The Power of Microgreens for Your Digestive Health
Since the late 1980’s when microgreens hit chef’s tables in San Francisco, scientists have been studying their health benefits. And what they have found has been cause for celebration. Microgreens are harvested long before their mature counterparts, but they already contain all of the nutrients and vitamins they would as full-grown plants. Because of this early harvest, both the flavor and the health benefits are intensified. And it is just this density of nutrients that make microgreens a powerful panacea for digestive health. Ancient Greek Doctor Hippocrates said, “All diseases begin in the gut.” The middle of your body is a powerhouse responsible for metabolism, immunity, digestion, excretion, weight management, and even brain function and mental health.
Microgreens 101: The Basics
Rather than being a specific type of seed or plant, like many people think, microgreens are simply a stage of development. After planting seeds, they germinate and create a little sprout. The second stage of a plant occurs when the first leaves start to unfurl, also known as cotyledons. If plants are harvested at this stage they are considered microgreens. The third stage is when a plant grows to its full mature self. The good news is that recent studies have shown that microgreens can aid in digestion.
Microgreen Benefits for Digestive Health
Ancient Greek Doctor Hippocrates said, “All diseases begin in the gut.” The middle of your body is a powerhouse responsible for metabolism, immunity, digestion, excretion, weight management, and even brain function and mental health.
The digestive process is as complex as it is fascinating. There is a lot going on in your gut that you tend to take for granted unless of course,s you are having trouble digesting things. Scientists have long theorized that fruits and vegetables help the digestive system run more smoothly, and the same holds true for their mini counterparts, microgreens.
Microgreens contain a plethora of phytonutrients, the compounds that plants create to protect themselves from fungi and other troubles, For example, the microbes in your gut use myrosinase to metabolize glucoraphanin in microgreens to sulforaphane, which is a powerful antioxidant. In addition to detoxification of the body and helping with kidney function, sulforaphane promotes fat loss, reduces inflammation, and aids in cardiovascular health.
In a scholarly article titled Gut Glucosinolate Metabolism and Isothiocyanate Production, scientists assert “The products of myrosinase‐based glucosinolate hydrolysis in the human gut are important to health, particularly the isothiocyanates, as they are shown to have anticancer properties as well as other beneficial roles in human health.” It is this process in the human body that uses plant compounds to aid in human health.
So how do we get these benefits to our digestive system and overall health? Broccoli is the answer!! Scientists have long touted the benefits of cruciferous vegetables. And it is just this family of microgreens, the Brassica family, that will benefit you the most. Whether broccoli, leafy greens, cabbage, or kale, these microgreens hold all of the nutrients of their full-grown counterparts, and then some.
Recent research corroborates these findings. The United States Department of Agriculture reports, “Specifically, we demonstrated that there was an increase in gut microbial sulforaphane production upon frequent broccoli feeding in rats. More recently, we have preliminary data to show that is also true with kale.” Microgreens from the Brassica family help your body eliminate free radicals, and can help prevent cancer.
Why Not Just Eat the Whole Head of Broccoli?
The little powerhouses of phytochemicals called microgreens are a great source of these nutrients. Why eat microgreens instead of full-grown broccoli? Because the microgreens actually contain MORE of the health benefits than the full-grown plant does. And people might be adverse to sitting down and consuming a whole head of cabbage or a giant head of broccoli (think gas and bloating), but one ounce of broccoli microgreens a few days after germination offers the same phytonutrient benefits as 1.5 cups of full-grown broccoli. Scientists report that the microgreen version of broccoli contains 20-50 times the sulforaphane as its mature counterpart. If you can get more health benefits by eating fewer cruciferous vegetables, this is a real health victory.
Fiber is Your Friend
Along with phytonutrients, vegetables contain large amounts of fiber. A high fiber diet has long been known to benefit your digestive health, and at the heart of this is a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Dr. Linda Lee from Hopkins Medicine explains, “Eating a lot of fiber and leafy greens allow you to develop an ideal gut microbiome,” which refers to the trillions of organisms that live in the colon. An ideal gut microbiome keeps the digestive system on track.
Fiber offers many benefits:
- Since fiber helps you feel fuller longer, it helps you to lose weight.
- It regulates your stool so you avoid constipation.
- Fiber lowers your cholesterol naturally.
- Fiber helps to control your blood sugar levels.
So which microgreens offer the most fiber benefit? Well, certainly all of the leafy greens and the microgreens of the Brassica family qualify. Pay special attention to radish microgreens, which offer a plethora of vitamins and minerals along with fiber.
In addition to the Brassica family, microgreens that are darker in color tend to have more fiber. Some great choices for your fiber intake and your color palate include carrots, beets, swiss chard, and purple basil. Although all plants contain fiber, beginning with these deeply colored microgreens will jump-start your digestive system.
Best Microgreens for Your Gut
Microgreens from each of the six families below will keep your digestive system on track while offering you delicious choices for your diet.
- Brassicaceae family: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, radish, and arugula
- Asteraceae family: Lettuce, endive, chicory, and radicchio
- Apiaceae family: Dill, carrot, fennel, and celery
- Amaryllidaceae family: Garlic, onion, leek
- Amaranthaceae family: Amaranth, quinoa swiss chard, beet, and spinach
- Cucurbitaceae family: Melon, cucumber, and squash
Vitamin B, C, D, and magnesium are the powerhouse vitamins that contribute to your body’s ability to absorb food.
- Vitamin B is found in spinach and lettuce
- Vitamin C is plentiful in broccoli, greens, and squash.
- Vitamin D is found in carrots, beets, broccoli, and greens
- Magnesium is found in greens, winter squash, and quinoa
Best Ways to Prepare Microgreens for Digestive Health
Doctors recommend 4-6 servings of vegetables a day, and adding microgreens to the mix is a tasty, colorful way to meet these standards. If you are just starting out eating microgreens, it might seem daunting to figure out how to use them, but use the tips below to easily add microgreens to your diet.
- Eat microgreens raw on top of a salad or sandwich.
- Blend microgreens into a smoothie.
- Use in casserole dishes for a spike of vitamins and taste.
- Use in soups or dips.
- Experiment by making microgreen muffins.
- Garnish your meat dishes with microgreens.
Small but mighty, microgreens have a lot of power in aiding your digestive health. In addition to tasting delicious and adding color to your plate, microgreens have higher percentages of nutrients than their full-grown counterparts. With phytonutrients to protect gut health and fiber to keep you regular, microgreens pack a punch when it comes to taking care of your digestive system.
SOCIAL MEDIA QUESTIONS
- Would you ever take medical advice from an ancient Greek doctor? Find out why you should listen to Hippocrates by reading this informative article.
- If you were always stuck at the dinner table finishing your broccoli, then microgreens are for you! You can actually get MORE health benefits in one ounce of broccoli microgreens than in 1.5 cups of broccoli! Find out more ways to eat your veggies in this amazing article.
- Did you know that microgreens can help your heart work better? Find out the other systems of the body that are aided by microgreens in this informative article.
- What’s red and peppery and packed with phytonutrients that will help your gut work better? If you said radish microgreens, you are correct! Find out other microgreens that can strengthen your digestive system below.
- Can I bake microgreens into a muffin? Find out why you will want to by learning more about the extreme health benefit of microgreens below.
- Rats eat broccoli too! Discover how scientists used rats nibbling broccoli to prove that the Brassica family of vegetables will change your life for the better by reading the article below.