but you can also eat the flowers and seeds of the mature plant.
In true microgreen fashion, you would eat the stems and leaves of arugula microgreens.
Arugula Microgreens Nutrition
Aside from being high in fiber and antioxidants, arugula also has calcium, potassium, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K.
Many of those are important for your body’s defenses which is essential for cancer prevention.
Bok Choy Microgreens
Just like arugula, Bok Choi is a Chinese cabbage-type vegetable that’s also in the cabbage or cruciferous vegetable group.
Its microgreens have a mild cabbage-like flavor and can be used on sandwiches and mixed in salads.
Bok Choi Microgreens Nutrition
The microgreens of Bok Choi are especially high in vitamins C and K.
But it also has good amounts of vitamin A and folate, along with some fiber.
These nutrients are important for the immune system, energy production, and to help blood clot.
Buckwheat is in the pseudocereals family, it’s called “pseudo” because it isn’t a grassy plant.
Because of that, it’s gluten-free.
Buckwheat microgreens have a mild flavor that’s slightly citrusy. It can be added to smoothies, mixed in salads, and added to sandwiches.
Buckwheat Microgreens Nutrition
Buckwheat contains high-quality protein, including one of the nine essential amino acids, lysine.
Furthermore, it’s rich in antioxidants, and vitamins B and K.
Buckwheat also has minerals such as manganese, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
They help the immune system, they’re involved in growth and development, bone, blood clotting, and nerve function.
Chia is the seed of a flowering plant in the mint family. Its microgreens are gluten-free and have a tangy, slightly bitter taste.
They can be added to many foods and go well with a little sweetness because of the slightly bitter taste.
Chia Seeds Microgreens Nutrition
Chia seeds have fiber, antioxidants, B-vitamins, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Nutrients in chia seeds help digestion, they protect cells, lower inflammation, and help the heart and muscles.
Chives are in the Amaryllis group and are related to onions, leeks, and garlic. They have a juicy robust oniony taste, albeit milder than onion.
If you want a milder substitute for onions, chives microgreens do well in salads, soups, and stews.
Chives Microgreens Nutrition
Chives are a rich source of fiber, folate, vitamins C, A, and K, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and the plant compounds lutein and zeaxanthin.
The latter two in particular are powerful antioxidants important for cancer prevention. And when they pair up, they’re even stronger!
Kale belongs to the cabbage family alongside broccoli and brussels sprouts.
Because kale is very low in calories, it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods available.
Kale microgreens have a sweetish almost broccoli-like flavor and can be used where cabbage or broccoli would be used.
The most commonly used types of kale microgreens are Scotch Kale and Red Russian Kale.
Scotch Kale has curly green leaves and Red Russian Kale has plain leaves and reddish purplish stems.
Kale Microgreens Nutrition
Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K.
It also has manganese, calcium, B vitamins, copper, potassium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus.
Kale also comes with several antioxidants, the most powerful being quercetin and kaempferol.
Both can help reduce the risk of cancer.
Kohlrabi is also in the cabbage family and its microgreens grow on beautiful purple stems.
They’re reminiscent of turnips and they make a perfect topping for dishes that need a splash of color.
Kohlrabi Microgreens Nutrition
Kohlrabi is an excellent source of vitamin C, and also has fiber, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
They help protect cells and tissues, lower inflammation, and help the heart and muscles function.
Mung Bean Microgreens
Mung beans or adzuki beans belong to the legume family.
The mung bean microgreen or adzuki bean microgreen has a delicate flavor similar to fresh peas.
Mung Bean Microgreens Nutrition
Mung beans provide high-quality protein, including several essential amino acids and fiber.
They’re also rich in folate, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, copper, potassium, and zinc.
And they have smaller amounts of B-vitamins and selenium.
They help build cells and tissues, boost the immune system, carry oxygen in red blood cells, and help digestion.
Spinach is in the amaranth family together with beets and is loaded with nutrients.
Its microgreens taste similar to spinach, that is, it has a mild, earthy flavor.
Spinach Microgreens Nutrition
Spinach is high in carotenoids, vitamins B, C, E, and K, and calcium and iron.
They’re important for the immune system, blood, and bone.
Aside from those, just like kale, spinach also has some important plant components:
- Lutein and zeaxanthin – important antioxidants
- Quercetin and kaempferol – powerful antioxidants that can help prevent cancer
Sunflowers are flowering plants in the Aster family of seeds.
Sunflower microgreens have a sweet and slightly nutty flavor.
Sunflower Microgreens Nutrition
The sunflower seed and sprout contain antioxidants, protein, beneficial fats, fiber, vitamin E, folate, selenium, copper, and iron.
They help the immune and nervous systems, build cells and tissues and make hormones.
The Super Star – Broccoli Microgreens Nutrients and Micro Broccoli
Broccoli is in the Brassica or cruciferous vegetables group, along with kale.
Its micro broccoli taste is fresh and mildly cabbage-like, and milder when compared to radish microgreens.
