Let’s face it: most of us had a parent who would command us to eat our vegetables. I recall my mom telling me “eat your spinach, it’s good for you” fairly frequently. And, I’m sure my childhood wasn’t that different from most peoples’ at least when it comes to the regular parental vegetable interventions. Something tells me that few parents, if any, ever uttered the words “eat your red cabbage microgreens.” But, maybe that’s something today’s parents could try out. I can almost hear the parental refrains around the globe. Okay, maybe not, but it might be a good idea.
Currently, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. New research in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry shows that microgreens grown from red cabbage may reduce cardiovascular disease risk. The researchers assessed the effects of red cabbage microgreens on lipids and inflammatory markers known as cytokines that are involved in heart disease on animals eating an obesity-inducing diet. Not only did the red cabbage microgreens lower lipids and cytokines, they also blocked weight gain resulting from poor diet. The results were so impressive that the researchers concluded that a diet that is supplemented with red cabbage microgreens “may protect against cardiovascular disease…”
Microgreens are miniature seedlings of herbs and vegetables that can be grown in a week or two instead of the typical months needed for the full-size plants. Another study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that microgreen leaves can contain up to 40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts. This increase in nutrients may explain why the red cabbage microgreens were so effective at improving the risk of heart disease.
Red cabbage microgreens have all the beneficial nutrients of full-size cabbages, but magnified many times over. You’ll also get all of the hormone-balancing and anti-cancer benefits of the unique compounds known as glucosinolates that are found in cabbages.
The latter study examined the nutritional status of 25 kinds of microgreens and found that among those assessed, red cabbage, cilantro, garnet amaranth, and green daikon radish had the highest concentrations of nutrients like vitamins C and E, as well as carotenoids like beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. All of the caroteinoids have been linked to improved eye health as well as the cardiovascular benefits.
While the above four types showed the highest nutritional value, there are many other foods that can be grown and eaten as microgreens, including: basil, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and lettuce, to name a few.
The other amazing thing about microgreens is their ability to be grown at home, even in a small space, with minimal effort. Once you experience the many potential health benefits of ramping up the nutrients in your diet with microgreens, growing them may become your favorite year-round pastime. And, regardless whether you’re growing your own microgreens, your heart will thank you for enjoying them as part of your daily diet.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the president of PureFood BC and one of the company's food and health industry consultants, as well as an international best-selling and 20-time published book author.