How To Grow Microgreens For Health Benefits

Parvati, Dilip Kumar Chaurasiya
Parvati, Dilip Kumar Chaurasiya
Micro Green
Micro Green

Microgreens have been included in the diets of health-conscious people because of their ability to fill in nutritional gaps and reduce illness risk. And now, as a result of the spreading pandemic, the rest of the world is becoming more aware of these natural wonders.

Microgreens are edible, fragile, immature, or juvenile vegetable greens picked after the cotyledonary leaves have developed and the first genuine leaves have appeared. They're regarded as prospective functional meals because of their nutrient profile, and they're also used as a flavor, texture, and taste substitute for sprouts. Microgreens may be cultivated both indoors and outdoors because they take up little space and are simple to grow. The only problem cultivators face with microgreens is that they are delicate, vulnerable, and have a short shelf life.

What are micro-greens?

Before becoming a full plant, a seed passes through several stages of development. Micro-greens are small vegetable greens that grow to be about 1–3 inches tall (2.5–7.5 cm). The "micro-greens" stage is one of these, in which the seed grows into tiny plants that are larger than sprouts but smaller than baby greens. They have an aromatic flavor and are available in a range of colors and textures, as well as having a high nutrient content.

Types of micro-greens

The most popular varieties are produced using seeds from the following plant families

Brassicaceae family: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, radish and arugula

Asteraceae family: Lettuce, endive, chicory and radicchio

Apiaceae family: Dill, carrot, fennel and celery

Amaryllidaceae family: Garlic, onion, leek

Amaranthaceae family: Amaranth, quinoa Swiss chard, beet and spinach

Cucurbitaceae family: Melon, cucumber and squash

Why are we talking about microgreens?

Micronutrient deficiency affects a large section of the Indian population, resulting in stunted growth and a variety of major health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. "Vitamin and mineral deficiency causes poor physical and mental health, anemia, and impaired immune and endocrine functions." Such a shortage can be caused by a lack of a well-balanced diet, failure to meet nutritional needs during pregnancy, advanced age, or frequent illness. The use of some drugs or medications reduces the absorption of micronutrients, resulting in deficiency. In India, about 6,000 children under the age of five die every day. Malnutrition, particularly a deficiency of vitamin A, iron, iodine, zinc, and folic acid, is responsible for more than half of these deaths. Subclinical vitamin A deficiency affects approximately 57% of preschoolers and their mothers.

The connection between microgreens and micronutrient deficiencies

Classification of micronutrients

Water-soluble vitamins that are dissolved in fat and stored in the liver and fatty tissues of the body for future use are known as water-soluble vitamins.

Micro minerals are minerals that the body needs in smaller amounts to perform essential tasks. Calcium, phosphorus, and sodium are examples of these elements.

Minerals required in the smallest quantities by the body are known as "trace minerals." Iodine, iron, manganese, and other trace elements are examples.

Micronutrient deficits can be passed down across generations, although food, supplements, and fortification can help to prevent them. Pallor, or pale complexion, exhaustion, weakness, breathing problems, strange food cravings, and hair loss are all classic indications of micronutrient deficiencies. Constipation and moments of lightheadedness.

Benefits of microgreens and why are they termed ‘superfood’?

Because of their numerous health benefits, microgreens are called functional foods and superfoods. As a result, they're known as 'functional superfoods.' Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and other activities can be found in them.

  • 40 times more nutrient dense than fully grown vegetables

  • high in antioxidants and other nutrients

  • High in vitamins A, B, C, E, and K

  • High in phytonutrients, which help to keep illnesses and infections at bay.

Microgreens have been associated to a lower risk of a variety of ailments, including:

  • Heart disease: Polyphenols, a type of antioxidant related to a lower risk of heart disease, are abundant in microgreens. Microgreens have been shown in animal experiments to reduce triglyceride and "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.

  • Alzheimer’s disease: Antioxidant-rich diets, particularly those high in polyphenols, have been related to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.

