Have you added microgreens to your anti-cancer foods list?
They’re not cheap, but ounce for ounce, these tiny first leaves of edible seedlings boast lots more nutrients than their mature counterparts. And the best part :
They’re delicious raw. In the case of cruciferous plants, that’s a big bonus because the enzymes that produce certain cancer-fighting compounds are destroyed with too much heat (although maybe not totally destroyed, if you just use a little heat—and there is evidence that our guts produce some of those enzymes.)
Red cabbage microgreens, mustard, kale (ok, I love the grown-up leaves raw, assuming they’re wilted), rapini and broccoli (can’t stand it raw, can you?) —These are a few of the many choices of cruciferous microgreens offered by Jardi-Pousses, a microgreenery (Is that a word?) in Ste. Adele, Quebec.
Broccoli? Did I say “broccoli sprouts,” the crucifer that appears to have the highest density of those cancer-fighting compounds?
No, I said “broccoli microgreens.” What’s the difference?
Microgreens and sprouts are both grown in a short period of time from germinated seeds. Sprouts are germinated in water, usually for a couple of days, and grow roots, stems and underdeveloped leaves. Microgreens are germinated in soil –first for a few days in the dark, then exposed to light for at least a week. If you were hosting a taste test or beauty pageant in your anti-cancer kitchen, broccoli microgreens would beat out sprouts, cotyledons down.
More than 15 years ago, Dr. Paul Talalay, a Johns Hopkins scientist, discovered to his surprise that three- day- old broccoli sprouts contained 10 to 100 times more of those cancer-fighting compounds than the corresponding mature broccoli. He built a business based on his findings—putting broccoli sprouts on the shelves of large grocery stores across the US.
So is there a difference between the nutritional value of microgreens and sprouts? Nobody’s yet done that comparative research.
We do know that the density of certain vitamins in those baby microgreens is much greater than in their adult forms . We also know that the anti-oxidant content of sprouted seeds, beans and grains is greater than in unsprouted specimens.
So maybe it’s all just down to the seed—which Talalay says contains those high concentrations—-and maybe it doesn’t matter whether you germinate that seed in water or soil. What do you science folks out there think?
In any case, I’m hooked —and not waiting on the studies. (I won’t go overboard, however–4 cups of broccoli sprouts a day could be worrisome.)
Broccoli microgreens are now germinating near my anti-cancer kitchen, thanks to a lesson from Denise Richer at Jardi-Pousses, who’s been growing her own for more than a decade. If you live in or near Montreal, you can find their vibrant plants at the market in Val David, Quebec on Saturdays (through end of September) or in Montreal at Fruiterie Roger, 1832 Laurier East, near Papineau, where it’s fresh on the shelves every Monday morning.
If you live elsewhere and know of a good grower, please share by commenting below.
Of course, you could always beef up your own anti-cancer kitchen by picking up this helpful book and growing your own baby greens.