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Microgreens: Assessment of Nutrient Concentrations


Abstract and Figures

Microgreens (seedlings of green vegetables and herbs) are gaining in popularity as a new culinary ingredient, providing intense flavors, vivid colors, and crisp texture when added to salads and other food preparations. Although microgreens would inherently be regarded as a healthy addition to the diet, no information is available on their nutritional content. The present study determined the concentrations of essential vitamins or provitamins A, C, E, and K1 in 25 commercially available microgreens. Results showed that different microgreens provide widely varying amounts of the four vitamins, but regardless they generally have significantly higher concentrations of these phytonutrients in comparison with mature leaves from the same plant species. These phytonutrient data provide the first scientific basis for evaluating nutritional benefits of microgreens and, when included in the USDA food composition database, can be used by health agencies and consumers to make educated choices about inclusion of microgreens as part of a healthy diet.
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Assessment of Vitamin and Carotenoid Concentrations of Emerging
Food Products: Edible Microgreens
Zhenlei Xiao,
Gene E. Lester,*
Yaguang Luo,
and Qin Wang*
Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, United States
Food Quality Laboratory, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture,
10300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, Maryland 20705, United States
ABSTRACT: Microgreens (seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs) have gained popularity as a new culinary trend over the
past few years. Although small in size, microgreens can provide surprisingly intense avors, vivid colors, and crisp textures and
can be served as an edible garnish or a new salad ingredient. However, no scientic data are currently available on the nutritional
content of microgreens. The present study was conducted to determine the concentrations of ascorbic acid, carotenoids,
phylloquinone, and tocopherols in 25 commercially available microgreens. Results showed that dierent microgreens provided
extremely varying amounts of vitamins and carotenoids. Total ascorbic acid contents ranged from 20.4 to147.0 mg per 100 g
fresh weight (FW), while β-carotene, lutein/zeaxanthin, and violaxanthin concentrations ranged from 0.6 to 12.1, 1.3 to 10.1, and
0.9 to 7.7 mg/100 g FW, respectively. Phylloquinone level varied from 0.6 to 4.1 μg/g FW; meanwhile, α-tocopherol and γ-
tocopherol ranged from 4.9 to 87.4 and 3.0 to 39.4 mg/100 g FW, respectively. Among the 25 microgreens assayed, red cabbage,
cilantro, garnet amaranth, and green daikon radish had the highest concentrations of ascorbic acids, carotenoids, phylloquinone,
and tocopherols, respectively. In comparison with nutritional concentrations in mature leaves (USDA National Nutrient
Database), the microgreen cotyledon leaves possessed higher nutritional densities. The phytonutrient data may provide a
scientic basis for evaluating nutritional values of microgreens and contribute to food composition database. These data also may
be used as a reference for health agenciesrecommendations and consumerschoices of fresh vegetables.
KEYWORDS: Microgreens, phytonutrients, ascorbic acid, carotenoids, phylloquinone, tocopherols, HPLC
Epidemiological studies have shown that fruit and vegetable
consumption is associated with reduction in the development
of chronic disease, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables provide an abundance of
human bioactive compounds,
such as ascorbic acid (vitamin
C), carotenoids (provitamin A compounds), phylloquinone
(vitamin K1), and tocopherols (vitamin E), which are known to
have protective benets against cancers and cardiovascular
The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010)
released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and
the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
specically recommends Americans to ll half of their plate
with fruits and vegetables because they possess benets for
human health.
Microgreens are an exotic genre of edible greens, appearing
in upscale markets and restaurants, that have gained popularity
as a new culinary trend over the past few years. Microgreens are
tender immature greens produced from the seeds of vegetables
and herbs, having two fully developed cotyledon leaves with or
without the emergence of a rudimentary pair of rst true leaves.
Microgreens are usually 2.57.6 cm (13 in.) in height,
harvested at 714 days after germination, depending on the
species, and sold with the stem and attached cotyledons (seed
leaves). Although small in size, microgreens can provide a large
array of intense avors, vivid colors and tender textures.
Therefore, microgreens can be served as a new ingredient in
salad, soups, and sandwiches, enhancing their color, texture,
and/or avor, and also can be used as edible garnish to brighten
up a wide variety of main dishes.
Although microgreens have been claimed as nutritionally
benecial, to the best of our knowledge, no scientic data are
available on the exact phytochemical content of microgreens.
Limited studies have shown that some young seedlings may
have much higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and other health-
giving phytonutrients than the mature leaves. In a recent study
from Lester et al.,
it was reported that the younger leaves of
baby spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) generally had higher levels
of phytonutrients: vitamins C, B9and K1, and the carotenoids
(lutein, violaxanthin, zeaxanthin and β-carotene) than the more
mature leaves. Oh et al.
also found that young lettuce
(Lactuca sativa) seedlings, 7 days after germination, had the
highest total phenolic concentration and antioxidant capacity in
comparison to the older leaves. Therefore, the object of this
study was to assess the vitamin and carotenoid concentrations
of the 25 commercially available varieties of microgreens. The
human bioactive compounds assayed include ascorbic acid
(total, free, and dehydro), carotenoids (β-carotene, violaxan-
thin, and lutein/zeaxanthin), phylloquinone, and tocopherols
(α- and γ-tocopherol).
Received: February 3, 2012
Revised: July 17, 2012
Accepted: July 18, 2012
Published: July 18, 2012
© 2012 American Chemical Society 7644 |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2012, 60, 76447651
Plant Materials. Twenty-ve varieties of microgreens were
purchased from Sun Grown Organics Distributors, Inc. (San
Diego, CA) from May through July 2011. They were produced
by the grower in an unheated greenhouse and under ambient
light except etiolated golden pea tendrils and popcorn shoots,
which were grown in the dark. All the microgreens were grown
in soil and fertilized in a proprietary manner except China rose
radish and green daikon radish microgreens, which were grown
hydroponically. Samples were harvested without roots, packed
in clamshell containers (113.4 g of each) and shipped overnight
in a cardboard box which was lled with frozen-ice packs. When
received, 3 g of fresh tissue was weighed for ascorbic acid
analysis. Remaining tissue was frozen in liquid nitrogen and
lyophilized for dry weight and other vitamin and carotenoid
determinations. It is worth mentioning that golden pea tendrils
and green pea tendrils are grown from the same seed source.
