Microgreens

Learn more about microgreens, how to grow your own, and the many ways to make microgreens part of your meals.

  • Published: 5/30/2022
  • 4 min. read

Tennie weeinie meannie greenies. Microgreens are basically baby buds that have sprouted their way into the restaurant scene. These petite plants come in a variety of colors and flavors, adding flare and nutrients to share. Learn more about microgreens, how to grow your own, and the many ways to make microgreens part of your meals.

What are microgreens?

Microgreens is a marketing term used to describe mini plants (1). These seedlings come from different vegetables and herbs. They usually have a couple of leaves and are harvested without their roots. They have become popular in the past few decades as a way to enhance texture, color, taste, and visual aspects of cuisine. They’ve also been endorsed for their health benefits (2). 

Are microgreens the same as sprouts?

You may know the classic sandwich or salad sprouts; those stingy white stems with a splash of green at the end. Although these closely resemble one another, sprouts are different from microgreens. Sprouts and microgreens are harvested at different times and look and taste different. 

Sprouts are cultivated when a seed or a spore begins to grow a shoot before the leaves develop. They are usually cultivated in water and take a couple of days to be ready to pick. Microgreens, on the other hand, can be grown either in water or soil. They are grown from sprouts and take a few weeks to reach harvest readiness. An easy way to distinguish the two is that microgreens have leaves. 

Are microgreens healthy?

Microgreens are considered to be a superfood because they are rich in nutrients and particularly beneficial for health. They pack a powerful nutrient punch, especially considering their petite size. Microgreens have similar amounts of vitamins and minerals compared to their adult versions. 

When microgreens were compared to the full-grown lettuce version, they were suggested to have higher content (up to 10% more) of calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, selenium, and molybdenum (3). For antioxidant levels, some research has suggested that microgreens can have up to 40 times more when compared to their full-grown versions (4). 

Like other vegetables, different varieties of microgreens vary slightly when it comes to nutrient content, but most contain good amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (5). Some research has suggested that they may help improve environmental impact by using up to 230 times less water than their mature versions with significantly fewer pesticides (6). 

How microgreens are helpful 

Whether in their micro or macro version, vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that are essential for human health. This includes keeping our immune system strong, helping fend off disease, metabolizing foods, increasing energy, and keeping our body structure and cells strong and functioning well.

Similar to a diet rich in vegetables, including microgreens in the daily diet may help reduce the risk for some diseases such as:

  • Cancer: sprouts and vegetables can contain a powerful antioxidant called sulforaphane, which has been suggested to help reduce the risk for some cancers (7). 

  • Heart disease: microgreens and other vegetables are rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and improve heart disease risk. These are also found in foods such as olive oil (8). 
  • Diabetes: diabetes is sometimes characterized by the inability to regulate blood sugar levels. Some microgreens and other vegetables have helped improve glucose cell absorption and balance insulin (9). 

Grow your own microgreens!

Microgreens are super easy and fun to grow! They can also be grown outside, but here we’ll cover how to grow them indoors:

  1. Grab a flat tray or Tupperware, with enough room to put about 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm) of soil. 
  2. Sprinkle the seeds evenly across the soil. It's fine if they are close together, so aim for a dense layer of seeds.
  3. Top with a bit more soil to cover the seeds. It can be helpful to sprinkle some water on top if you have a spray bottle. You can also use your hand to flick some water on.
  4. Place the tray close to the window with natural light. If you don’t have access to sunlight, you can use a grow light. 
  5. Use the same method of watering, either with a spray bottle or flicking water on a few times per day. This should only be a tiny mist. 
  6. Watch them grow! After about a week or two, when they reach about 3 inches (7.5 cm) tall, you can harvest them.
  7. Cut off the greens at the soil level, wash before use, and enjoy.

Make microgreens part of your meals 

Microgreens add interesting flavor and color to meals. They can be used for both savory or sweet dishes. Since they can be eaten fresh, they are excellent on sandwiches, wraps, salads, and smoothies. They also complement warm dishes super well by adding a fresh garnish and flavor to foods such as soup, eggs, bowls, and plates of pasta. 

Craving more delicious microgreen recipes? Download the Lifesum app and check these macro-delicious meals out:

All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice.

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All of the content and media on Lifesum is created and published for information purposes only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Users should always consult with a doctor or other health care professional for medical advice. If you have or think you are at risk of developing an eating disorder, do not use the Lifesum app and seek immediate medical help.

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