The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) at the University of Maryland has worked with the United States Department of Agriculture to study the level of nutrients in microgreens compared to their mature counterparts. Microgreens are tiny, immature versions of vegetables, herbs and other plants harvested anywhere from a week to two weeks after germination that tend to be about one to two inches long with the stem and leaves still attached. Microgreens are currently low in production and high in cost, so they are typically only seen in fine dining restaurants, used as delicately placed garnishes or for a pop of unique flavor. They are extremely delicate, with a shelf life of two to five days.
Assistant professor Qin Wang and graduate student Zhenlei Xiao with the College of AGNR’s Department of Nutrition and Food Science (NFSC) participated in studying nutrients like Vitamin C, E, K and beta carotene found in 25 different types of microgreens including cilantro, celery, red cabbage, green basil and arugula. Their results were surprising. Wang and Xiao found that microgreens contain four to 40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts. More research remains to be done on their mature counterparts as well as other varieties of the microgreens themselves.
Wang, Xiao and USDA researchers are also looking into ways to make the microgreens less delicate. They are testing the effects of light exposure, different temperatures, washing procedures and packaging techniques.
For more information, visit: http://agnr.umd.edu/news/mighty-microgreens
September 6, 2012