Baby spinach and baby lettuce are de rigeur in every grocery store, but a new study says that even younger greens might give us more nutritional benefits. Enter microgreens. These tiny leaves that are less than 14 days old can provide people with lots and lots of nutrients, possibly even more than baby or full-size varieties of leafy greens.
The study, conducted by USDA researched Gene Lester at the University of Maryland College Park, looked at 25 different varieties of very young greens, aka microgreens. The results, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, are pretty amazing. Researchers found that microgreens generally had four to size times the amounts of vitamins as fully mature greens of the same plant. That means tiny little baby leaves, which have barely been exposed to sunlight, can potentially provide people with large amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene.
And people are already growing microgreens. Brendan Davison grows microgreens in East Hampton, N.Y., and sells them to restaurants in the area. He says:
“I deliver the greens in the tray that they’re grown in, so I’m bringing the farm to the kitchen. The chefs can cut what they want with scissors right onto the plate, so they’re live and fresh.”
Sounds awesome, although I sure hope they wash the greens before they put them on people’s plates, don’t you? Regardless, it sounds like microgreens are a growing trend for both foodies and fitness freaks. Gene Lester said:
“Microgreens aren’t going to replace a big, leafy salad that has lots of fiber and will give you a good sense of satiety. But if you throw a big bunch of microgreens on anything, that’s a pretty good shot of vitamins.”
Apparently, there are some concerns about bacteria and microgreens, so producers will have to be extra careful about packaging. Still, they sound pretty great to me. I’m a greens lover anyway, but I’m love to try some teeny tiny spinach leaves in my cooking, especially if they can provide me with more of the vitamins and nutrients I need.