When most people think of broccoli, they picture the familiar large green heads that you’ll often find in grocery stores or at your local farmer’s market. However, there’s an entire plant you might not be aware of, and that’s the broccoli microgreens. What are they? Are they any different from regular broccoli? What are their health benefits? And how can you use them? Let’s take a look!
What Are Broccoli Microgreens?
Microgreens are small shoots that grow from seeds and are harvested about 10 days after germination. Broccoli microgreens are the earliest stage of growth in which the broccoli plant begins to produce leaves, and the first pair of real leaves have emerged. That can happen between 7-and 10 days.
Broccoli belongs to the Brassicaceae family of plants, the same as arugula, radish, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Microgreens from this family of plants are best known for their anti-cancer benefits due to their high levels of cancer-fighting nutrients like glucosinolates and sulforaphane.
They are also a wonderful source of fiber which is beneficial for a healthy digestive system.
If you’re looking to add more nutrients to your diet, broccoli microgreens might be the perfect option.
However, these little greens should not be confused with broccoli sprouts. These are broccoli seeds that have been soaked in water to germinate. Unlike microgreens, and although rare, sprouts may carry bacteria and increase your risk of food-borne diseases. That’s why microgreens can be a great option. In addition, microgreens are cost-effective, can be produced quickly, and can be grown throughout the year.
Broccoli Microgreens Nutrition
Considering their tiny size, these super-small plants pack more nutrition than their full-grown counterparts and are some of the most nutritionally dense plants to consume. In fact, broccoli microgreens contain up to 40 times the nutrients in mature broccoli. 100 grams of broccoli microgreens can offer about
- Protein: 2300 mg
- Fiber: 410 mg
- Potassium: 326 mg, or 7 percent of your daily requirement
- Calcium: 88 mg, or 11 percent of your daily requirement
- Phosphorous: 69mg
- Sodium: 53 mg, or 3.5 percent of your daily requirement
- Magnesium: 51 mg, or 16 percent of your daily requirements
- Iron: 0.67 mg, 8.6 percent of your daily requirements
- Manganese: 0.37 mg, or 16 percent of your daily requirement
- Zinc: 0.37 mg, or 2.5 percent of your daily requirement
- Vitamin A: 300 mcg, or 30 percent of your daily requirement
- Vitamin C: 51.0 mg, or 85 percent of your daily requirement
- Vitamin E: 24.1 mg, or 241 percent of your daily requirement
- Nitrites: 267 mg
Broccoli microgreens are also rich in nitrates and various bioactive antioxidant compounds like carotenoids (Lutein and zeaxanthin), polyphenols, anthocyanins, and, as mentioned earlier, sulforaphane.
7 Surprising Benefits of Eating Broccoli Microgreens
1. Broccoli microgreens can ease digestion
High fiber content in broccoli microgreens aids digestion by promoting regularity and preventing constipation. Their high amounts of insoluble fiber help clear out the digestive tract by sweeping through it and collecting unwanted materials such as toxins and undigested food material.
In addition, studies show that broccoli microgreens boost gastric juices and bile production, making digestion easier. However, this benefit is enhanced when you eat both broccoli microgreens and regular broccoli together.
Broccoli microgreens can also prevent stomach ulcers and protect against infections such as E. coli, salmonella, and shigella.
2. Eating broccoli microgreens can enhance your mood
Research suggests that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables like broccoli microgreens can help improve overall mood, thanks to their high levels of vitamin C and folic acid. A 2013 study from Harvard University found that adults who ate more than five servings of fruits and vegetables per day reported feeling less sadness, stress, anxiety, and depression than those who had lower intakes. In particular, a diet high in vitamin C may have contributed to lower anxiety symptoms.
In addition, broccoli microgreens are rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps boost serotonin levels. Serotonin is known as the feel-good chemical because it produces feelings of contentment and well-being. It can also promote visual cognition, learning, memory skills, and aggression control.