Golden pea tendrils were grown in dark and green pea tendrils
were grown under ambient light. Commercial names, scientic
names, and plant colors of the 25 commercially grown
microgreens assayed in this study are listed in Table 1.
Dry Weight Analysis. Dry matter was determined by
freeze-drying according to a previous procedure.
Portions (10
g) of fresh microgreens were weighed into plastic tubes, frozen
in liquid nitrogen, and lyophilized for 48 h (VirTis Freeze-
mobile 35 ES Sentry 2.0 freeze-dryer, SP Scientic Corp.,
Warminster, PA), followed by holding at room temperature in a
desiccator prior to weighing.
Nutrient Analysis. All chemicals and standards unless
otherwise stated were obtained through SigmaAldrich
Chemical Corp. (St. Louis, MO). Standards of lutein and
zeaxanthin were obtained from ChromaDex (Irvine, CA).
Ascorbic Acid. Total ascorbic acid (TAA) and free L-
ascorbic acid (FAA) were determined spectrophotometrically
according to the procedure previously reported by Hodges et
Fresh tissue (3 g) was weighed into a 50 mL centrifuge
tube, and 10 mL of ice-cold 5% (w/v) metaphosphoric acid was
added, followed by homogenization at the speed of 15 000 rpm
for 1 min in an icewater bath by use of a polytron
homogenizer (Brinkman Instruments, Westbury, NY). Homo-
genized tissue was centrifuged at 7000g(Beckman J2-MI,
Beckman Coulter, Inc., Irving, TX) for 20 min at 4 °C, and
supernatant was ltered through Whatman Grade No. 4 lter
paper (Millipore Corp., Bedford, MA). Filtrate was used for
FAA determination and TAA by converting dehydroascorbic
acid (DAA) to FAA with dithiothreitol. TAA and FAA were
determined spectrophotometrically (Genesys 20, Thermo
Scientic Inc., Logan, UT) at 525 nm. Concentrations of
TAA and FAA were calculated by use of an L-ascorbic acid
standard curve (all R20.99), and their dierence was equal to
the concentration of DAA.
Carotenoids and Tocopherols. Carotenoids and toco-
pherols were extracted under yellow light according to the
modied method described by Lester et al.
Briey, 0.05 g of
lyophilized sample was weighed into a 15 mL screw-cap glass
vial, and then 7.5 mL of 1% butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
in ethanol and 500 μL of internal standard (86.82 μMtrans-β-
apo-8 carotenal) were added, followed by ultrasonic homog-
enization for 15 s, by using a Fisher Scientic model 300 sonic
dismembrator (Pittsburgh, PA). The vials were capped under a
stream of N2and placed in a 70 °C dry bath for 15 min, after
which 180 μL of 80% KOH was added. After mixing and
ushing with ow N2, vials were capped again and placed in a
70 °C dry bath for 30 min. Vials were then removed and cooled
for 5 min on ice and then the contents were transferred into 15
mL centrifuge tubes (Fisher), after which 3.0 mL of deionized
water and 3.0 mL of hexane/toluene solution (10:8 v/v) were
added. The mixture was vortexed for 1 min and then
centrifuged at 1000g(Clay Adams Dynac II centrifuge, Block
Scientic, Inc., Bohemia, NY) for 5 min. The top organic layer
was collected into an 8 mL glass culture tube and immediately
placed into a nitrogen evaporator (Organomation Associates,
Inc., Berlin, MA) set at 30 °C and ushed with a stream of N2.
The bottom layer was extracted again with 3.0 mL of hexane/
toluene solution (10:8 v/v) for further partition. This
extraction was repeated at least four times until the top layer
Table 1. Twenty-ve Commercially Grown Microgreens
Assayed in the Nutrient Study
scientic name
name family genus and species plant color
arugula Brassicaceae Eruca sativa Mill. green
bulls blood beet Chenopodiaceae Beta vulgaris L. reddish-
celery Apiaceae Apium graveolens L. green
China rose
radish Brassicaceae Raphanus sativus L. purplish-
cilantro Apiaceae Coriandrum sativum L. green
garnet amaranth Amaranthaceae Amaranthus
hypochondriacus L. red
golden pea
Fabaceae Pisum sativum L. yellow
green basil Lamiaceae Ocimum basilicum L. green
green daikon
radish Brassicaceae Raphanus sativus L.var.
longipinnatus green
spinach Chenopodiaceae Spinacia oleracea L. red
mizuna Brassicaceae Brassica rapa L. ssp.
nipposinica green
opal basil Lamiaceae Ocimum basilicum L. greenish-
opal radish Brassicaceae Raphanus sativus L. greenish-
pea tendrils
Fabaceae Pisum sativum L. green
peppercress Brassicaceae Lepidium bonariense L. green
popcorn shoots Poaceae Zea mays L. yellow
nutrient purple
kohlrabi Brassicaceae Brassica oleracea L. var.
gongylodes purplish-
purple mustard Brassicaceae Brassica juncea (L.)
Czern. purplish-
red beet Chenopodiaceae Beta vulgaris L. reddish-
red cabbage Brassicaceae Brassica oleracea L. var.
capitata purplish-
red mustard Brassicaceae Brassica juncea (L.)
Czern. purplish-
red orach Chenopodiaceae Atriplex hortensis L. red
red sorrel Polygonaceae Rumex acetosa L. reddish-
sorrel Polygonaceae Rumex acetosa L. green
wasabi Brassicaceae Wasabia japonica
Matsum. green
Golden pea tendrils and pea tendrils are grown from the same seeds.
