Special Issue "Sprouts and Microgreens: Phytochemicals, Health Benefits and Safety"

A special issue of Foods (ISSN 2304-8158). This special issue belongs to the section "Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (24 June 2022) | Viewed by 5806

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Dunja Šamec
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Food Technology, University North, Trg dr. Žarka Dolinara 1, 48000 Koprivnica, Croatia
Interests: plant specialized metabolites; natural products in plant based food; metabolomics; climate changes impact on plant-based food production
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Consumption of vegetables and herbs in the juvenile stage has become widely popular in the last couple of years. This is because they are easy to grow, provide a unique taste and present an economical way to get fresh vegetables on a daily basis. In general, we can recognize sprouts that grow for 2–7 days, and microgreens which are characterized by their first true leaves that occur within 7–21 days after sowing.

This Special Issue will focus on the latest findings related to vegetables and herbs sprout and microgreen phytochemicals, health benefits and safety. It will include papers dealing with new findings about the presence of growing and genetic, as well as environmental, factors, which may influence the level of health-promoting compounds. The use of modern omics tools will be highly appreciated. Papers on in vitro and in vivo biological activity and the potential health benefits of extracts or compounds isolated from sprouts or microgreens are also welcome, as well as papers dealing with their safety for human consumption. This Special Issue will include original research articles, reviews, and short communications.

Dr. Dunja Šamec
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Foods is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • vegetables
  • sprouts
  • microgreens
  • phytochemicals
  • biological activity