So, tossing broccoli micro greens on your salad can give it an extra kick of flavor and texture and put you in a better mood. Or, if you find yourself feeling grumpy after a rough day, grab a bunch of micros and start snacking away. You’ll feel better with every bite.
3. They can lower your risk of heart disease
Like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli microgreens are rich in sulforaphane, a sulfur-rich compound with powerful health benefits, including promoting cardiovascular health and fighting heart disease.
Sulforaphane contains antioxidant properties that help fight inflammation and cancel out free radicals that may cause oxidative stress. Both inflammation and oxidation are risk factors for heart disease.
In addition, broccoli microgreens are rich in nitrates, which are broken down to release nitric oxide. Nitric oxide plays an important role in dilating and relaxing blood vessels, allowing for a more effective blood flow throughout the body.
This helps regulate blood pressure, thus promoting cardiovascular health. Also, nitric oxide prevents plaque formation within the vessels and blood clots that may trigger heart attacks and strokes.
4. They can boost your immune system
Because broccoli is a rich source of glucoraphanin, a compound with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, consuming broccoli microgreens can help boost your immune system.
The microgreens are also rich in vitamin A, C, and E, all of which are powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals and prevent disease.
Vitamin C, for instance, is known to boost the immune system by fighting off bacteria and viruses, especially during the cold seasons. So, fight off colds and flu by eating broccoli microgreens every day! If you’re not getting enough vitamin C in your diet, or if you want to kick your immune system into high gear, broccoli microgreens are a great way to do it.
In addition, broccoli microgreens provide a good amount of folic acid, which has also been shown to boost the immune system besides maintaining normal blood.
5. Fights fatigue
Broccoli microgreens are a natural energy booster. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Iron deficiency can cause fatigue and lead to anemia, which can be prevented by consuming broccoli microgreens regularly. They also contain high levels of chlorophyll, which helps cleanse your body from toxins and speeds up your metabolism. This can increase your energy levels.
Moreover, broccoli microgreens contain twice as much protein as most cooked leafy greens. This nutrient is especially beneficial for those who work out frequently and need more protein in their diet. Protein gives us energy, makes us feel satiated, builds muscle, and aids in weight loss. It also helps slow down digestion to keep you feeling full longer, thus keeping your energy levels steady. So if you’re not eating broccoli microgreens yet, start today!
6. Improves eyesight
While you probably wouldn’t eat microgreens to improve your eyesight, they’re loaded with carotenoids, including zeaxanthin and lutein, that help keep your eyes healthy.
Zeaxanthin and lutein are two powerful antioxidants that work synergistically to maintain eye health.
Studies show that lutein is particularly helpful for maintaining healthy eyes, especially in regard to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD causes vision loss by damaging parts of the retina; lutein can reduce damage from AMD by helping protect against oxidative stress and inflammation.
On the other hand, a study published in Experimental Eye Research revealed that a diet rich in zeaxanthin may reduce cataract formation and further age-related macular degeneration (AMD) related complications. In addition to eye health, it is thought that zeaxanthin can help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease as well.
7. They can fight cancer
In addition to being an abundant source of vitamin C, broccoli microgreens contain glucosinolates. When eaten, glucosinolates break down into several potent compounds, most notably sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane has been shown to fight cancer by increasing cell death in cancer cells and slowing down tumor growth. In test tubes, sulforaphane has been found to slow or even reverse the damage done by a variety of cancer-causing agents.
So consuming broccoli microgreens regularly can help you fight against common cancers affecting most people today.
How to Eat Broccoli Microgreens
Toss them in salads
Toss broccoli microgreens into your salad for an extra nutritional boost. You can also try mixing them with arugula, kale, and spinach. Arugula is especially good since it compliments their slightly spicy flavor.
Sprinkle them on sandwiches
Are you tired of your usual lunchtime sandwich fillings? Try sprinkling some broccoli micro greens on top of your favorite bread. The nutty, slightly bitter flavor will bring a new dimension to an old staple, while also bringing added fiber and nutrients.
