We all know that lettuce and spinach are good for us. Heck, it’s been engrained in our brains since we were little.
“Eat your greens,” your mom would say. Or “no playing outside until you finish that salad.”
But if you’re like most of us, you were probably just eating the leaves of those greens, right? Well little did you know, all those years you were leaving out some of the most nutritious parts of the veggie!
In fact, new research shows that microgreens (the shoots of most salad veggies) come with a whole slew of benefits that can improve your health, fitness and overall wellness. They can even make you look younger!
Let’s take a minute to learn about these powerful greens now.
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens encompass a wide variety of veggies and produce. They are generally pretty small (hence the “micro” in their name), and they run the gamut when it comes to flavor. Some are sweet, some are spicy and some are more zesty and robust.
Essentially, a microgreen consists of a single veggie stem that has been cut just above the soil line. It is thin, pliable and, often, white or light greenish in color.
You can find microgreens on these common vegetables:
- Swiss chard
- Water cress
- Brussels sprouts
Microgreens can be used to add flavor to a dish or as a garnish. They can also help add nutritional value in small doses.
The Benefits of Microgreens
Microgreens come with a huge variety of health benefits. For one, they’re extremely high in some very important nutrients, namely beta-carotene, iron and calcium. Some varieties are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, too. These are phytonutrients that are crucial to your overall health. They keep your skin, eyes and immune system at top function, and they also protect you from harmful free radicals and toxins. Additionally, they’re also an antioxidant, and they’ve been known to prevent chronic eye conditions, macular degeneration and cataracts.
Microgreens are also high in vitamin C, which helps your body produce collagen to keep your tissues strong and your skin smooth. It also drives your immune system and helps you better absorb iron throughout your entire body.
Many microgreens are high in vitamins E and K, too. Vitamin E is necessary to help your body produce red blood cells, and it has even been linked to heart disease and cancer prevention. Vitamin K, on the other hand, is crucial for healing and blood clotting, and it can improve bone density and reduce your risk of osteoporosis, according to research.
Another added benefit is that they have very little pesticide and herbicide exposure, especially when compared with more full grown vegetables. They’re smaller, and they haven’t been in the ground, exposed to toxic chemicals as long, and therefore, they’re less likely to pass these toxins on once consumed.
The most nutritious microgreens? That’d be red cabbage, cilantro, amaranth and daikon radish.
Working Microgreens into Your Diet
Incorporating microgreens into your daily eating is actually quite easy, as there’s an option for virtually every flavor and type of cuisine out there. They can also be eaten either raw or cooked, though you’ll get more nutrients (and flavor) from them if you leave them as-is. Just chop up a handful, throw it over the top your dish, and you’re good to go.
For Asian-inspired dishes, you’ll want to stick to things like cilantro and basil, while heartier, more robust dishes can get a boost from Swiss chard or radish greens. Spinach, arugula and cabbage microgreens make great additions to sandwiches and burgers, and egg dishes can get a great, salty kick with some watercress.
Luckily, microgreens are pretty easy to find in most groceries stores, and they’re very affordable, too. You can get a whole bunch of them for a dollar or less most of the time! Just make sure not to over-buy. You want to be able to use them all up before they go bad, so you’re not being wasteful. You also have the option of growing your own microgreens at home. You don’t even need a full garden. Just get a small pot, plant them in some soil and place in your window sill. It’s incredibly easy (and you don’t have to have a green thumb to do it!)
My favorite way to eat microgreens (aside from in a salad), is to make a faux egg-salad sandwich. I boil some cage-free eggs, mixed the egg with a spoonful of Greek yogurt, throw in a handful of chopped up watercress, sprinkle with some sea salt and serve between two slices of Ezekiel bread. It’s a delicious lunch that just screams of childhood!
Have you ever eaten or cooked with microgreens? Let me know your thoughts about them in the comments.
Remember to share this article with all of your friends and family, so that they can also discover the powerful benefits of these micro veggies.
Together we can make this world a happier, healthier world!