Microgreens and mature vegetables may both be effective for weight control, while the immature plants are also richer in some nutrients, research suggests.
Microgreens – older than vegetable sprouts but younger than baby greens – have been touted by some as a superfood, and scientists are aiming to find out if they deserve this reputation, and how they compare with their fully grown veg form.
While studies show microgreens are richer in substances that may offer protection from cancer, tests in mice suggest both microgreens and mature vegetables can limit weight gain.
The findings were presented at the American Chemical Society Fall 2023 meeting.
Thomas Wang, the project’s principal investigator, said the scientific literature suggests cruciferous vegetables like kale and broccoli are good for you but not a lot was known about microgreens.
The young vegetables are typically harvested within a couple of weeks after they start growing, and can easily be grown in a container on a windowsill.
Researchers studied the impact of vegetables on mice, and found consuming both young and fully grown cabbage and kale limited weight gain in mice fed a high-fat diet.
Mr Wang thinks the effects may in part be related to the vegetables’ impact on the animals’ microbiome, or gut bacteria.
Further research is needed to see if humans would experience these same benefits.
Scientists also found the nutrient content of the vegetables changed with age, and the microgreen was significantly richer in substances such as glucosinolates – nitrogen – and sulphur-containing compounds that may offer protection from cancer.
The researchers will continue to study the impact of other cruciferous plants on health, and say the findings could help guide diners who dislike some of these foods but are seeking alternatives that taste better.
“For instance, for people who don’t like broccoli, can we find some other vegetable they like better that has similar health effects?” Mr Wang said.
(Australian Associated Press)