When comparing micro broccoli vs broccoli, eating broccoli microgreens is similar to eating regular broccoli.
That is, to eat broccoli microgreens, you can put them in salads, soups, and sandwiches, similar to broccoli florets of mature broccoli.
While raw broccoli of the mature vegetable can be made into pesto, it’s better to eat the microgreen whole to avoid nutrient loss.
Broccoli Microgreens Nutrition
Broccoli is high in fiber, folate, vitamins C and K, iron, potassium, manganese, iron, antioxidants, and plant compounds.
Furthermore, the protein content of broccoli microgreens vs broccoli is pretty similar and higher than in many other plants.
But compared to protein foods, regular broccoli and broccoli microgreens protein content are still relatively low because they have more water.
Broccoli also contains many plant compounds and there are some broccoli microgreens nutrition data to compare to mature broccoli.
Particularly interesting among the broccoli microgreens nutrition info are sulforaphane, indole-3-carbinol, carotenoids, kaempferol, and quercetin.
More on them below. But first, broccoli is a star!
- When comparing sulforaphane in broccoli microgreens to other Brassica micros, broccoli has the most.
- Broccoli micros also have more antioxidants and the best overall nutrition profile of the micros.
- When compared to adult broccoli, broccoli micros have the most carotenoids.
Broccoli Microgreens Benefits – Micro Broccoli Benefits
Regarding micro broccoli nutrition, they’re loaded with nutrients that are health-promoting and prevent cancer.
The combination of the plant compounds sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol together with antioxidants is particularly beneficial.
Together, they help fight several cancers and also help lower oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is a reaction to an imbalance of healing antioxidants and damaging free radicals.
This imbalance can result in cell damage and a higher risk of heart disease and cancer.
Additionally, fiber can help control your blood sugar, and quercetin, another antioxidant, can help lower blood pressure.
Tips on How to Grow Microgreens
When growing microgreens, for instance, Swiss chard, or if you’re growing broccoli microgreens, you need to include the following steps:
- Seeds The best seeds for microgreens don’t have to be microgreens seeds, as regular seeds work well. Choose seeds from a reputable grower to avoid bad or diseased seeds. Microgreen seeds can be hard to find.
- Grow You need a growing medium, a tray or a single-use mat, soil or a medium, 1-2 weeks’ time, and light and water. Common growing mediums are peat, perlite, and vermiculite.
- Soak You may need to soak the regular vegetable or microgreen seeds before planting to achieve a higher germination rate.
- Blackout Keep the seeds under a blackout dome for a few days. This will allow for sprouting to take place.
- Seeding Let the plants breathe by allowing enough room between them. Check the seeds per surface area on the bag before spreading. Allowing enough room will improve your germination, quality, and yield.
How-to Eat Sprouts and Different Types of Microgreens
From a practical standpoint, you can use sprouts and different types of microgreens as garnishes for salads, soups, and pizzas, main dishes, or use them as a side dish.
You can include them when making a microgreen salad mix, or sandwiches, tacos, and burgers.
Or simply to add nutritional value to a smoothie or flavor to an omelet.
For instance, lemon balm microgreens can be added to drinks due to the lemony fresh flavor.
And micro carrots will add a splash of color and are well suitable for curries and stews.
What Types of Microgreens Should Not Be Eaten?
While microgreens generally are considered safe to eat, there are a few things to keep in mind regarding food safety.
Firstly, if you are a cancer patient, and especially if you are being treated with chemotherapy or radiation, raw microgreens are not for you.
Since cancer treatment can lower your defenses, you could get very sick if they do harbor bacteria.
But if you’re growing micros at home, a few things to remember:
Firstly, use quality seeds from a reputable company. This will lower any risks of disease.
Secondly, sanitation is everything. That is, keep everything clean, rinse your greens daily, and allow enough air to flow around them.
Lastly, since you are meant to eat the leaves of micros, don’t use tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, or okra because their leaves may not be edible.
Microgreens have beautiful colors, unique taste, and exceptional nutritional value.
They’re high in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, and can help prevent cancer.
Sprouting enhances many nutrient levels and reduces some bad compounds.
As a consequence, sprouts and microgreens have higher concentrations of nutrients, and they’re easier for the body to absorb.
Furthermore, while sprouts are better at protecting cells, microgreens are better at keeping the immune system healthy.
And when you compare the nutritional value of broccoli microgreens with other micros, broccoli wins.
Also, broccoli microgreen data shows they have more antioxidants that are important for the immune system than adult broccoli.
The combination of the plant compounds together with antioxidants is particularly beneficial in broccoli.
Together, they help fight several cancers.
These general suggestions about types of microgreens are for educational purposes only and don’t constitute medical advice. Individuals may have unique sensitivities and may not tolerate microgreens.
Furthermore, cancer patients undergoing treatment should not eat raw microgreens as they’re at increased risk of getting sick. Please work with your health care practitioner to find the best way to promote your health. All rights reserved.