Q & A - What Are Microgreens

Microgreens are seedlings of a variety of different vegetables and herbs, ranging in size from 1-3 inches. They differ from sprouts because they are grown in soil (or hydroponically), you don’t eat the roots and they aren’t harvested until the cotyledons emerge.

Cotyledons are the embryos in plant seeds. Once seeds germinate, the cotyledons become the seedling's first leaves. They provide an energy source for plants to grow.

Microgreens are harvested at soil level 1-3 weeks after sowing, when the cotyledon is fully developed until after the first true leaves have emerged. True leaves will be larger than cotyledons and look like the plant. In other words, the true leaves of lettuce microgreens will look like miniature lettuce.

Microgreens can protect your health from toxic chemical exposure because they are “functional foods”. Or as I like to call them – Protox Foods.

Functional foods have health promoting or disease preventing properties, besides their normal nutritional values. When it comes to microgreens, they contain higher concentrations of bioactive compounds like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, than mature greens.

For example, red cabbage microgreens contain approximately 260 times more β-carotene, more than 40 times more vitamin E, and is up to 6 more vitamin C than mature red cabbage.

A 2018 review of microgreen studies has defined microgreens as a new food for the 21st century attributing them a potential role as anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, anti-obesogenic and anti-atherosclerotic

Commonly grown microgreens include:

  • Brassicaceae family: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, radish and arugula
  • Amaranthaceae family: Amaranth, quinoa, swiss chard, beet and spinach
  • Asteraceae family: Lettuce, endive, chicory and radicchio

For more info on the protox benefits of microgreens and how to grow them, check out The Protox Benefits of Microgreens.