One of the best foods for gut health is microgreens. The health benefits of microgreens are vast, and you should definitely include them in your diet!
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are just very young vegetables. They’re tiny vegetable seedlings that only grow for about 7-21 days before you harvest them.
They are colorful and have a dense concentration of nutrients. Microgreens are also easier to digest than their full-grown counterparts.
Types of Microgreens
The flavor of microgreens varies by type of vegetable. The flavor is a bit more concentrated than the full-grown version.
The families of microgreens are the same as the full-grown vegetables. My favorite family of microgreens is the Brassicaceae family, aka the cruciferous vegetables.
Amaranthaceae family: Amaranth, quinoa, swiss chard, beet, and spinach
Amaryllidaceae family: Garlic and onion
Apiaceae family: Celery, carrot, and dill
Asteraceae family: Lettuce, endive, chicory and radicchio
Brassicaceae family: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, radish, and arugula
Cucurbitaceae family: Melon, cucumber, and squash
The Health Benefits of Microgreens
Microgreens can contain over 100 times the amount of health-promoting phytochemicals compared to mature vegetables. They’re rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and phytochemicals. So microgreens can be beneficial in preventing cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and heart disease.
Cancer: Fruits and vegetables are naturally rich in polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. Polyphenols in foods can lower the risk of various types of cancer, especially colon cancer. Of course, microgreens are the most beneficial if consumed with an overall healthy diet.
Diabetes: Certain types of stress can prevent your body from adequately metabolizing sugars. The antioxidants found in microgreens may reduce stress hormones helping to regulate cellular sugar uptake.
Alzheimer’s: Antioxidant polyphenol-rich foods have been shown to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Heart Disease: Regular consumption of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables can improve lipids and lower blood pressure. This means an overall reduction in cardiovascular risk factors.
The Gut Health Benefits of Microgreens
Microgreens naturally contain health-promoting compounds, but once the microgreens you eat reach your gut microbiome, things get even healthier!
Microbes in the gut microbiome utilize many enzymes to convert the compounds in the foods you eat into more bioavailable antioxidants and other health-promoting compounds.
The microbes can create even more health-promoting compounds when you provide your gut microbiome with excellent starting materials like fruits, cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables, and whole grains.
For instance, microorganisms in a healthy gut microbiome can utilize an enzyme called myrosinase to transform compounds in microgreens into bioavailable phytonutrients.
One way they do this is by using myrosinase to convert the glucoraphanin in microgreens into the potent antioxidant sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane is a phenolic phytochemical with a lot of antioxidant properties. Once it’s bioavailable through microbial action in the gut, sulforaphane can help prevent cancer, encourage fat loss, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce inflammation.
The Best Microgreen for Gut Health
Here is a simple list of my favorite microgreens to get started. If you’re trying microgreens for the first time, I suggest starting with these:
- kale microgreens
- basil microgreens
- beet microgreens
- radish microgreens
- carrot microgreens
- broccoli microgreens