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Microgreens – maximum nutritional punch

You may have noticed that in the last few weeks we have been adding sprouts and microgreens to our bags. The reason for this is that these small seeds and leaves are nutritional powerhouses, and we should all be adding them to our diets regularly to enhance our health!

I recently went on an 8 hour car ride and, as I had not yet used up my tray of pea shoots, I decided to take them with. I was pleasantly surprised when my 7 and 9 year old boys were asking for for pea shoots as snacks on the road trip! Pea shoots are so versatile, I have added them to salads, added them on top of pizza and just eaten them alone as a snack.

What are microgreens?
They are plants that are harvested when they are still very young, often only having 2 to 6 true leaves. They are somewhere between sprouts and mature leaves which you may find in salads.

Why are sprouted seeds and microgreens so nutritious?
When a seed, grain or legume sprouts, it releases enzymes which often make it easier to digest and more nutritious than the original dormant seed. Not only does the sprouting process increases the vitamin, mineral and protein content in the seed, much of the starch is also broken down into simple sugars, decreasing the carbohydrate content and its calories. Just a few sprouts or microgreens can really pack a nutritional punch.

One example of this is that in the dried form seeds, grains and legumes do not have any measurable vitamin C. As soon as they have sprouted they can have significant amounts, due to their absorption of some nutrients from the atmospheric during their growth. Another great benefit of sprouting is that seeds such as beans lose much of their gas producing quality, due to their gas producing chemicals being decreased by about 90%.

Broccoli and radish sprouts are high in antioxidants which have been shown to inhibit the development of cancer. Also contain vitamins A, B, C, E and K, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc. Sprouted broccoli seeds can provide the body withup to 100 times the cancer fighting sulfurophane that mature broccoli gives you.

Here are some links that show you the benefits of broccoli sprouts in cancer prevention and especially breast cancer:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC23369/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20388854

Alfalfa sprouts have a sweet nutty flavour. They are high in phytoestrogens, which are beneficial compounds in plants that can help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis, and alfalfa sprouts have been shown to reduce LDL cholestrol. They are rich in Vitamins A,B,C, E and K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. They also have as much carotene as carrots.

Microgreens and sprouts are a fantastic way to get a high concentration of vitamins, minerals and enzymes into your diet. If you haven’t tried sprouts or microgreens yet, I hope that this has persuaded you to try them!