Golden pea tendrils are grown in dark and pea tendrils are grown
under light, therefore, the colors are dierent (yellow and green,
respectively). All the microgreens were grown organically except China
rose radish and green daikon radish microgreens, which were grown
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Article |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2012, 60, 764476517645
was colorless, and all the supernatants were combined into a
glass culture tube. After evaporation, the residue was
reconstituted in 500 μL of mobile phase acetonitrile/ethanol
(1:1 v/v), ltered into an HPLC amber vial through 0.22 μm
nylon lter (Millipore, Bedford, MA) with a glass syringe, and
20 μL was injected for HPLC analysis. Carotenoid and
tocopherol concentrations were simultaneously determined by
isocratic reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatogra-
phy (RP-HPLC), which were separated on a C18 column
(Adsorbosphere C18-UHS, 5 μm, 150 ×4.6 mm, Grace,
Deereld, IL) with a photo diode array detector (DAD)
(G1315C, Agilent, Santa Clara, CA) and isocratic mobile phase
acetonitrile/ethanol (1:1 v/v). The ow rate was 1.2 mL/min
and the running time was 20 min. Absorbance was measured at
290 and 450 nm simultaneously for tocopherols and
carotenoids, respectively. Quantication was based on a
standard curve for each compound.
Phylloquinone. Phylloquinone was extracted from 25
microgreens under dim light and determined by RP-HPLC,
as described by Booth et al.
Each sample (0.1 g of freeze-dried
tissue) was homogenized (Brinkman Instruments, Westbury,
NY) with 10 mL of H2O and 0.4 mL of 200 μg/mL
menaquinone (internal standard) at the speed of 15 000 rpm
for 1 min, after which 15 mL of 2-propanol/hexane (3:2 v/v)
was added. The sample was then vortexed for 1 min, and
centrifuged (Beckman J2-MI, Beckman Coulter, Inc., Irving,
TX) for 5 min at 1500g,21°C. The upper (hexane) layer was
transferred into a glass culture tube and dried under a stream of
N2. The residue was dissolved in 4 mL of hexane. The sample
extract was puried by loading 1 mL of redissolved extract onto
preconditioned silica gel columns (4 mL of 3.5% ethyl ether in
hexane, followed by 4 mL of 100% hexane), and then the
column was washed with 2 mL of hexane. Phylloquinone was
eluted with 8 mL of 3.5% ethyl ether in hexane, and the eluate
was evaporated on a water-jacketed heating block (Pierce
Reacti-Therm, Pierce Chemical Co., Rockford, IL) at 40 °C
under N2ow and then reconstituted in 2 mL of mobile phase
(99% methanol and 1% 0.05 M sodium acetate buer, pH =
3.0) and ltered through a 0.22 μm nylon syringe lter
(Millipore, Bedford, MA). Detection of phylloquinone was with
a photodiode array detector (DAD) (G1315C, Agilent, Santa
Clara, CA) on Agilent 1200 series HPLC system and
absorbance wavelength was 270 nm. The extract (20 μL) was
injected into HPLC and run through a C18 column (201TP, 5
μm, 150 ×4.6 mm, Grace, Deereld, IL) with an isocratic
mobile phase (described above) owing at the rate of 1 mL/
min. The phylloquinone content of the samples was quantied
according to the internal standard method based on peak areas.
Statistical Analysis. Dry weight analysis and all assays were
performed on three replicates. All phytonutrient analysis was
conducted through one extraction of each replicate from each
sample. All data are reported as the mean of three replicates ±
standard error. Statistical separation of phytonutrient values per
species is based on coecient of variability (CV); this
variability is in relation to the mean of the population from
mature leaf data. A combined population of microgreens for
each phytonutrient CV is listed in the tables.
Dry Weight. Dry weight percentage of the 25 commercially
available microgreens ranged from 4.6% to 10.2%, as shown in
Table 2. Among them, pea tendrils had the highest dry weight
percentage (10.2%) and red beet possessed the highest water
content (95.4%). The overall average dry weight percentage of
the 25 varieties of microgreens was 6.9% ±0.1%.
Phylloquinone. Vitamin K1is required for blood
coagulation and is most abundant in photosynthetic tissues of
dark-green vegetables, such as spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.),
kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala), and broccoli (Brassica
oleracea var. italica).
Among the 25 microgreens assayed,
there was considerable variation in phylloquinone concen-
tration, ranging from 0.6 to 4.1 μg/g freight weight (FW) as
shown in Table 2. Among them, the most concentrated in
phylloquinone was garnet amaranth (4.1 μg/g FW) (Figure 1),
followed by red sorrel (3.3 μg/g FW), green basil (3.2 μg/g
FW), pea tendrils (3.1 μg/g FW), and red cabbage (2.8 μg/g
FW) microgreens. In contrast, magenta spinach, golden pea
tendrils, red orach microgreens, and popcorn shoots had
vitamin K1concentration ranging from 0.6 to 0.9 μg/g FW.
Samples identied as rich in phylloquinone were generally
green (e.g., pea tendrils) or bright red in color (e.g., garnet
amaranth microgreens), while yellow-colored microgreens,
such as popcorn shoots and golden pea tendrils, had relatively
low concentration of vitamin K1, which is in agreement with a
previous report.
