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Do microgreens have more nutrition?

What about microgreens?

vetstud  / Originally Posted in Antioxidants Sprouting Up


USDA researchers recently published a study assessing the nutrition content of 25 commercially available microgreens, seedlings of vegetables and herbs that have gained popularity in upscale markets and restaurants. Just a few inches tall, they boast intense flavors and vivid colors, but what about their nutritional content? No one knew until this new study came out.

We’ve known that baby spinach, for example, have higher levels of phytonutrients than mature spinach leaves, but what about really baby spinach, just a week or two old?

Microgreens won hands down (leaves down?), possessing significantly higher nutrient densities than mature leaves. For example, red cabbage microgreens have a 6-fold higher vitamin C concentration than mature red cabbage, and 69 times the vitamin K.

Microgreens are definitively more nutrient dense, but are often eaten in small quantities. Even the healthiest garnish isn’t going to make much of a difference to one’s health. And microgreens may go for $30 a pound! But BYOM—birth your own! You can have rotating trays of salad you can snip off with scissors. It’s like gardening for the impatient—fully grown in just 7 to 14 days! If that’s too long, what about sprouting? See my video Antioxidants Sprouting Up.

Homemade sprouts are probably the most nutrition-per-unit-cost we can get for our money. See Biggest Nutrition Bang for Your Buck, where they beat out the previous champ, purple cabbage (Superfood Bargains). Broccoli sprouts are probably the best—see for example The Best Detox and Sulforaphane From Broccoli to Breast. I would recommend against alfalfa sprouts (even when home sprouted) as fecal bacteria from manure can hide in the seed’s nooks and crannies and cause illness: Don’t Eat Raw Alfalfa Sprouts.

image credit: ilovemypit / Flickr


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

16 responses to “Do microgreens have more nutrition?

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  1. I would also like to know your stance on Maca Root powder. Some online sources say it’s a great “adaptogen” and so I’ve been adding it to my morning smoothies. Are there any real studies/research on this? Or is Maca another internet cure-all scam ala coconut oil?

  2. Is sprouted wheat healthier than regular ground wheat? That is after the small root begins to appear and when it is no longer than the grain itself,does the wheat grain develop added benefits when sprouted?

    1. Not as long as you have an adequate intake of Vitamin B12. Check out the series of video’s that Dr. Greger posted in February 2012. There however an indirect connection to lower back issues and diet that goes beyond Vitamin B12. Check out the video on arterial disease and back pain… Since the disc’s between the vertebrae get their nutrition by diffusion any interference with the blood supply to the lower vertebrae will result in more likelihood of disc narrowing and rupture with subsequent sciatica. Arterial disease starts in childhood… see and the PDAY study showed aortic disease by age 19 and much worse at age 35. Obviously the earlier you begin the correct diet with adequate vitamin B-12 intake the better.

  3. Dr Greger:

    First of all, love your site and your videos. Your charity to the world is just awesome. Thanks for educating the populous regarding health and nutrition related issues.

    However, from the many dozens of videos that I have watched in which you talk about foods that are helpful or harmful to the body, the studies are based on single foods of food types (veggies, nuts, fruits, etc). Are there any studies as to the good for you foods offsetting bad for you foods when you combine? I try to be good as often as I can but now and then I run into something like a broccoli slaw with raisins, sunflower seeds, onion, and then of course people have to put bacon in it too. Clearly I could just pick the bacon out BUT the bacon is out numbered 50 to 1 as far as good to bad, so do I just eat the slaw and hope that next time there is a meatless option?

    Or, sometimes there only good option happens to have dairy in it, i.e. pasta with a nice tomato, basil, garlic, oregano sauce. Do I not eat at all, or is the once and awhile bad thing that happens to come with much goodness ok?

    Most foods seem to be vegetarian with vegan being sporadic and difficult to run into when going to dinner or to friends homes to eat. Even something as simple as salads – not everyone has all the good stuff such as fats from nuts or avocado when they have salads. Is it better or worse to not eat salad at all, or eat the salad with a little of their vinaigrette and hope that the processed fats, in little amounts of dressing, only serves to help my body take in more of the fat soluble nutrients? Should I race home and power down a nutrient dense cocktail through my juicer?

    Side note – at home I am very strict so i am also hoping that my strictness inside my own walls is enough to counter the effects of not being militaristic when I am out and about with friends or family.

    What are your thoughts on the issue of having to sometimes live with combined foods from time to time or are their studies that deal with this?

    Many thanks in advance!

    1. mjs_28s: I can’t answer your direct question, but I have an idea for you: A lot of restaurants will make you a custom dish if you just call ahead and ask for a vegan dish. “Hi, I’ll be coming to your restaurant tomorrow with some friends. While my friends eat anything, I do not eat meat, diary or eggs. I saw your menu and was wondering if you could modify dish ___ to includes lots of bla and bla, but leave out the bla. You could even add bla to make up for the lack of bla. Can you do that?” Not all restaurants will do this, but many will, especially the higher-end ones.

      It’s just an idea to get you it all: a pleasant time with friends and family, a very tasty meal, etc., without having to compromise on your values (of good health, etc.).

  4. What about sprouts and food safety risk? Will cooking kill all pathogens? How will the vitamins/phytonutrients hold up to the cooking?

  5. Hi, Arthur. It is generally safer and less expensive to grow your own sprouts, and it is easy to do. If you grow sprouts in a clean jar, with clean water, then your sprouts should generally be safe, as well. If you are concerned about microbial contamination in your water, you can boil and cool it before use. Rinse and soak seeds overnight, and then rinse and drain a couple of times per day until sprouts are of the desired size. Keep the jar, with a mesh or cheesecloth cover, in a cool place out of direct sunlight. Sprouts and microgreens are generally eaten raw, not cooked. Nothing will kill all pathogens, and cooking will decrease the nutrient content of sprouts. Unless a person has compromised immunity, washed, home-grown sprouts should usually be safe to eat raw, with the exception of alfalfa sprouts, which Dr. Greger notes may be unsafe because the seeds can be contaminated. I hope that helps!

  6. Dr. Gregor; please evaluate the accuracy/methodology of the two microgreen studies that people seem to cite most often (USDA and Univ of Maryland). I read somewhere that the testing methodology was less than the gold standard as far as scientific study. For example, researchers allegedly studied one type of radish microgreen and compared to a different type of mature radish (perhaps Sambo radish compared to Daikon?). If so, is it appropriate for the microgreen crowd (myself included) to proclaim these microgreens as 40 times more nutritious than mature plants? Thanks

  7. Hi, Richard Hardy! Could you please provide links to the studies you mentioned, so that we know which ones you would like us to investigate? We have a very large number of questions to answer, and this will save us some time and help us to fully answer your question. Meanwhile, you might want to check out these, if you have not already seen them:
    I hope that helps!

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