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A Study on the Phytonutrients of Microgreens

Have you ever wondered why microgreens are so nutritious?

Scientists are constantly trying to study the effects food have on our bodies. One of the central fields of study centers around control of oxidative stress with the help of natural antioxidants. Microgreens is one of the leafy green vegetables that fall into the category of study.

A group of scientists from the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the university level institute, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher learning, in Anantapur, India. This study can be viewed in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Research 2 (2020) 10046. The study was conducted using 10 culinary microgreens.

Selected Candidates for the Study

The microgreens were:

  • Spinach, Amaranthaceae Family
  • Onion, Amaryllidaceae Family
  • Carrot, Apiaceae Family
  • Fennel, Apiaceae Family
  • Sunflower, Asteraceae Family
  • Mustard, Brassicaceae Family
  • Radish, Brassicaceae Family
  • Fenugreek, Fabaceae Family
  • French Basil, Lamiaceae Family, and
  • Roselle, Amaryllidaceae Family.

Many studies have been conducted using members of the Brassicaceae family. The focus of this study was to go after several of the less-studied microgreens such as vegetable, leguminous, olegineous and aromatic species from other families. They wanted to assay their bio-active phytochemicals and antioxidant capacities using criteria.

To have something to compare the results to, Spinach was also grown under similar conditions to the mature stage, processed and evaluated for phytochemicals and antioxidant capacities.

Phytochemical Criteria

To quantitatively evaluate the overall phytochemical quality, the scientists developed an index based off of the concentrations Ascorbic Acid, α-tocopherol (type of vitamin E), β-carotene (the body uses this to make vitamin A), Lutein, Chlorophyll, Total Phenolics, and Total Flavonoids. This index was called the Overall-Phytochemical Composite Index or OPCI for short.

Antioxidant Criteria

Likewise, to test the antioxidant activity of the microgreens they adapted and modified an index used by another researcher studying the antioxidant potency of commonly consumed polyphenol-rich beverages in the United States. This index is called the Antioxidant Potential Composite Index or APCI for short. The basis for the index is based on DPPH (2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl), FRAP (Ferric reducing antioxidant power), TEAC (Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity) and ILAP (Inhibition of linoleic acid peroxidation) activities.

Bottom Line

Sorry for all the technical stuff, but the bottom line is that all of the microgreens studied have higher or comparable Phytochemical or Anti-oxidant capacities than mature Spinach leaves have. Roselle had the highest OPCI and APCI score of the tested microgreens.

From Best to Worst OPCI:

From Best to Worst APCI:

  • Roselle
  • Fennel
  • Carrot
  • Sunflower
  • French Basil
  • Radish
  • Fenugreek
  • Mustard
  • Spinach
  • Onion
  • Roselle
  • Fennel
  • French Basil
  • Sunflower
  • Radish
  • Carrot
  • Fenugreek
  • Mustard
  • Spinach
  • Onion

Until next time,Happy Growing!

Uncle Ralph

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