Surprisingly, magenta spinach, which has a
similar appearance to the leading vitamin K1microgreen source,
garnet amaranth (4.1 μg/g FW), had among the lowest vitamin
K1concentrations. Comparison of fully grown and cotyledon
leaves demonstrated that growth stage aected vitamin K1
concentration, and for some of the varieties, the eect was
obvious. For example, according to the USDA national nutrient
phylloquinone concentration in mature amaranth,
basil, and red cabbage were 1.14, 0.41, and 0.04 μg/g FW,
Table 2. Mean Dry Weight Percentage and Phylloquinone
Concentration in 25 Commercially Grown Microgreens
microgreen name dry weight (%) phylloquinone (μg/g FW)
arugula 5.5 ±0.0 1.6 ±0.1
bulls blood beet 6.2 ±0.1 2.0 ±0.1
celery 6.8 ±0.1 2.2 ±0.1
China rose radish 8.1 ±0.1 1.8 ±0.1
cilantro 8.3 ±0.1 2.5 ±0.1
garnet amaranth 9.3 ±0.1 4.1 ±0.0
golden pea tendrils 9.8 ±0.2 0.7 ±0.0
green basil 7.3 ±0.0 3.2 ±0.1
green daikon radish 7.8 ±0.1 1.9 ±0.1
magenta spinach 5.1 ±0.2 0.6 ±0.0
mizuna 5.3 ±0.0 2.0 ±0.0
opal basil 6.8 ±0.1 2.0 ±0.1
opal radish 7.8 ±0.1 2.2 ±0.2
pea tendrils 10.2 ±0.2 3.1 ±0.2
peppercress 7.3 ±0.1 2.4 ±0.2
popcorn shoots 7.0 ±0.1 0.9 ±0.0
purple kohlrabi 6.1 ±0.0 2.3 ±0.1
purple mustard 5.7 ±0.1 1.3 ±0.1
red beet 4.6 ±0.1 1.9 ±0.1
red cabbage 7.7 ±0.1 2.8 ±0.1
red mustard 5.6 ±0.1 1.9 ±0.1
red orach 6.2 ±0.2 0.7 ±0.0
red sorrel 7.0 ±0.1 3.3 ±0.0
sorrel 4.9 ±0.0 1.7 ±0.1
wasabi 5.6 ±0.0 1.9 ±0.1
coecient of variation 15%
Values are expressed as means ±standard error (n= 3).
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Article |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2012, 60, 764476517646
respectively, which were much lower than the values for their
corresponding microgreens (4.09, 3.20, and 2.77 μg/g FW,
respectively). Four of the 25 microgreen varieties assayed in
this study had comparable amount of phylloquinone to mature
leaf spinach, which is generally considered as an excellent
source of vitamin K1; and 18 out of 25 exhibited vitamin K1
densities equal to or higher than that of broccoli, the most
commonly consumed vegetable in the United States;
demonstrating that most of the 25 microgreens can serve as
good natural sources of vitamin K1.
Ascorbic Acid. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is an essential
nutrient for the human body, acting as an antioxidant. When
the plant is subject to physical or physiological stress
(harvesting injury, chilling, irradiation, etc.), the FAA can be
oxidized into DAA.
It was previously reported that the
utilization of DAA is equivalent to that of FAA, although the
metabolic turnover time is dierent.
In this study, TAA, FAA,
and DAA concentration were determined and are listed in
Table 3. The 25 microgreens exhibited TAA content ranging
from 20.4 to 147.0 mg/100 g FW. Among samples tested, red
cabbage and garnet amaranth microgreens had the highest TAA
contents, followed by China rose radish, opal basil, and opal
radish. The vitamin C concentration of red cabbage micro-
greens (147.0 mg/100 g FW) was 6-fold higher than previously
published data for mature red cabbage (24.4 mg/100 g FW)
and 2.6 times greater than that (57.0 mg/100 g FW) recorded
in the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard
Reference, Release 24,
and was determined to be 2.4 times
greater than the estimated average requirement (EAR) for
ascorbic acid. Garnet amaranth (131.6 mg/100 g FW) had
much higher ascorbic acid content than reported concentration
of mature leaf (11.645.3 mg/100 g FW).
China rose
radish, opal basil, and opal radish microgreens also were
relatively abundant sources of vitamin C with more than 90.0
mg/100 g FW, equal to 1.5 times the recommended dietary
allowance (RDA).These microgreen varieties had higher
Figure 1. HPLC chromatograms of (A) vitamin K standards and (B) extraction of garnet amaranth microgreens. Menaquinone (vitamin K2) is the
internal standard. HPLC conditions are described under Materials and Methods.
Table 3. Mean Total Ascorbic Acid (TAA), Free Ascorbic
Acid (FAA), and Dehydroascorbic Acid (DAA)
Concentrations in 25 Commercially Grown Microgreens
microgreen name TAA (mg/100 g
FW) FAA (mg/100 g
FW) DAA (mg/100 g
arugula 45.8 ±3.0 32.7 ±1.3 13.2 ±2.8
bulls blood beet 46.4 ±3.0 46.0 ±3.3 0.5 ±0.3
celery 45.8 ±3.1 32.6 ±1.3 13.2 ±2.8
China rose radish 95.8 ±10.3 73.2 ±3.4 22.6 ±7.4
cilantro 40.6 ±2.4 24.5 ±1.8 16.1 ±2.2
garnet amaranth 131.6 ±2.9 105.1 ±3.1 26.5 ±1.4
golden pea
tendrils 25.1 ±0.7 15.3 ±1.7 9.8 ±1.2
green basil 71.0 ±2.7 59.0 ±1.8 12.0 ±1.1
green daikon
radish 70.7 ±2.7 58.8 ±1.7 11.9 ±1.1
magenta spinach 41.6 ±0.8 36.0 ±0.8 5.6 ±0.2
mizuna 42.9 ±1.6 32.3 ±1.0 10.6 ±0.7
opal basil 90.8 ±2.7 81.8 ±1.6 9.0 ±2.0
opal radish 90.1 ±2.7 81.1 ±1.7 9.0 ±1.9
pea tendrils 50.5 ±0.9 27.9 ±1.1 22.5 ±0.3
peppercress 57.2 ±1.6 33.0 ±0.7 24.2 ±1.8
pop corn shoots 31.8 ±0.7 21.4 ±2.5 10.4 ±3.0
purple kohlrabi 62.8 ±7.3 48.1 ±3.7 14.7 ±3.7
purple mustard 72.1 ±4.6 53.6 ±2.6 18.5 ±4.4
red beet 28.8 ±0.4 27.5 ±0.3 1.3 ±0.5
red cabbage 147.0 ±3.6 103.3 ±9.0 43.7 ±5.4
red mustard 62.2 ±2.6 40.8 ±1.4 21.4 ±1.3
red orach 45.4 ±0.9 43.7 ±0.9 1.7 ±0.2
red sorrel 56.7 ±1.4 41.9 ±1.9 14.9 ±0.7
sorrel 20.4 ±0.5 17.9 ±0.3 2.6 ±0.2
wasabi 44.8 ±1.9 35.0 ±2.0 9.8 ±0.1
coecient of
variation 12% 18% 35%
Values are expressed as mean ±standard error (n= 3).
