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Understanding the difference between microgreens, baby greens, and adult greens

What is the difference between spouts, microgreens, baby greens, and adult greens? With all the leafy green terms out there, it can be confusing to keep them all straight. There is one key factor involved in the naming – time. 

Sprouts, microgreens, and baby greens (and their adult counterparts) are all different stages of a plant’s life cycle. The point at which they are harvested is what determines their name. 

Seeds and Sprouts
It all starts with a seed. A seed is similar to a battery in that it stores energy (in the form of starch) until it is needed. When the seed takes up lots of water, the seed coat bursts and triggers the process of germination. The first organ to pop out of the seed is the root, followed by a shoot tip that will eventually grow the first set of leaves.

At this stage of germination, starch is being broken down as an energy source for the developing seedling, leading to a higher concentration of digestible nutrients. Bonus – germination also breaks down another compound that normally inhibits the absorption of vitamins and minerals within the body called phytate. Cue sprouts!

By eating sprouts, you are taking advantage of this natural process. While the ratio of nutrient density varies by variety, sprouts generally have higher levels of folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin K than their adult counterparts. According to Emily Ho, a nutrition professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, “you can eat 50 cups of broccoli or a single cup of broccoli sprouts for similar nutrition and benefit”.

So, there has to be a downside, right? Unfortunately, yes. The warm and wet environment required to grow a large number of sprouts also leads to the growth of something else that we do not want on our food – bacteria (the bad kind). For that reason, you should always be careful when consuming raw sprouts and follow the proper precautions. 

Read the entire article at Gardyn 

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