What are the “microgreens”.

“Microgreens” is a commercial term for very young vegetable shoots, which grow up to either the first actual leaves or the cotyledons.

Although Microgreens are already popular in North America, but also in northern Europe, Asia and Oceania where more and more chefs are used to create gourmet dishes or high gastronomy dishes and meet the needs of modern consumers, more and more people who worry about their health and are especially careful with it and the quality of food have begun and deal with them.

Though often used for aesthetic upgrading of garnish, microgreens also have a very good nutritional profile and today represent one of the most interesting innovations in the fresh fruit and vegetable market to the point of being super foods, in addition to nutrient intake, can also provide bioactive compounds capable of improving certain functions of the organism and / or reducing the risk of developing diseases.

Thanks to their unique peculiarities, microgreens are a rich source of food for demanding consumer groups such as vegetarians and vegans who can diversify and enrich their diet using the wide variety of available microgreens.

A recent study, conducted by a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) research team and the University of Maryland, analyzing the concentration of vitamins C, E and K and carotenoids (β-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin) in twenty five varieties microgreens, showed that compared to conventional vegetables harvested at the typical commercial maturation stage, microgreens have antioxidant content even ten times higher.

For example, in the case of red cabbage, comparing the amount of vitamins mentioned above in microgreens with the same species collected at regular maturation, microgreens showed an average vitamin C content six times higher (147 vs. 23.5 mg / 100 g fresh product),  400 times higher vitamin E (24.1 vs. 0.06 mg / 100 g) and a 60-fold higher content of vitamin K (2.4 vs. 0.04 μg / g).

Taking into account the daily intakes recommended by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for vitamin C (60 mg), vitamin E (13 mg) and vitamin K (70 μg), even a few grams of microgreens can fully satisfy the recommended daily intake of these three vitamins.

For a medium-sized adult, consumption of about 41 g of red cabbage microgreens would be enough to meet the recommended daily vitamin C intake or 15 g radish microgreens to meet daily vitamin E intake and only 17g of amaranth would be sufficient to satisfy the daily intake of vitamin K. In addition, it is worth noting that, compared to traditional cooked vegetables, consumption of raw microgreens has the advantage of avoiding loss of nutrients or vitamins sensitive to heat degradation.

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