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Article |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2012, 60, 764476517647
ascorbic acid concentration than does broccoli (89.2 mg/100 g
which is generally recognized as an excellent source of
vitamin C. Even though some of the 25 microgreens tested had
relatively low levels of total ascorbic acid, such as golden pea
tendrils (25.1 mg/100 g FW) and sorrel microgreens (20.4 mg/
100 g FW), they were comparable to spinach (28.1 mg/100 g
which is one of the most commonly consumed leaf
vegetables in the United States. Therefore, it was suggested that
fresh microgreens are generally good to excellent sources of
ascorbic acid and likely more concentrated with TAA than their
mature plant counterparts, which is in accordance with the
ndings of Bergquist et al.
on baby spinach: that younger
plants had higher ascorbic acid content than older harvested
Carotenoids. β-Carotene. β-Carotene (provitamin A) is an
important fat-soluble antioxidant and can protect cellular
membranes by scavenging free radicals.
As shown in Table
4, β-carotene levels ranged from 0.6 to 12.1 mg/100 g FW.
Among the tested microgreens, red sorrel had the highest β-
carotene concentration (12.1 mg/100 g FW), followed by
cilantro, red cabbage, and peppercress (11.7, 11.5, and 11.1
mg/100 g FW, respectively). The lowest β-carotene concen-
tration was found in golden pea tendrils and popcorn shoots
(around 0.6 mg/100 g FW), with the other microgreens at
intermediate values (5.2 to 8.6 mg/100 g FW). Compared with
fully developed cilantro leaves, cilantro seedlings contained 3-
fold more β-carotene. Red cabbage microgreens contained an
average of 11.5 mg/100 g FW which is approximately 260-fold
more than the value (0.044 mg/100 g FW) reported for mature
red cabbage leaves.
Wasabi, green basil, pea tendrils, and
garnet amaranth microgreens are also abundantly concentrated
with β-carotene. The β-carotene concentration in these
microgreens is comparable to that of carrot (Daucus carota
L.) and sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam), which are
well-known β-carotene-rich vegetables.
In summary, almost
all the microgreens tested can be considered as excellent
sources of β-carotene, with the exceptions of popcorn shoots
and golden pea tendrils.
Lutein/Zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are xanthophyll
carotenoids, accumulating in the macula of human eyes.
Numerous epidemiological studies have shown that lutein
and zeaxanthin play a critical role in the prevention of age-
related macular degeneration and cataract.
In the analysis of
lutein and zeanthaxin, these two isomers were coeluted in our
HPLC system, so all values were calculated on the basis of area
under the curve of lutein standard and expressed in lutein
equivalents but represent as the sum of lutein and zeaxanthin.
While all 25 microgreens assayed in this study contained lutein
and zeaxanthin (Table 4), cilantro had the highest lutein/
zeaxanthin levels with 10.1 mg/100 g FW (Figure 2). Red
sorrel, red cabbage, and garnet amaranth microgreens followed
with lutein/zeaxanthin concentrations of 8.8, 8.6, and 8.4 mg/
100 g FW, respectively. These values were higher than that of
mature spinach (7.2 mg/100 g FW), which contains high
quantities of lutein/zeaxanthin.
The lowest concentration of
lutein/zeaxanthin, 1.3 mg/100 g FW was found in popcorn
shoots. According to the USDA national nutrient database,
was determined that the values of lutein/zeaxanthin in raw
mature cilantro and red cabbage were 0.9 and 0.3 mg/100 g
FW, respectively, which contrasted with the more abundant
concentrations in their microgreen counterparts, which had
11.2 and 28.6 times greater lutein/zeaxanthin concentrations,
respectively. These ndings suggest that these immature leaves
of the microgreens tend to possess higher lutein/zeaxanthin
concentration than their fully grown plant counterparts.
Violaxanthin. Violaxanthin is a natural orange-colored
carotenoid found in photosynthetic organs of plants. The
concentration of violaxanthin in the 25 microgreens varied
considerably, with cilantro microgreens containing 7.7 mg/100
g FW violaxanthin while popcorn shoots and golden pea
tendrils contained only 0.9 and 1.0 mg/100 g FW violaxanthin,
respectively (Table 4). The rest of the microgreens had
violaxanthin ranging from 1.3 to 4.3 mg/100 g FW. The
maximum concentration of violaxanthin in cilantro microgreens
was more than 5-fold than that of mature cilantro leaves (1.4
mg/100 g FW) and 2.8 times than that of mature spinach (2.7
mg/100 g FW), both of which are considered as good sources
of violaxanthin.
Twenty-two out of the 25 microgreens
assayed possessed violaxanthin concentration higher than
mature cilantro, and 40% of them were at levels equal to or
higher than commonly consumed mature-leaf spinach and
baby-leaf spinach.
Tocopherols. Tocopherols and tocotrienols are together
summarized as vitamin E, known as fat-soluble antioxidants.
