Microgreens are hands down the healthiest vegetable on the market. That said, some vegetables are healthier than others. I've ranked the list of vegetables based on their antioxidant capacity, vitamins and mineral content, based on the best available studies.
To compare the vitamins and mineral contents of vegetables, I've compiled the data from the USDA food nutrient chart that compares the nutrients and minerals found in vegetables, and substituting for shoots and sprouts data where available. Each nutrient is normalized to the percent daily value per serving of vegetable that you consume.
To antioxidant activity, there was a study that examines the total phenol and antioxidant capacity of microgreens by Samuoliene et al (1), which ranked these vegetables from highest to lowest: broccoli, pea, mustard, amaranth, kale, parsely, basil (1).
At 550% of daily value cumulative nutrients, broccoli is the king of nutrients. It has the most complete nutrient package of any vegetable on this list. It is packed with Vitamin A, B, C and K. Plus, it has a significant amount of as iron, magnesium and phosphorus.
Fortunately for microgreen growers, broccoli seeds is one of the cheapest available microgreen seeds on the market.
To top it off, broccoli has one of the highest levels of antioxidant capacity out of all the vegetables on the list. Broccoli has the best available nutrients and antioxidant capacity, which makes it the king of microgreens.
Kale is one of the trendiest vegetable on the market for a good reason. It’s actually the most nutritious vegetable among the brassica family when you take into account of vitamin K. The reason why I didn’t include vitamin K in the analysis is because kale and broccoli contains more than 100% vitamin K daily requirement per serving, which would skew the result.
Kale has more vitamin B, just as much vitamin C, but less vitamin A than broccoli. Vitamin A is more important for your health than vitamin K.
But Kale has a lower antioxidant capacity than broccoli by a wide margin. The biggest problem with kale is that its seeds are expensive. Some varieties of kale do not produce seeds until the plants are two years old. This is why kale takes the number two spot.
Pea shoots are one of the cheapest microgreens that you can grow, but it’s also one of the healthiest microgreens, that’s just fall short of kale and broccoli in terms of nutritional quality. But at the same time, it complements the nutrition of kale and broccoli because it has significant amounts vitamin B’s: niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, B-6 and folate.
Peas have double the concentration of iron, phosphorus and magnesium compared to broccoli. Pea shoots have been shown to have heart protective effects as well as the second highest antioxidant capacity. Peas and broccoli are the only two microgreens you need. Everything else is just for variety.
People don’t really think radish greens are edible and only eat the roots. But radish roots and greens are edible, which makes it a unique microgreen. Although it’s in the same vegetable family as kale and broccoli, radish contains a different set of vitamins and minerals.
Radish greens have plenty of vitamin B, but barely any vitamin A and C compared to kale and broccoli. That said, it’s one of the microgreens that is easy to grow and priced reasonably.
Amaranth is a super family of vegetables that includes quinoa. Vegetables in the quinoa family are consumed for their leaves and seeds. Unlike the brassica family of vegetables, the nutrient profile for amaranth is very well balanced. It’s not enriched in any one of the nutrients.
It has a little bit of Vitamin A, B, and C, and a major source of minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium.
It's very high on the list because it's has one of the highest amount of antioxidant capacity, beating kale by a small margin. Plus, it's one of the cheapest microgreen seeds on the market.
Arugula is part of the brassica family. But being only recently isolated from the wild. Arugula is the least nutritious vegetable in the brassica family.
But the least nutritious out of a super family of nutritious vegetables are still very good. It actually has a lot of minerals, and a respectable amount of vitamin A. Unlike kale, arugula seeds can be found at a price that is comparable to broccoli seeds.
I am the author of this website and owner of growyourmicrogreens.com. I am an hobbyist gardener and a passionate scientist. I was trained as a scientist in the Molecular Genetics program in University of Toronto, where I received my Masters of Science and published a journal article.