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Enhancement of Glucosinolate Formation in Broccoli Sprouts by Hydrogen Peroxide Treatment
Foods 2022, 11(5), 655; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11050655 - 23 Feb 2022
Viewed by 595
Abstract
Broccoli sprouts are known as a rich source of health-beneficial phytonutrients: glucosinolates and phenolic compounds. The production of phytonutrients can be stimulated by elicitors that activate the plant stress response. The aim of this study was enhancing the nutritional value of broccoli sprouts [...] Read more.
Broccoli sprouts are known as a rich source of health-beneficial phytonutrients: glucosinolates and phenolic compounds. The production of phytonutrients can be stimulated by elicitors that activate the plant stress response. The aim of this study was enhancing the nutritional value of broccoli sprouts using hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) as an elicitor. Daily spraying with H2O2 (500–1000 mM) enhanced the accumulation of glucosinolates, doubling their content in the cotyledons of 16/8 h photoperiod-grown 7-day sprouts compared to the water-treated controls. The application of H2O2 on dark-grown sprouts showed a smaller extent of glucosinolate stimulation than with light exposure. The treatment affected sprout morphology without reducing their yield. The H2O2-treated sprouts had shorter hypocotyls and roots, negative root tropism and enhanced root branching. The activated glucosinolate production became evident 24 h after the first H2O2 application and continued steadily until harvest. Applying the same treatment to greenhouse-grown wild rocket plants caused scattered leaf bleaching, a certain increase in glucosinolates but decline in phenolics content. The H2O2 treatment of broccoli sprouts caused a 3.5-fold upregulation of APK1, a gene related to sulfur mobilization for glucosinolate synthesis. Comparing the APK1 expression with the competing gene GSH1 using sulfur for antioxidant glutathione production indicated that glutathione synthesis prevailed in the sprouts over the formation of glucosinolates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sprouts and Microgreens: Phytochemicals, Health Benefits and Safety)
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Article
Low Temperatures Affect the Physiological Status and Phytochemical Content of Flat Leaf Kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) Sprouts
Foods 2022, 11(3), 264; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11030264 - 19 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 710
Abstract
Consumption of plants in the juvenile stage becomes popular because sprouts are easy to grow, and they can be a tasty source of micro- and macro-nutrients and various phytochemicals. However, some environmental factors during sprout growth can affect their characteristics. In this article, [...] Read more.
Consumption of plants in the juvenile stage becomes popular because sprouts are easy to grow, and they can be a tasty source of micro- and macro-nutrients and various phytochemicals. However, some environmental factors during sprout growth can affect their characteristics. In this article, we investigated how low temperatures during cultivation (8 °C) and additional exposure to freezing temperatures (−8 °C) affect the physiological status and phytochemical content of kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) sprouts compared to the control grown at 21 °C. We conducted five independent laboratory experiments and found that low temperature significantly increased proline content and decreased sprouts yield. In addition, low temperature caused a significant decrease in carotenoid and flavonoid content, while phenolic acid content and total glucosinolates content increased, but individual glucosinolates were differentially affected. Our results indicate that low temperatures affect the physiological status of kale sprouts and affect the content of phytochemicals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sprouts and Microgreens: Phytochemicals, Health Benefits and Safety)
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Article
Preharvest Nutrient Deprivation Reconfigures Nitrate, Mineral, and Phytochemical Content of Microgreens
Foods 2021, 10(6), 1333; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10061333 - 09 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1145
Abstract
While imparting gastronomic novelty and sensory delight, microgreens also constitute rudimentary leafy greens packed with nutrients and phytochemicals. As such, they comprise an upcoming class of functional foods. However, apart from bioactive secondary metabolites, microgreens also accumulate antinutritive agents such as nitrate, especially [...] Read more.
While imparting gastronomic novelty and sensory delight, microgreens also constitute rudimentary leafy greens packed with nutrients and phytochemicals. As such, they comprise an upcoming class of functional foods. However, apart from bioactive secondary metabolites, microgreens also accumulate antinutritive agents such as nitrate, especially under conducive protected cultivation conditions. The current work examined nutrient deprivation before harvest (DBH), applied by replacing nutrient solution with osmotic water for six and twelve days, as a strategy for reducing microgreen nitrate levels in different species (lettuce, mustard, and rocket). The three species were sown on a peat-based substrate, cultivated in a controlled climate chamber, and harvested 18 days after sowing, when the first two true leaves emerged. DBH impact on major constituents of the secondary metabolome, mineral content, colorimetric, and yield traits was appraised. Nitrate and mineral content were determined through ion chromatography, phenolic composition through UHPLC-Q-Orbitrap HRMS, and carotenoid composition through HPLC-DAD. Nutrient deprivation was effective in reducing nitrate content; however, effective treatment duration differed between species and decline was more precipitous in nitrate hyperaccumulating species such as rocket. Quercetin and kaempferol glycosides were the flavonol glycosides most abundant in brassicaceous microgreens, whereas lettuce microgreens were steeped in caffeoyl quinic acid. DBH interacted with species as it increased the total phenolic content of lettuce, decreased that of rocket, but did not affect mustard. Further research to link changes in phenolic composition to the sensory and in vivo bioactive profile of microgreens is warranted. Notably, brief (≤6 days) DBH can be applied across species with moderate or no impact on the phenolic, carotenoid, and mineral composition of microgreens. Brief DBH applications also have limited impact on microgreens’ yield and colorimetric traits hence on the commercial value of the product. They can therefore be applied for reducing microgreen nitrate levels without significantly impacting key secondary metabolic constituents and their potential bioactive role. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sprouts and Microgreens: Phytochemicals, Health Benefits and Safety)
Article
Ontogenetic Variation in the Mineral, Phytochemical and Yield Attributes of Brassicaceous Microgreens
Foods 2021, 10(5), 1032; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10051032 - 10 May 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 827
Abstract
Microgreens constitute novel gastronomic ingredients that combine visual, kinesthetic and bioactive qualities. The definition of the optimal developmental stage for harvesting microgreens remains fluid. Their superior phytochemical content against mature leaves underpins the current hypothesis of significant changes in compositional profile during the [...] Read more.
Microgreens constitute novel gastronomic ingredients that combine visual, kinesthetic and bioactive qualities. The definition of the optimal developmental stage for harvesting microgreens remains fluid. Their superior phytochemical content against mature leaves underpins the current hypothesis of significant changes in compositional profile during the brief interval of ontogeny from the appearance of the first (S1) to the second true leaf (S2). Microgreens of four brassicaceous genotypes (Komatsuna, Mibuna, Mizuna and Pak Choi) grown under controlled conditions and harvested at S1 and S2 were appraised for fresh and dry yield traits. They were further analyzed for macro- and micromineral content using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), carotenoid content using high-performance liquid chromatography with a diode-array detector (HPLC-DAD), volatile organic compounds using solid-phase microextraction followed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (SPME-GC/MS), anthocyanins and polyphenols using liquid chromatography-high resolution-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) with Orbitrap technology and for chlorophyll and ascorbate concentrations, well as antioxidant capacity by spectrophotometry. Analysis of compositional profiles revealed genotype as the principal source of variation for all constituents. The response of mineral and phytochemical composition and of antioxidant capacity to the growth stage was limited and largely genotype-dependent. It is, therefore, questionable whether delaying harvest from S1 to S2 would significantly improve the bioactive value of microgreens while the cost-benefit analysis for this decision must be genotype-specific. Finally, the lower-yielding genotypes (Mizuna and Pak Choi) registered higher relative increase in fresh yield between S1 and S2, compared to the faster-growing and higher-yielding genotypes. Although the optimal harvest stage for specific genotypes must be determined considering the increase in yield against reduction in crop turnover, harvesting at S2 seems advisable for the lower-yielding genotypes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sprouts and Microgreens: Phytochemicals, Health Benefits and Safety)
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Review