Table 4. Mean β-Carotene, Violaxanthin, and Lutein/
Zeaxanthin Concentrations in 25 Commercially Grown
β-carotene (mg/
100 g FW) lutein/zeaxanthin
(mg/100 g FW) violaxanthin
(mg/100 g FW)
arugula 7.5 ±0.4 5.4 ±0.2 2.6 ±0.1
bulls blood
beet 5.3 ±0.8 4.3 ±0.7 2.3 ±0.1
celery 5.6 ±0.1 5.0 ±0.1 2.6 ±0.1
China rose
radish 5.4 ±0.5 4.9 ±0.4 1.9 ±0.1
cilantro 11.7 ±1.1 10.1 ±0.3 7.7 ±0.6
amaranth 8.6 ±0.3 8.4 ±0.1 4.4 ±0.1
golden pea
tendrils 0.6 ±0.0 2.7 ±0.0 1.0 ±0.1
green basil 8.4 ±0.4 6.6 ±0.3 2.7 ±0.2
green daikon
radish 6.1 ±0.1 4.5 ±0.1 1.7 ±0.0
spinach 5.3 ±0.3 3.2 ±0.2 3.7 ±0.5
mizuna 7.6 ±0.4 5.2 ±0.3 2.4 ±0.1
opal basil 6.1 ±0.4 5.3 ±0.3 2.0 ±0.0
opal radish 6.3 ±1.0 5.5 ±0.9 2.3 ±0.4
pea tendrils 8.2 ±1.1 7.3 ±1.2 3.9 ±1.4
peppercress 11.1 ±0.6 7.7 ±0.4 3.1 ±0.2
shoots 0.6 ±0.1 1.3 ±0.1 0.9 ±0.1
kohlrabi 5.7 ±0.2 4.0 ±0.1 1.5 ±0.0
mustard 5.6 ±0.4 6.4 ±1.9 1.0 ±0.2
red beet 7.7 ±0.1 5.5 ±0.0 3.7 ±0.0
red cabbage 11.5 ±1.2 8.6 ±1.0 2.9 ±0.3
red mustard 6.5 ±0.4 4.9 ±0.3 1.7 ±0.1
red orach 6.3 ±0.3 3.9 ±0.2 3.2 ±0.2
red sorrel 12.1 ±0.6 8.8 ±0.2 3.6 ±0.1
sorrel 5.2 ±1.0 4.2 ±0.8 1.3 ±0.3
wasabi 8.5 ±0.2 6.6 ±0.3 2.2 ±0.2
coecient of
variation 31% 18% 18%
Values are expressed as mean ±standard error (n= 3).
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Article |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2012, 60, 764476517648
Each group has four isomers (α,β,γ, and δ). The most active
form of all the tocopherols is α-tocopherol, while γ-tocopherol
is the most abundant form in plants.
In this study, α-and γ-
tocopherol contents for the 25 dierent varieties of micro-
greens are summarized (Table 5). Green daikon radish has
extremely high α- and γ-tocopherol contents of 87.4 and 39.4
mg/100 g FW, respectively (Figure 3). In addition, cilantro,
opal radish, and peppercress microgreens are also excellent
sources of α-andγ-tocopherol, with the α-tocopherol
concentrations ranging from 41.2 to 53.1 mg/100 g FW and
γ-tocopherol values from 12.5 to 16.7 mg/100 g FW. Even
though the values of α-tocopherol (4.9 mg/100 g FW) and γ-
tocopherol (3.0 mg/100 g FW) in golden pea tendrils were
among the lowest of the 25 microgreens, their values were still
markedly higher than those for more mature spinach leaves (2.0
and 0.2 mg/100 g FW, respectively).
Red cabbage micro-
greens contained over 40 times the vitamin E content of its
mature counterpart (0.06 mg/100 g FW) reported by Podsedek
et al.
In summary, the essential vitamin and carotenoid concen-
trations of 25 commercially available microgreens varieties have
been determined. In general, microgreens contain considerably
higher concentrations of vitamins and carotenoids than their
mature plant counterparts, although large variations were found
among the 25 species tested. Maximum values of vitamin C,
viamin K1, and vitamin E were found in red cabbage, garnet
amaranth, and green daikon radish microgreens, respectively. In
terms of carotenoids, cilantro microgreens showed the highest
concentration of lutein/zeaxanthin and violaxanthin and ranked
second in β-carotene concentration. In contrast, popcorn
shoots and golden pea tendrils were relatively low in vitamins
and carotenoids, although they were still comparable nutrition-
ally to some commonly consumed mature vegetables. It is also
noted that golden pea tendrils, which are grown in the absence
of light, processed much lower vitamin and carotenoid
concentrations than pea tendrils grown under light, suggesting
that light plays an important role on nutriential values during
the growth of microgreens. The data generated by this research
likely provide a scientic basis for evaluating the vitamin and
carotenoid concentrations of microgreen cotyledon leaves. It
Figure 2. HPLC chromatograms of (A) carotenoid standards and (B) extraction of cilantro microgreens. β-Apo-8-carotenal is the internal standard,
and lutein and zeaxanthin are coeluted. HPLC conditions are described under Materials and Methods.
Table 5. Mean α- and γ-Tocopherol Concentration in 25
Commercially Grown Microgreens
microgreen name
α-tocopherol (mg/100 g
γ-tocopherol (mg/100 g
arugula 19.1 ±4.3 7.1 ±2.4
bulls blood beet 18.5 ±2.5 5.0 ±0.7
celery 18.7 ±5.1 6.1 ±1.4
China rose radish 19.7 ±3.1 7.5 ±1.1
cilantro 53.0 ±13.5 12.5 ±2.0
garnet amaranth 17.1 ±2.1 11.2 ±1.3
golden pea tendrils 4.9 ±0.3 3.0 ±0.2
green basil 19.9 ±0.3 6.0 ±0.4
green daikon radish 87.4 ±15.9 39.4 ±7.8
magenta spinach 14.2 ±3.3 5.1 ±0.8
mizuna 25.0 ±3.7 9.6 ±1.4
opal basil 24.0 ±2.1 8.3 ±0.8
opal radish 47.7 ±14.6 16.7 ±5.3
pea tendrils 35.0 ±6.8 8.3 ±2.0
peppercress 41.2 ±3.7 14.5 ±1.4
popcorn shoots 7.8 ±0.1 3.5 ±0.0
purple kohlrabi 13.8 ±1.0 5.6 ±0.4
purple mustard 18.6 ±1.3 7.0 ±0.7
red beet 34.5 ±2.3 8.3 ±0.6
red cabbage 24.1 ±5.5 10.3 ±3.1
red mustard 22.1 ±1.9 8.2 ±0.7
red orach 18.3 ±2.8 7.0 ±0.9
red sorrel 21.8 ±1.2 7.7 ±0.5
sorrel 9.3 ±1.5 3.1 ±0.5
wasabi 18.7 ±2.9 7.6 ±1.0
coecient of
variation 20% 16%
Values are expressed as mean ±standard error (n= 3).
