The days still feel short, and the weather is certainly feeling cold – so cold it’s been snowing. It’s important to be mindful of your nutrition at any time of the year, but as we gravitate toward those not-so-healthy comfort meals over the winter months it’s a great time to find easy and effective ways to boost your nutrient intake. To supercharge your diet with essential vitamins and minerals look no further than mighty microgreens!
Globally approximately two billion people, or 30% of the world’s population, are deficient in essential micronutrients. These deficiencies can ultimately lead to serious health issues down the line, such as anaemia or scurvy, so adding more nutrient dense food options like microgreens into your diet is something many people should seriously consider.
These powerful greens boast so many incredible benefits, below are some ideas on why you should incorporate them into your diet courtesy of Rick Hein, Managing Director of MicroThumbs, suppliers of microgreens to retailers countrywide.
Microgreens are tiny forms of young edible greens that are produced from herbs, vegetables and other plants. These edible greens are around four to eight centimetres long, and contain up to 40x more nutrients than mature vegetables. You may have seen microgreens before as the flavourful decorative garnishes on top of your Instagram-worthy restaurant dishes, but as these tasty vegetable greens truly pack a nourishing punch they are a superb addition to your daily diet at home.
“So many of us lead busy and active lifestyles, so it’s incredible that you can get far more nutrients than the average vegetable just by consuming a small amount of microgreens,” explains Hein. “Just one bite of microgreens delivers a mighty dose of health benefits.”
Processed foods have become staples in our diet – fresh food that is nutrient-rich is often seen as being expensive and time consuming to make.
Various studies show that globally farmland soil is diminishing in quality and becoming deficient in micronutrients, which affects the quality of produce that is being grown. In one such study, Canadian researchers compared current vegetable nutrient content to that grown 50 years ago. Shockingly, they found that the mineral content of cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes had depleted from 400 milligrams to less than 50 milligrams throughout the twentieth century.
“This means that even if you are a healthy eater, and if junk food and processed products aren’t part of your staple diet, you’d still need to supplement your diet to maintain your micronutrient levels for optimal health. Microgreens are an easy way to add a whole lot of wellness to your daily intake,” adds Hein.
Chock-full of amazing antioxidants, microgreens are harvested when they are still in their early growth stages, so they retain potently fresh nutrients. Antioxidants are the molecules that help your body fight free radicals – which are compounds that can become harmful if there are too many in your body. Illnesses such as diabetes and cancer are also connected to high levels of free radicals.
Whilst your body does have its own antioxidant protection mechanisms it’s still a great idea to consume food products to boost your body’s antioxidant defences. The precise antioxidants you can benefit from vary depending on the specific microgreen plant. For example, microgreens within the Brassica family (including broccoli) will contain vitamin E, and Asteraceae microgreens (such as lettuce), will contain vitamin A.
Immune boosting properties
With the winter flu season in full swing it’s essential to preserve and boost your body’s immune system. By now we all know the basics of taking care of the immune system – stay active, get rest and reduce stress. Due to their high vitamin and mineral content incorporating these mighty greens into your regular, balanced diet is a simple, but effective, way to further support your immunity this winter.
Before delving into why you should look to microgreens for their anti-inflammatory properties, let’s first break down what inflammation is and why we should all be aiming to reduce it. Inflammation is a physiological process that takes place so that our body’s tissue can repair itself. This typically happens when we experience an infection or allergic reaction. However, we can endure chronic inflammation regardless of suffering from an infection, and this can cause the development of various diseases and cancers. Signs of ageing are also worsened through chronic inflammation.
“Microgreens are rich in incredible phytochemicals, an active compound found in the greens, which are able to reduce inflammation as well as bolster support for your immune system,” explains Hein. These edible plants can be used in so many different dishes, raw or cooked, so they make a versatile and affordable solution to assist you with diminishing unnecessary inflammation.
When you’re next in a supermarket such as Checkers or Food Lovers Market, head over to the fresh produce section and pop a punnet of microgreens into your shopping trolley, to sprinkle into a salad or on a sandwich. In fact, says Hein, microgreens can even be used to add a dollop of goodness to a takeaway meal. Add a sprinkle to curries or a stirfry and enjoy additional health benefits with your meal.
Reaching for a health supplement may seem like an easy way to fight off flu this winter, but what can be better than getting a fresh, tasty dose of health in just one bite tonight! Microgreens truly are an easy and cost-effective way to supercharge your wellbeing this winter.