When it comes to diet, we tend to focus solely on the types of foods we eat, but if you ask functional nutritionist Deanna Minich, Ph.D., she will tell you the size of your food is also very important.
In a recent podcast for mindbodygreen, Minich explained that smaller plant-based foods can offer more nutrients because phytonutrients tend to be more concentrated in smaller foods. Minich doesn’t mean to say that tiny blueberries are necessarily more nutrient-dense than, for example, a pomegranate. Rather, she is comparing foods within the same phytonutrient family.
“So microgreens instead of the large collard leaf,” she says. “That is going to give you greater nutrient density.”
When Minich talks about microgreens, she is referring to young vegetables such as tiny, peppery sprouts and baby broccoli, which are convenient and easy to grow in small spaces. According to a 2014 study conducted by the USDA in which 25 varieties of microgreens were tested, microgreens were found to have “considerably higher levels of vitamins and carotenoids—about five times greater—than their mature plant counterparts.”
Similarly, tiny, wild blueberries were found to have twice the amount of antioxidants when compared to regular blueberries, according to the Nutrient Data Laboratory from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
All of this isn’t to say that you should stop eating grown-up broccoli or regular-sized blueberries. By all means, enjoy! We just want to make you aware of the incredible nutritional benefits that come with eating “smaller” foods, which might motivate you to buy tiny berries or microgreens the next time you go to the grocery store. Or even better, maybe you’ll grow them yourself.
Want to read more into the benefits of tiny plant-based foods? Like no further than right here.