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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: EVALUATION AND MAINTENANCE OF FLAVOR, NUTRITIONAL AND OTHER QUALITY ATTRIBUTES OF FRESH AND FRESH-CUT PRODUCE

Location: Food Quality Laboratory

Title: Assessment of vitamin and carotenoid concentrations of emerging food products: edible microgreens

Authors
item Xiao, Zhenlei -
item LESTER, GENE
item LUO, YAGUANG
item Wang, Qin -

Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 18, 2012
Publication Date: July 18, 2012
Citation: Xiao, Z., Lester, G.E., Luo, Y., Wang, Q. 2012. Assessment of vitamin and carotenoid concentrations of emerging food products: edible microgreens. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 60(31):7644-7651.

Interpretive Summary: 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.

Technical Abstract: Microgreens, (seedlings of edible green 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 flavors, vivid colors and crisp texture and can be served as an edible garnish or a new salad ingredient. However, no scientific data is 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 different microgreens provided extremely varying amounts of phytonutrients. Total ascorbic acid contents ranged from 20.4 to147.0 mg per 100 g fresh weight (FW), ß-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, a-tocopherol and '-tocopherol ranged from 4.9 to 87.5 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 mature leaves nutritional concentrations (USDA National Nutritional Database), microgreen cotyledon leaves possessed higher nutritional densities. These phytonutrient data may provide a scientific basis for evaluating nutritional values of microgreens and contribute to food composition database. These data also may be used as a reference for health agencies’ recommendations and consumers’ choices of fresh vegetables.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014
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