By Keya Salot
Children need the right kind of nutrition for optimum growth. Parents always try to ensure that their children consume a diet which is rich in nutrients. Some children are selective about their food choices while others enjoy eating everything. The main concern is about essential nutrients getting lost in the process of cooking a dish. Microgreens help fill up the nutritional gap in our daily diet. Microgreens have been gaining popularity in recent years as a superfood. You can introduce new life on your child’s plate by using microgreens in their diet.
Live food, where nutrients remain intact
Microgreens are generally eaten raw. Zero pesticides and the ability to provide maximum nutrients without any process of cooking can make microgreens a favourite choice for parents. Children can benefit to a great extent if microgreens are made part of their daily diet. These tiny and extremely adorable seedlings tend to have 40 times more nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants than their mature counterparts. For kids who don’t like milk, you can use barley grass in the food. It contains 11 times more calcium than milk. In fact, it is believed that barley grass was used by ancient gladiators for acquiring strength and endurance.
In infants and children, vitamin A is essential to support rapid growth and to help combat infections. Radish microgreens are a rich source of vitamin A and each cup of radish micros is equal to 19 cups of full-grown radishes. Also, there are different flavours of microgreens available in the market considering the palate of children.
An excellent source of carotenoid and beta-carotene
Microgreens often considered for aesthetics of the dish are not just added for flavour and presentation but also for the high level of rare nutrients present in them. These little gems are overloaded with nutrients, such as carotenoid, beta-carotene, multi-vitamins, antioxidant and lutein. A precursor to vitamin A, beta-carotene is extremely important for healthy skin, immune system and eyes.
If it’s good to eat your vegetables, it’s even better to eat your microgreens! Research has shown kale, cress and broccoli microgreens help in preventing cancer. They contain sulforaphane, a cancer fighting compound in quantities that are 10 to 100 times more than adult broccoli plants.
Full of polyphenols
India has been witnessing a significant rise in obesity among children over the last few years. There are more than 14 million obese children and adolescents in India who are exposed to the risk of heart diseases. Research conducted over the last 20 years has shown that polyphenols can improve the function of blood vessels, increase ‘good’ cholesterol and promote anti-inflammatory activity. Microgreens such as red cabbage, mizura, purple kohlrabi have large quantities of polyphenols. In five species of Brassica, 164 polyphenols were found. Adding microgreens would certainly improve the cardiovascular health of children and young adults.
Packed with proteins
In 2018, The Indian Dietetic Association (IDA) claimed that vegetarian diets in our country are 84 per cent deficient in protein. Protein intake from conception to the time a child turns two has implications that can lasts for a lifetime. Protein can be found in both animal as well as plant sources.
However, animal proteins run the risk of being infused with antibiotics or synthetic hormones. They may even comprise dangerous levels of cholesterol. Certain types of seafood could cause allergies. All types of meat may cause health complications if not stored properly or cleaned effectively.
Microgreens, pound for pound, have substantial levels of protein. For instance, sunflower microgreens contain 24 per cent to 30 per cent protein in each seedling. If your child consumes only vegetarian food, either due to religious or health reasons, you don’t need to worry about lack of protein in his diet. Just pepper his meals with microgreens.
Deficiency of minerals can cause metabolic disorders, organ damage and other diseases. Lack of calcium and magnesium can cause osteoporosis, the dreaded bone disease. Many children avoid eating vegetables. However, veggies are a crucial source of minerals. According to the National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad, 40 per cent of children consume vegetables for less than six days in a week.
But don’t be surprised if your little ones gorge on microgreens as they may fall in love with the flavours. The best part is the quantity of minerals that they would end up consuming. Potassium is found abundantly in microgreens. It is found the most in wasabi microgreens and purple kohlrabi microgreens have 0.75 milligrams of iron per 100 grams.
If your child is suffering from constant cold, fevers or stomach upsets, use these microgreens to boost their immunity and lend tremendous flavour to any dish which they have been added to.
(The writer is Founder, Farm2Fam.)