For anyone looking to start eating healthy, both microgreens and sprouts will give you the nutritional punch you need.
But what exactly is the difference? Which ones should you consume? Which one suits you better? Microgreens vs sprouts, are they the same, is one of the most common questions asked amongst healthy eaters and today we will tell you everything there is to know about these two superfoods.
You must have come across both microgreens and sprouts in either cooking shows or the supermarket. They may look similar at first but the differences start to show once they are carefully observed.
Sprouts are newly germinated seeds. They exhibit their first tiny leaves known as cotyledons but unlike microgreens, they are harvested before they develop mature leaves. They grow in dark conditions without soil and hence, the seeds rely on water, air and the nutrients from the seed for their growth. They’re grown more like a fungus than plants.
Microgreens on the other hand are an intermediate between grown greens and baby greens. Microgreens take a lot more time (8 to 14 days) to grow because the goal is to produce a young plant and harvest once their “true leaves” appear. They grow in soil, they are watered and grown under apt lighting conditions. Microgreens are very helpful to those who want to get healthier and fitter.
Further in this article, we shall learn which of the two is healthier, how to grow them, what they taste like and also compare their costs, why you should look to include them in your diet? Let’s try and answer your queries, now shall we?
Which Is Healthier: Microgreens or Sprouts?
If you are growing microgreens in your basement or backyard then you might have to wait at least 2 weeks before you can consume them. However, you can find some of the healthiest microgreens at your nearest grocery stores or farmer’s markets.
One of the reasons why microgreens are soaring in popularity is their high nutritional density, which eventually leads to fantastic health benefits without any major changes to your daily lifestyle. Microgreens like red cabbage and daikon are rich in Vitamin C and E, red cabbage microgreens also help in reducing cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. Cilantro microgreens are also a healthy variety to try out as they are high in carotene levels.
Sprouts on the other hand are packed with protein and enzymes. Depending on the sprouts we eat, they can have nutrients like niacin, Vitamin C and B, to name a few. However, most of the nutrients are stored in the seed as opposed to the microgreens, where the entire plant is nutritious. That said, microgreens have a superior nutritional value and fiber as compared to sprouts or even their matured counterparts. The nutritional value of microgreens and sprouts differ from species to species.
How to Grow? (Microgreens vs Sprouts)
Microgreens – There are a few things that one must keep in mind while growing your microgreens.
- Find a clear location to grow your microgreens make sure the surface is protected.
- Prepare the growing trays (a container that is disinfected will also meet the requirements). Fill the trays with an inch of moist soil and level the surface.
- Make sure that the seeds are soaked overnight before you proceed. Proceed to sow your seeds make sure you place them evenly.
- Gently press the seeds into the soil, this helps the seeds absorb moisture and enhances their growth
- Cover the growing trays and wait. You can cover the trays with plastic wrap to encourage their growth.
- Water your seeds at least once a day. It’s very important to keep your seeds moist but also be careful to not flood them.
- After 1-2 weeks you will see that the microgreens have gained a few inches in height. You can proceed with the harvest. Use scissors to cut the microgreens from just above the levelled soil. Rinse the produce in clean drinking water before you use it.
Sprouts: Growing sprouts at home is very easy and will take up just a few minutes of your time. Here’s a step by step guide on how to grow them at home.
- Soak a few sprouting seeds for at least 8 hours in freshwater. Make sure you wash the seeds thoroughly before you proceed.
- Drain the water from the container and rinse the sprouts.
- Repeat the process for 3-4 days until they are ready for consumption.
Are Microgreens Safer Than Sprouts?
According to NHS UK – England’s biggest health website – due to the growing conditions sprouts carry the risk of multiple foodborne diseases. Poor ventilation, sunlight and no soil provides bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria, an opportunity to take hold. Food and Drug Administration has issued guidance and recommendations for the producers because of the risk it carries. Sprouts also lose a lot of their nutrients and crunch if you cook them but it also kills the bacteria.
Since we consume only the shoot of the microgreens, the risk is cut to a half. However, growing them in the right conditions is crucial for their growth
The growing environment of microgreens is safer than that of sprouts due to good sunlight and ventilation hence the potential for bacterial growth is much less in microgreens.