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Article |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2012, 60, 764476517649
can also be used as a possible reference in estimating the dietary
intake and adequacies of vitamins from microgreens. However,
since growing, harvesting, and postharvest handling conditions
may have a considerable impact on the synthesis and
degradation of phytonutrients, including vitamins and carote-
noids, additional studies may be needed to evaluate the eect of
these agricultural practices on phytonutrient retention.
Corresponding Authors
*(G.L.) Telephone (301) 504-5981; fax (301) 504-5107; e-
mail *(Q.W.) Telephone (301) 405-
8421; fax (301) 314-3313; e-mail
This study was supported by USDA-ARS Project 1265-43440-
The authors declare no competing nancial interest.
We are thankful to Dr. Pei Chen and Dr. Jianghao Sun (USDA-
ARS, Beltsville, MD) for providing valuable help on HPLC
determinations. Mention of trade names or commercial
products in this publication is solely for the purpose of
providing specic information and does not imply recom-
mendation or endorsement by the U.S. Department of
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Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Article |J. Agric. Food Chem. 2012, 60, 764476517651
Considering the well-being cognizance of masses, the microgreens have emerged as the potential therapeutic functional foods for improving the overall health by dietary supplementation. Microgreens have delicate texture, distinctive flavors and exceptional volume of various nutrients accounting for higher neutraceutical benefits compared to their mature counterparts. Mounting interest in microgreens owes not only to their nutritional significance but also to their fascinating organoleptic traits. Many factors like rapid shrinkage of the land resources, lifestyle modification, healthy diet habits, the functional importance of food etc. cumulatively have resulted in increased interest in the microscale production of vegetables for the ready-to-eat market. Augmenting the production of secondary metabolites could provide more nutritional benefits, sensory attributes, and resistance to pests while, sharing many characteristics with sprouts, they are not associated with any foodborne illness. Their production by manipulation of agronomic practices like seeds, growing media, and light quality and biofortification with nutrients may result in nutrient-rich produce. These high-value crops typically characterized by short postharvest life and several pre a-harvest treatments can effectively maintain the shelf life of microgreens. Further, several genetic improvement tools can enhance the availability of bioactive compounds with minimum antinutritional factors. In this review, the comparative overview of the nutritional significance of microgreens with sprouts and their mature counterparts has been discussed. Further, the advances or manipulations in production technologies, the involvement of breeding programmes, and efficient post-harvest technologies to promote cost-effective production and future strategies for maintaining the shelf life and quality of microgreens have been argued.
Full-text available
Microgreens are salad crop shoots harvested for consumption within 10 - 20 d of seedling emergence. A series of cultural experiments was conducted with the objective of lessening the greenhouse production time, and therefore the production cost, for microgreen arugula (Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa) grown in peat-lite (a soilless medium). Sowing seeds at a high rate (55 g m -2) resulted in a greater shoot fresh weight (FW) m-2 at 10 d after planting (DAP) than sowing at lower rates, although individual shoots were lighter. Two fertilisation regimes were examined: pre-plant incorporation of 500 - 4,000 mg N 1-1 supplied as ammonium nitrate, calcium nitrate, ammonium sulphate, or urea, and/or post-emergence daily fertilisation with solutions of 21-2.2-16.6 (N-P-K) at 0,75, or 150 mg N 1-1. The two most economical fertilisation treatments to increase shoot FW m-2 were daily solution fertilisation with 150 mg N 1-1, or daily solution fertilisation with 75 mg N 1-1 plus a pre-plant media incorporation of 1,000 mg N 1-1 from Ca(NO3)2. Irrespective of these two fertilisation treatments, pre-sowing germination (pre-germination) of seed by incubation in grade-5 exfoliated vermiculite (1.12 g seed in 157 g vermiculite) moistened with 2 g water g-1 dry weight (DW) vermiculite for 1 d at 20°C, resulted in a 21% increase in shoot FW by 14 DAP compared to sowing non-treated seed. Pre-germinated seed showed 81.5% germination, with radicles averaging 2 mm in length at the time of sowing.
Full-text available
Seed treatments to advance the establishment of table beet or chard (Beta vulgaris L.) for greenhouse microgreen production were examined. While germination percentage was little affected, appreciable germination advancement in both crops was achieved using all seed treatments of matric priming (-1 MPa at 12°C for 6 d in fine vermiculite) or various soaks (water, 20°C for 48 h; hydrogen peroxide, 0.3% at 20°C for 48 h; hydrogen chloride, 0.3 M at 20°C for 2 h; or sodium hypochlorite, 4% at 20°C for 3 h). The most pronounced seedling emergence advancement, however, was gained by germinating seeds in fine grade vermiculite and sowing the germinated seed plus vermiculite mixture. No additional advancement in seedling emergence or growth was achieved by priming or soaking the seeds in hydrogen peroxide before germinating the seeds in the vermiculite. Germinating the seeds in shallow (c 4 cm deep) vermiculite (150% initial water, c 1 seed:3 vermiculite dry weight ratio, 27°C) for 2 d (table beet) or 3 d (chard) resulted in 0.33-fold and 2.79-fold greater shoot fresh weight, respectively, at 11 d after planting than was achieved by sowing untreated seeds.
Full-text available
In a growth chamber study, lettuce (Lactuca sativa) plants were used to evaluate the effects of water deficits on health-promoting phytochemicals with antioxidant properties. Lettuce plants were treated with water stress by withholding water once at 6 weeks after sowing for 2 days or multiple times at 4 weeks for 4 days, at 5 weeks for 3 days, and at 6 weeks for 2 days. Water stress increased the total phenolic concentration and antioxidant capacity in lettuce. Young seedlings, 7 days after germination, had the highest total phenolic concentration and antioxidant capacity, and also, younger plants were typically more responsive to water stress treatments in accumulating the antioxidants than older plants. Phenylalanine ammonia lyase and γ-tocopherol methyltransferase genes, involved in the biosynthesis of phenolic compounds and vitamin E, respectively, were activated in response to water stress, although no activation of L-galactose dehydrogenase was detected. Lettuce plants subjected to multiple water stress treatments accumulated significant amounts of chicoric acid compared with the control plants. Although the increase in antioxidant activity in water stress-treated plants at harvest was not as great as in young seedlings, it was significantly higher than the control. One-time water stress treatment of lettuce at the time of harvest did not result in any adverse effect on plant growth. Thus, these results show that mild water stress in lettuce applied just before harvest can enhance its crop quality with regard to its phytochemical concentration without any significant adverse effect on its growth or yield.
