Yes, we’ve all heard it from our mothers: “Eat your greens because they’re good for you.” As children, there was nothing we dreaded more than the sight of leafy green veggies piled on our plates. As adults, we know they’re good for us, but it can still be challenging to get enough leafy greens in our diet. A staggering 87% of American adults fail to meet the government-recommended vegetable intake. That’s a lot of people not listening to their mothers.
According to a new study, there’s something more important than eating our greens: microgreens. Microgreens are the seedlings of herbs and plants that can be eaten at just one-two weeks during immaturity. Instead of waiting until the plants or herbs are fully matured, the seedlings can be eaten. Microgreens are typically used as a garnish or decorative element in fancy restaurants, but they have become popular in recent years as a supplement to the veggies in our diet. With the latest research, they’ve taken on a much more vital role.
These studies have found that microgreens have a higher vitamin content than regular greens—up to 40 times the vitamin A, C, and E. Now, a team of researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture found that microgreens can help to lower cholesterol levels. The researchers used six groups of 10 mice each, feeding them low and high-fat diets either with immature red cabbage, mature red cabbage, or no greens at all. As expected, the mice who ate veggies, mature or immature, had much lower cholesterol levels, even if they ate a high-fat diet.
However, here’s the kicker: the microgreens contained much higher levels of antioxidants (glucosinolates and polyphenols) than the mature cabbages. The mice who ate microgreens with a high-fat diet had much lower LDL cholesterol levels than the mice who ate mature cabbage.
Not only did the micro greens help to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, but levels of triglycerides (free-floating fats) also decreased significantly. This helped to decrease the risk of fat accumulating in the liver and lowered the chance of the mice developing both fatty liver and heart disease.
If you’re not a huge fan of leafy greens, now you’ve got something new to try: microgreens. As this and other studies have proven, the microgreens may actually be better for you than the mature greens. Even smaller servings of microgreens can provide a lot more nutrition, thanks to the higher antioxidant and vitamin content.
1. Thomas T.Y. Wang et al., “Red cabbage microgreens lower circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL), liver cholesterol, and inflammatory cytokines in mice fed a high-fat diet.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.6b03805, published 12 November 2016.