Microgreens vs. Sprouts – Which Tastes Better?
We have already established that microgreens are safer and have more nutritional value than sprouts. But surely all of you might be wondering ‘which one tastes better?’ Well, we’re here with some insights that may help you with your judgment.
Microgreens come with a lot of different flavors some of which include – spicy/peppery, sweet, nutty and mild. The ‘baby greens’ are an excellent choice for seasoning, garnishing or even for salads or sandwiches and toppings on your pizza.
Sprouts are a great choice if you’re looking for that crunch. Like microgreens, sprouts also offer various flavors like a sweet aftertaste of green pea sprouts, and a slightly bitter and crunchy taste of Brussels sprouts to name a few.
Are Microgreens Cheaper than Sprouts?
There isn’t much financial investment to make while growing sprouts at home. They don’t need any special equipment. You can buy sprouting seeds at any grocery store, or even online, without much effort.
You must have already realized by now that the production cost related to microgreens far surpasses the sprouts. The reason is that microgreens are grown in limited quantities as opposed to veggie greens. Microgreens are grown indoors and are gown with the help of special equipment like special trays, special lighting set up, and consistent watch and care.
How Long Do Microgreens and Sprouts Last?
Microgreens: Microgreens usually last at least 5-7 days if they are refrigerated at the right temperature. The shelf life of microgreens will vary depending on a variety of things such as climate, growing method and packaging.
Sprouts: If they are stored, sprouts can keep fresh for up to 6 weeks under proper refrigeration. But it is better to consume them if they’re fresh. Refrigerating wet sprouts is very harmful as it may cause cross-contamination.
Health Benefits of Microgreens and Sprouts
Research shows that they contain a wide variety of polyphenols and other antioxidants than their mature counterparts. One study measured vitamin and antioxidant concentrations in 25 commercially available microgreens. These levels were then compared to levels recorded in the USDA National Nutrient Database for mature leaves; although antioxidant and vitamin levels varied, microgreens turned out to be 40X nutritious than their mature counterparts.
- They help prevent various diseases
- Leaning towards microgreens will help you with weight management
- They have antioxidants that help to eliminate free radicals
We all know that sprouts are healthy. Sprouts are used in many forms. Some types of sprouts can be used in a salad that goes well with beverages and some types of sprouts can be used as a weight-loss food that helps fulfil weight-loss commitments. Sprouts can also be an integral part of a weight loss diet plan. Besides, sprouts also add immense nutritional value to ones’ daily diet plan.
- They carry minerals like phosphorus and magnesium.
- They are low on fat helps in weight loss.
- They have vitamins A, B complex and C.
Healthiest Microgreens and Sprouts
We have already discussed the health benefits of microgreens and sprouts. Let us now see some of the healthiest microgreens and sprouts that are available in the market.
- Pea shoots – These microgreens grow very quickly and are packed with nutrients like Vitamin A and C along with calcium and protein. It is also rich in Iron.
- Sunflower shoots – Sunflower shots are mostly eaten raw in sandwiches and salads. They contain amino acids and other important nutrients like Calcium, Iron and Zinc. They help in digestion and also boost immunity.
- Broccoli – They are one of the cheapest microgreens in the market. However, they are very rich in important nutrients like Vitamin A, B, C and K. It also has a large amount of iron and magnesium.
- Alfalfa – Alfalfa sprouts are extremely low on calories and are rich in Vitamin K and potassium. They have high fiber content and are extremely nutritious.
- Radish sprouts – They are rich in proteins, Calcium, phosphorus and potassium. They also contain Vitamins A, B, C, E and K. Radish sprouts are rich in amino acids and chlorophyll.
- Mung Bean – Mung beans are highly nutritious and full of antioxidants. They help in weight loss and help in lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. They are rich in potassium, sodium, iron, magnesium and Vitamin C.
We have discussed anything and everything about microgreens and sprouts in this article by comparing them head-to-head on various parameters like taste, how to grow, nutrients, health benefits, etc.
Hopefully, this article has helped you answer a lot of questions that you had about microgreens and sprouts. Although both, microgreens and sprouts are extremely healthy, a few differences do exist. We hope that this information helps you choose wisely what suits you better, microgreens or sprouts!