Making food and grocery choices for our families can be stressful and confusing sometimes.
Microgreens versus vegetables are no exception.
Sometimes we have to make the difficult choice between cost and nutrition.
Other times it’s done, we travel across town or stay in the neighborhood.
And in this busy world, it’s down to do we make a quick dinner or spend an hour in the kitchen after a long day.
Microgreens are young versions of vegetables. Microgreens taste like vegetables with a more intense flavor. They take days to grow and harvest versus weeks for the comparable vegetables. Microgreens are more expensive per gram. However, they have been shown to have five to forty times more nutrient content per gram.
When making food choices for your families, it is always a balancing act to get the most nutrition at the best price you can afford.
Those are never easy choices.
But I promise that you will have the information to compare microgreens versus vegetables before you finish reading this post.
What Vegetables Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are the tender, immature seedlings of edible vegetables, herbs, and grasses.
They are an emerging superfood, poised to disrupt how we eat vegetables.
Microgreens are small.
They measure one to three inches in height
But they come in a variety of intense flavors, bright colors, and crunchy tastes.
They are packed with nutrients.
Types of Microgreens
Many plants can be grown as microgreens.
There are hundreds of vegetables and herbs that can make good microgreens.
I have even read where some grains and grasses, like wheatgrass, can make incredible microgreens.
Farmers categorize microgreens based on the plant family they belong to.
The grouping gives us a broad idea of what kind of taste they’ll have, their preferred growing conditions, and nutrient content.
Table 1 Microgreens Plant Families
|Plant Family||Genera / Type|
|Amaranthaceae||Amaranth, beets, chard, quinoa, and spinach|
|Amaryllidaceae||Chives, garlic, leeks, and onions|
|Apiaceae||Carrot, celery, dill, and fennel|
|Asteraceae||Chicory, endive, lettuce, and radicchio|
|Brassicaceae||Arugula, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, radish, and watercress|
|Cucurbitaceae||Cucumbers, melons, and squashes.|
|Lamiaceae||Most common herbs like mint, basil, rosemary, sage, and oregano|
|Poaceae||Grasses and cereals like barley, corn, rice, oats, wheatgrass; legumes, beans, chickpeas, and lentils.|
Microgreens vs. Vegetable Nutrition
Table 1 below, from the USDA Food Composition Databases, compares mineral and vitamin content in a 1-cup serving of seven mature leafy greens.
Table 2 Nutrients in Mature Greens
|Calcium (mg)||Potassium (mg)||Magnesium (mg)||Vit E (mg)||Vit C (mg)||Vit A (IU)||Vit K (ug)||Folate (ug)|
*mg = milligrams | *IU=International Units | *ug = micrograms
These vegetables also contain an abundance of carotenoids-antioxidants, lutein, and flavonoids that protect cells prevents macular degeneration, and play roles in blocking the early stages of cancer.
They also contain high levels of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Furthermore, vegetable greens have minimal carbohydrates, sodium, and cholesterol.
Compound Nutrition: Microgreens vs. Vegetable
Broccoli microgreens, kale, and red cabbage show very high sulforaphane concentrations, scientifically shown to have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects.
Arugula, swiss chard, amaranth, kale, and spinach are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K.
Vitamin K protects against osteoporosis and helps to prevent inflammatory diseases.
Broccoli, bok choy, and mustard are also rich in many B-vitamins that promote heart health.
What Are The Healthiest Microgreens?
One of the most widely cited research studies of microgreen nutrition, red cabbage, cilantro, garnet amaranth, and green daikon radish had the highest concentrations of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin E, respectively.
Microgreens contain more significant amounts of nutrients and health-promoting micronutrients than their mature counterparts.
Because they are rich in nutrients, smaller amounts may provide similar nutritional effects than larger quantities of mature vegetables.
Microgreens are four to 20 times more nutrients than mature plants.
One ounce of broccoli, kale, and cabbage microgreen mix contains the amount of sulforaphane found in 1.5 pounds of raw broccoli.
Sulforaphane has also been proven to ease symptoms associated with an autism spectrum disorder.
Minerals are essential and essential nutrients for humans.
Recent studies suggest that microgreens are excellent sources of minerals.