  • Diabetes: Antioxidants may aid in the reduction of the stress that prevents sugar from entering cells. Fenugreek microgreens appeared to increase cellular sugar absorption by 25–44% in lab experiments.

  • Certain cancers: Fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, particularly those high in polyphenols, may reduce the incidence of different cancers. Microgreens high in polyphenols are likely to have comparable effects.

Microgreens have a macro-nutrient composition and provide a number of health benefits. Phytochemicals such as phenolic compounds and carotenoids, vitamins such as vitamin C, and minerals such as zinc and copper abound in them.

How to Grow Microgreens?

In metropolitan areas, growing microgreens at home is becoming increasingly popular. Microgreens are gaining popularity among nutritionists, vegans, vegetarians, and raw foodists due to the variety of microgreens that can be cultivated effortlessly. Kitchen gardens, workstations, window panes, and even back yards can all be used to grow it.

Microgreen seeds, neutral or slightly acidic water or drinking water, growing containers, and growing medium are all required (like a soil-peat mix, coconut coir, synthetic fibers, hemp mat, or cotton mat). To drain excess water, the bottom of the growing containers or tray should have draining holes. The tray should be filled with your preferred growing material.

Fill another tray with water and slowly dip the bottoms of the growing trays into the water to wet the soil and help the microgreens seeds attach to the soil better. Once moist enough, drain the extra water. After that, scatter enough microgreens seeds throughout the soil. Microgreen seeds that are non-hybrid, open-pollinated, and GMO-free are perfect for growth. The seeds do not need to be covered with soil. To encourage germination, certain seeds will require previous treatments such as overnight soaking.

It's vital to sprinkle water after seeding to keep the soil moist. It is recommended that they be kept in the dark for a few days to aid germination. Placing a weight on top of some seeds, such as peas and sunflower shoots, will keep the seed in contact with the soil and assist the shoots in de-hulling their seeds from the cotyledons.

After the seedlings have emerged, make sure they have enough light (natural or artificial) and water. The microgreens are ready to harvest when the first genuine leaves appear. For most species, the time between germination and harvesting is 7 to 14 days.

Nutritional Facts of Microgreens

Because microgreens are high in minerals and vitamins, they can help enhance immunity, fight chronic diseases, and prevent and treat nutritional deficiencies.

  • Microgreens have a vitamin C level ranging from 29.9 to 123.2 mg/100g fresh weight (FW). Vitamin C levels in jute and cucumber microgreens were found to be at 17.45 mg/100 g FW and 10.00 mg/100 g FW, respectively.

  • Antioxidant minerals like as zinc are present in ranges between 4.76 mg/kg FW to 29.12 mg/kg FW in microgreens, which are generally greater than mature ones. When compared to raw seeds and sprouted seeds, small legumes like alfalfa and zigzag clover have 0.6 to 3.2 times more zinc concentration.

  • Wheat has 53.36 mg of carotenoid per 100g dry weight, while barley had 56.08 mg per 100g dry weight. Wheat and barley showed an increase in carotenoid content 16 days after seeding.

  • Broccoli has a high polyphenol concentration of around 3.63 mcg/g FW.

  • Mustard microgreens have a higher concentration of anthocyanin (405.53 mcg/g FW).).

  • Beta-carotene is also abundant in microgreens (redcabbage-11.5 mg/100g FW).

Microgreens, like nature, have their own unique beauty. These small greens offer a huge nutritional profile, a brilliant color, a crisp flavor, and a long list of health advantages. The abundance of bioactive chemicals found in microgreens attests to their vast research and health advantages.


Parvati1, Dilip Kumar Chaurasiya*2

1Research Scholar, Dept. of Home Science, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh (221 005), India

2Dept. of Plant Pathology, Post Graduate College of Agriculture

Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural, University, Pusa, Samastipur- 848125, Bihar, India

*Corresponding email: dilipkchaurasiya39@gmail.com

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