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As one of the hippest foods in the product aisle, microgreens are known for adding a splash of color to a dish, adding a spicy kick to a salad – and turning a piece of loose change into a grocery bill.

Known for a wide variety of flavors, textures and flavors, microgreens emerged as a product of the California restaurant scene in the 1980s. They are smaller than baby greens and are harvested only a week or two after germination – usually later as sprouts without leaves. They are usually 1 to 3 inches tall and are often sold with the stems attached.

Most microgreens are rich in concentrated vitamins and antioxidants. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry looked at 25 commercially available microgreens and found that they contained nutrient levels up to 40 times higher than that of more mature leaves. Other research has also shown that microgreens contain a greater variety of antioxidants and micronutrients known as polyphenols.

Aside from nutritional content, microgreens are no substitute for leafy and other greens in the diet, said Christopher Gardner, director of nutritional studies at Stanford Prevention Research Center in California. Instead, they serve a better purpose to add variety to a regular salad or other healthy meal.

According to federal dietary guidelines, an adult consuming 2,000 calories a day should eat 2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily, and variety is key. Still, nearly 90% of the US population is below that number, the guidelines say.

“I’ve been working with chefs more and more these days, and one of the things I’ve tried to help people leave is that food really should bring them joy and pleasure,” said Gardner, vice chairman of the Food Committee the American Heart Association. Microgreens are “delicious with that pungent spice that tastes in your mouth that you are not used to.”

Microgreens – sometimes referred to as “vegetable confetti” – are grown from the seeds of a variety of plant families including varieties such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, arugula, radicchio, carrot, celery, quinoa, spinach, melon, cucumber and pumpkin. They can be eaten individually, mixed into a smoothie, added to a wrap or salad, or used as an accompaniment to soups and other dishes.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s attitudes towards their grocery shopping habits, do-it-yourself microgreens offer a sustainable alternative. Growing at home can also be an antidote to high prices at the grocery store or farmers market. They can be grown indoors or outdoors all year round without the need for much time, equipment, or expertise.

“Has it anything to do with being in a New York apartment and being able to grow a little backyard tray of microgreens and add it to your food?” Said Gardner. “It might not be the meal, it might just be something you add to what you eat for taste.

“Perhaps the actual size makes it more accessible for some people to grow on their own, making them feel a little more in touch with the food they are eating because they are producing it.”

Red cabbage microgreens lower “bad” cholesterol in animal experiments. Provided by the American Heart Association

Quote: Trendy microgreens offer flavors to grow at home (2021 Jan 11). Retrieved January 11, 2021 from

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