Did you know that microgreens like red cabbage, cilantro and radishes have up to 40 times more vital nutrients than mature plants?

All the nutrients that microgreens need to grow are there because they are harvested right after germination, according to researcher Qin Wang, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Microgreens are:

  • Usually about 1 to 3 inches long and are very delicate
  • Highly concentrated with nutrients like most spices and herbs
  • Available in a variety of colors and provide a variety of flavors like sweet and spicy

In the past, commercially-grown microgreens were only available to chefs who use them as flavor accents and garnishes for soups, salads and sandwiches. They started appearing on chefs’ menus as early as the 1980s in San Francisco, California.

“It’s really kind of an artistic thing currently, but it’s nice to know that not only do microgreens look pretty and have strong flavor, but they also have an incredible punch of nutrition,” said researcher Gene Lester, Ph.D, of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Today, microgreens are available at most farmers markets and upscale grocery stores. Look for the most intensely colored ones because they are the most nutritious. And like any raw vegetable, they need to be washed carefully before eating, but cooking them isn’t recommended due to their high water content.

A sunny windowsill can be a great place to grow your own microgreens, especially during the winter months. You can purchase a microgreen window box growing kit, which can be a great project for children to partake in, too.

“They are little, and kids like things that are kid’s size,” said Roberta Duyff, registered dietitian and author of the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. “They can put it on their own salad or some cheese or hummus to make it look pretty.”


“Tiny Microgreens Packed With Nutrients,” Jennifer Warner, webmd.com, Aug. 31, 2012.

“Specialty Greens Pack a Nutritional Punch,” USDA, ars.usda.gov, Feb. 6, 2014.

“10 Smart Gift Ideas for the Healthiest Cook on Your List,” Meredith Melnick, huffintonpost.com, Dec. 12, 2014.