Full-text available
The objective of this study was to assess responses of certain antioxidants in harvested leaves of selected cultivars of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) differing in postharvest senescence rates in order to explore the significance of these antioxidants in postharvest senescence regulation and dynamics. Ten cultivars were grown in both field plots and laboratory growth chambers, harvested at maturity, and their leaves detached and stored at 10°C in the dark. Following postharvest analysis, two cultivars were identified consistently as having relatively high ('Spokane F1') and low ('BJ 412 Sponsor') postharvest senescence rates. These two cultivars were then grown in a growth chamber for 45 days and their leaves detached and stored as above. At the point of harvest (day 0) and on days 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20, samples were analyzed for activities of ascorbate peroxidase (ASPX; EC, catalase (CAT; EC, and superoxide dismutase (SOD; EC, and (ii) concentrations of malondialdehyde (MDA, an indicator of lipid peroxidation), total ascorbate, reduced ascorbate (AsA), oxidized ascorbate (DAsA), total glutathione, reduced glutathione (GSH), and oxidized glutathione (GSSG). Although MDA accumulated in leaves of both cultivars concomitant with time after detachment, levels became significantly higher in 'Spokane F1'. It is argued that declining activities of ASPX and levels of ascorbate and increasing activities of SOD manifested in accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in 'Spokane F1', leading to a greater potential for lipid peroxidation in this cultivar than for 'BJ 412 Sponsor'. SOD activities and glutathione levels may have increased as a result of elevated oxidative stress in 'Spokane F1'. Increased hydrogen peroxide accumulation in 'Spokane F1' relative to 'BJ 412 Sponsor' may have contributed to an increased rate of senescence in the harvested leaves of this cultivar.
Recipes of amarnath (Amaranthus tricolor) and kondhara (Digeria arvensis) leaves were standardized in the laboratory and analyzed for their nutrient content. The protein, fat, total minerals, crude fibre, carbohydrates and energy content of raw leaves varied from 27.89 to 28.44, 1.74 to 4.55, 20.26 to 22.61, 5.50 to 8.00, 38.90 to 42.11 g and 294.64 to 310.31 Kcal/100 g, dry weight (d.w.), respectively. Ca, Fe, ascorbic acid and β-carotene content of the raw leaves were 3135.0 to 3289.58, 3.35 to 8.98, 104.34 to 170.39 mg/100 g and 13464 to 14057 μg/100 g, d.w. respectively. Paratha and poori were prepared by incorporating amaranth leaves. Bengal gram dhal, green gram dhal, raita and sag were prepared by incorporating kondhara leaves. Protein, fat, minerals, crude fibre, carbohydrates and energy content of their products varied from 11.48 to 30.44, 7.25 to 28.77, 2.64 to 21.33, 0.25 to 5.75, 38.56 to 70.72 g/100g and 367.33 to 533.29 Kcal/100 g, d.w., respectively. Ca, Fe, ascorbic acid and β-carotene content of their products were 127.30 to 3350.0, 1.50 to 4.10, 5.41 to 60.83 mg/100 g and 1710 to 10557 μg/.100 g, dw, respectively. It is concluded that these leaves and their products are good sources of protein, Ca, Fe, and β-carotene.
This experiment was conducted to investigate the effect of chlorinated water on storage quality and microbial reduction of tah tasai Chinese cabbage young leaf vegetable (microgreen). Fresh young leaves were washed in cold (5 degrees C) and warm (25 degrees C) chlorinated water with 0, 50 or 100 mg.L(-1) free chlorine for 90 sec. Samples were then packaged in polypropylene (PP) film bag and stored for 8 days at 15 degrees C. Changes in weight loss, color, SPAD value, external appearance, and aerobic plate count (APC) were evaluated. Chlorinated water treatment at 5 degrees C had a more beneficial effect Oil Visual quality, weight loss, SPAD value change than 25 degrees C chlorinated water treatment. No significant difference was found in APC on the surface of tah tasai Chinese cabbage microgreen after 3-day storage period. Chlorinated water either at 5 degrees C or 25 degrees C with 50-100 mg.L(-1) free chlorine significantly reduced APC during the initial period of storage (up to 2 days). The results indicated that chlorinated water only affected microbial reduction until tah tasai Chinese cabbage microgreen maintained its initial quality.
A systematic survey of green leafy vegetables from Edo State of Nigeria was carried out to evaluate their frequency of use in local meals. Twelve commonest ones out of the twenty nine green leafy vegetables encountered with frequency ≥1.5% were selected for further evaluation to determine their nutritional and medicinal values. Fresh leaves were shredded and sun dried before milling into vegetable powder and then taken for qualitative and quantitative phytochemical analysis. The vegetables were a major source of ascorbic acid and the mean values ranged from 100 to 421.6 mg/100 g with the Amaranthus (408 mg100-1g) and Celosia (421 mg100-1g) species containing higher quantities. Amaranthus and Talinum recorded high mineral contents. The crude protein ranged from 3.8 to 27.7 g/100 g and carbohydrate contents ranged from 2.9 to 47.9 g/100 g. The analysis further showed presence of alkaloids, inulins, saponins and tannins which are known components of herbs used in traditional medicine. The ailments treated using the 12 selected leafy vegetables include common headaches, fevers, diarrhoea, anaemia, high blood pressure and female infertility.
Compelling chemical, biochemical, clinical and epidemiological evidence supports the view that the antioxidant nutrients exert vital contributions towards the prevention or delayed onset of cancer and cardiovascular disease. The presence of antioxidants in fruit, vegetables, tea and red wine may help to explain why their presence in the diet is associated with reduced incidence of heart disease and cancer.