Blend in a smoothie
Though broccoli microgreens are high in nutrition, they also have a strong taste and smell. That’s why they’re great in smoothies! By blending your broccoli microgreen powder with other healthy ingredients, you can mask any off-tastes while still getting all of their incredible health benefits.
The great thing about broccoli microgreens is that they can be used in a variety of ways. Try tossing them into your next batch of pesto. This classic green sauce tastes just as good with microgreens as it does with basil, making it a perfect match for many dishes, including pasta and pizza.
Add to soups
Need a healthy and easy way to spice up your soup? Add broccoli microgreens for some fresh flavor. Just sprinkle on top, let them sit for a few minutes, and serve! (You may want to wait until after blending if you’re making something like broccoli-based soup.)
How To Grow Broccoli Microgreens At Home
Usually, you can get your broccoli microgreens from a grocery store near you, but these tend to be expensive and may not always be fresh. So why not have an accessible and cheap source of fresh microgreens all year round?
Growing broccoli microgreens at home is pretty easy, and once you start growing them, you’ll never look back. Check out these easy steps to grow your own broccoli microgreens at home!
- High-quality broccoli seeds
- A container or a planting tray – should be shallow with drainage holes to seep out extra water.
- Two extra trays without draining holes
- Potting mixture or soil
- A place with direct sunlight or a lighting source- If you choose to grow your microgreens indoors, you’ll have to install LED lights or grow lights
Prepare the soil
Prepare a mixture of peat moss and organic compost in a medium-sized pot or planter tray with drainage holes. You can buy pre-mixed, organic soil blends or make your own by mixing several parts compost, two parts peat moss, and one part sand or perlite.
Fill your pot or tray with the soil to about an inch of the upper rim, then place it on a tray without draining holes to help collect the seeping water from the top.
You’ll want around 100 broccoli seeds for every square foot of soil you plan on growing your microgreens. Spread the seeds to cover the soil evenly, then tap gently.
Ensuring all the soil is covered will allow you to have dense produce. Moreover, microgreens are harvested very young, so they don’t need extra space to grow. Cover the seeds with a light dusting of the soil mixture and water them.
Place the remaining tray on top to act as a lead. Leave your seeds covered for 2-3 days. The darkness and moisture will allow the seeds to germinate.
Remove the lid once you see small leaves shooting out of the soil. You’ll notice a white fiber coming out of the soil, don’t mistake it for mold; it’s root hair.
Place your tray in the sunlight
Sunlight is required for plant growth and helps with many essential tasks, such as producing chlorophyll and using it as food. Most plants require at least six hours of sunlight per day.
Keep your tray near a window where it will receive at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, or place it on a porch that gets lots of sun. Make sure to rotate your tray regularly so that all areas get equal sunlight exposure.
Also, don’t expose your broccoli microgreens directly to any heat sources like heaters or radiators – these will damage its tender leaves and cause it to die prematurely.
Water your trays
You want to keep a good moisture level in your soil, so water your tray early in the morning or in the evening. Ideally, it should be every day but don’t overdo it.
After 7-10 days, most microgreens will be ready for harvesting. Some may, however, take 10-14 days, depending on the environment.
The microgreens are considered ready when they are within 2-3 inches tall, but once you see the true leaves appearing, it’s a sign that they need harvesting. Stop watering about 12 hours before harvest time.
When harvesting, cut the microgreens just above the soil level. Gently rinse them in running water and let them drain on a rack. Store them in an air-tight container in your fridge for when you need them.
Broccoli microgreens, those tiny leaves that grow from broccoli seeds and resemble mustard greens, are the new superfood.
Not only do they taste delicious, but they are also super healthy and packed with more nutrients than their more mature counterparts.
If you aren’t eating broccoli microgreens regularly, you should definitely start adding them to your salads and meals ASAP!
And if you have no idea what to do with them, the tips above will show you how to add them to the diet.
Other Related Articles
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- Turnip Greens
- 10 Best Green Vegetables
- Best Vegetables To Grow In The Winter
- Best Vegetables To Grow In The Summer
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