Antioxidant and Mineral Composition of Three Wild Leafy Species: A Comparison Between Microgreens and Baby Greens

Foods. 2019 Oct 12;8(10):487. doi: 10.3390/foods8100487.


Wild plants may play an important role in human nutrition and health and, among them, many are the leafy species. We hypothesized that the wild greens could be profitably grown as microgreens and baby greens, specialty products whose market is increasing. We compared three wild leafy species (Sanguisorba minor Scop., Sinapis arvensis L., and Taraxacum officinale Weber ex F. H. Wigg.) harvested at the microgreen and baby green stages. Seedlings were grown hydroponically in a half-strength Hoagland nutrient solution under controlled climatic conditions. At harvest, the yield was assessed, and chlorophylls, carotenoids, anthocyanins, phenolic index, nitrate, and mineral elements were measured in the two types of product. The potential contribution to human mineral intake was calculated, and the possible risk due to the presence of metals potentially detrimental for health was estimated. Results showed that micro/baby greens of the studied wild plants achieved competitive yields and could contribute to the dietary intake of macroelements, microelements, and non-nutrient bioactive compounds. On the other hand, the wild greens showed high amounts of nitrate and traces of some metals potentially detrimental for health, suggesting the need for caution in the use of wild species for producing microgreens and baby leaves.

Keywords: dietary value; health risk; immature greens; minerals; nitrate; vegetable specialty products; wild plants.