What is the difference between microgreens and sprouts?

Summary: Sprouts are seeds soaked in water overnight and then rinsed and drained several times a day until they’re ready to eat.

Consuming greens is one of the best ways to get heaps of nutritional value into meals. Green leafy vegetables contain high levels of nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium, among many others and depending on different types. Even better, many people who are health conscious and want to make sure they’re fueling their bodies with nutrient-dense food enjoy the younger versions of plants like sprouts or microgreens because they are praised for high concentrations of nutrition. But while you may have heard of sprouts and microgreens, or even had them on a sandwich or in another dish, what really is the difference between microgreens and sprouts?

Microgreens vs Sprouts: A comparison

To most, sprouts and microgreens may appear to be the same – but this isn’t true at all! Not only are they grown and harvested at different stages, but they also have varying nutritional values, among other qualities, which will be outlined below.

Growing microgreens vs sprouts

When it comes to growing sprouts and microgreens, the processes are completely distinguishable. When growing sprouts, seeds are soaked in water overnight and then rinsed and drained several times a day until they’re ready to eat. Sprouts are usually ready to eat within approximately four to six days. This process doesn’t require much more than water and a sprouting jar. No light, soil, or nutrients are needed to grow sprouts, which makes them fairly simple to grow so long as they are rinsed regularly. Sprouts are harvested by removing any floating seed husks through this rinsing cycle, and gently dried by blotting with a towel.

Microgreens, on the other hand, are usually grown in a more traditional manner. The seeds are planted in soil, similar to normal crops.  However, microgreens are usually grown inside a shallow container as they do not require deep rooting. While most people grow microgreens in soil, some kits allow you to grow them on mats or other substances that are less messy than soil. Once planted, the microgreens are watered lightly (a spray bottle works well) on a regular basis until they have sprouted. These first set of leaves are called “cotyledons.” It is at this point that most people harvest their microgreens. Typically, harvesting occurs within one to three weeks by simply cutting the stem at the soil line.

Nutritional value of microgreens vs sprouts

While both sprouts and microgreens are recognized as nutritional powerhouses, research shows that microgreens are more nutritious than sprouts. In a principal experiment studying 25 commercially available varieties of microgreens, the key nutrients found were ascorbic acid (vitamin C), tocopherols (vitamin E), phylloquinone (vitamin K), and beta-carotene (vitamin A precursor). Although microgreens are more shown to be more nutritious than sprouts, sprouts remain a good alternative as they contain a high amount of fiber, protein, nutrients, and enzymes.

Eating microgreens vs sprouts

When it comes to eating microgreens and sprouts, they are often used similarly. They can both be added to salads, sandwiches, and wraps. Some people even put them in smoothies or juice them along with other vegetables and fruit.

Importantly, cooking book microgreens and sprouts can destroy a lot of their health benefits, and there is some risk involved in eating sprouts. The moist environment sprouts require to grow can also encourage the growth of food-borne pathogens like Ecolia, salmonella, listeria, and staphylococcus. This is the reason it is important to be diligent in rinsing your sprouts one to two times a day when growing them. While rare, it is something that should be noted so that you can make sure you are taking the precautions necessary to grow healthy, edible sprouts.

If you want to add a ton of nutritional value to your meals, try adding microgreens or sprouts! As this article discusses, they are both easy to grow at home and can significantly add to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Not only are they dense with nutrients, but they are delicious and add a fresh, vibrant flavor to sandwiches, salads, shakes, and many other dishes. Try microgreens today!

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