Compost-grown broccoli microgreens had between 1.15 and 2.32 times more minerals, including phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, calcium, sodium, and copper than its mature vegetable counterpart.
Microgreens are also a great source of beneficial plant compounds like antioxidants.
Why Are Microgreens So Expensive?
Microgreens can be pricy, $1.50 – $3.00 per ounce.
A bag of organic spinach costs $0.40 – $0.80 per ounce.
But spinach microgreens deliver five to forty times more nutrients than mature leaves.
So, while you pay three times more per ounce for microgreens vs. vegetable greens, you are getting 10 times the nutrients.
And with some vegetables with high carbohydrates, like radish and carrots, you get no carbohydrates versus microgreens. – better for weight control.
Where to Buy Microgreens
If you don’t have time to grow them, you can buy microgreens from local farmers, reducing the amount you will spend when you buy in food stores.
One way to cut down on the cost of microgreens is by growing them at home.
You can grow them in small or large trays depending on the needs of your family.
Although microgreens cost more, adding small portions to their diets will give your family a balanced diet.
Can You Eat Too Many Microgreens?
Except for Niacin (Vitamin B3), there are no known side effects or toxicity at high doses of B vitamins found in microgreens.
The common side effect of too much Vitamin B3 is diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps.
Around 2,000mg of vitamin C is considered the limit before you start getting headaches. However, anything over 1,000mg can cause diarrhea.
However, there is a reason why you only see rhubarb stalks at your grocery.
Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which is used in bleach and antirust products!
Overeat, and you might start to vomit and feel weak.
How much microgreens to eat per day
But don’t worry.
The research I found says if you’re about 145 pounds (65.7 kg), it will take about 25 grams (0.06 lbs.) of pure oxalic acid to kill you.
You’d need to eat about 11 pounds (5 kg) of rhubarb leaves and 7 pounds (3.2 kg) of spinach at one sitting to get that 24 grams of oxalic acid.
Here are five varieties of microgreens that you can eat daily at every meal and not have to worry about overeating or to eat too little.
- Broccoli microgreens
- Kale microgreens
- Pea shoot microgreens
- Radish microgreens
- Amaranth microgreens
Of all the other microgreens, amaranth has the highest antioxidant capacity.
You can read the blog post, Eat To Meet Your RDA: The 12 Microgreens Vitamins You Need to learn more.
Cooking Microgreens vs. Vegetables
When I tasted my first microgreens, there were so many flavors.
Some were bland, others spicy or bitter.
I haven’t had sour-tasting microgreens yet, but we’re working on it.
When you taste carrot microgreens, for example, your taste buds get an unbelievably concentrated flavor. You think you’re eating carrots.
Each microgreen variety tastes like a clearer flavored (and often more potent) version of the adult plant.
- Arugula microgreens taste more like arugula.
- Cilantro microgreens are more potent than full-grown cilantro.
- And basil microgreens are lemonier than basil.
Sometimes, they can alter the flavor profile of your meal.
Microgreens flavors evolve as their leaves begin the process of photosynthesis.
And the leaves can taste different from the stems.
Try different varieties that range from fruity and sweet, to earth and salty, to spicy and bitter.
Use them in soups, sandwiches, wraps and salads, as toppers on pizzas, on avocado toast or bruschetta
Want to know what do microgreens taste like?
What If I Told You That You Can Cook Microgreens?
Eat Now! Microgreen Soups: 15 Savory Low Fat Pocket Recipes (The Easy Guide to Cooking with Microgreens Book 2) available on Amazon.
“Very Informative. This will definitely open your eyes and get you eating much better for your health.” – Jennifer
“What we eat matters. This read opened my eyes. Enlightened me on the power of microgreens. Clearly well researched.” – Liz
How to grow microgreens at home?
Microgreens are convenient to grow. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You can grow them on your windowsill, in your kitchen, and in your garden.
My post, Growing Microgreens at Home in Containers, shares instructions on how to grow microgreens in your home that are delicious, tasty, healthy, and safe to eat.
How do I start incorporating the health benefits of microgreens into my nutrition?
I’ve learned a lot about microgreens, how good they are for you, and what you can do with them. Check out my guide, “The Beginner’s Nutritional Guide to Incredible Microgreens.”