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Review
Trial Protocol for Evaluating Platforms for Growing Microgreens in Hydroponic Conditions
Foods 2022, 11(9), 1327; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11091327 - 03 May 2022
Viewed by 658
Abstract
The hydroponic production of microgreens has potential to develop, at both an industrial, and a family level, due to the improved production platforms. The literature review found numerous studies which recommend procedures, parameters and best intervals for the development of microgreens. This paper [...] Read more.
The hydroponic production of microgreens has potential to develop, at both an industrial, and a family level, due to the improved production platforms. The literature review found numerous studies which recommend procedures, parameters and best intervals for the development of microgreens. This paper aims to develop, based on the review of the literature, a set of procedures and parameters, included in a test protocol, for hydroponically cultivated microgreens. Procedures and parameters proposed to be included in the trial protocol for evaluating platforms for growing microgreens in hydroponic conditions are: (1) different determinations: in controlled settings (setting the optimal ranges) and in operational environments settings (weather conditions in the area/testing period); (2) procedures and parameters related to microgreen growth (obtaining the microgreens seedling, determining microgreen germination, measurements on the morphology of plants, microgreens harvesting); (3) microgreens production and quality (fresh biomass yield, dry matter content, water use efficiency, bioactive compound analysis, statistical analysis). Procedures and parameters proposed in the protocol will provide us with the evaluation information of the hydroponic platforms to ensure: number of growing days to reach desired size; yield per area, crop health, and secondary metabolite accumulation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sprouts and Microgreens: Phytochemicals, Health Benefits and Safety)
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Review
UV and Visible Spectrum LED Lighting as Abiotic Elicitors of Bioactive Compounds in Sprouts, Microgreens, and Baby Leaves—A Comprehensive Review including Their Mode of Action
Foods 2022, 11(3), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11030265 - 19 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 724
Abstract
Background: According to social demands, the agri-food industry must elaborate convenient safe and healthy foods rich in phytochemicals while minimising processing inputs like energy consumption. Young plants in their first stages of development represent great potential. Objective: This review summarises the latest scientific [...] Read more.
Background: According to social demands, the agri-food industry must elaborate convenient safe and healthy foods rich in phytochemicals while minimising processing inputs like energy consumption. Young plants in their first stages of development represent great potential. Objective: This review summarises the latest scientific findings concerning the use of UV and visible spectrum LED lighting as green, sustainable, and low-cost technologies to improve the quality of sprouts, microgreens, and baby leaves to enhance their health-promoting compounds, focusing on their mode of action while reducing costs and energy. Results: These technologies applied during growing and/or after harvesting were able to improve physiological and morphological development of sprouted seeds while increasing their bioactive compound content without compromising safety and other quality attributes. The novelty is to summarise the main findings published in a comprehensive review, including the mode of action, and remarking on the possibility of its postharvest application where the literature is still scarce. Conclusions: Illumination with UV and/or different regions of the visible spectrum during growing and shelf life are good abiotic elicitors of the production of phytochemicals in young plants, mainly through the activation of specific photoreceptors and ROS production. However, we still need to understand the mechanistic responses and their dependence on the illumination conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sprouts and Microgreens: Phytochemicals, Health Benefits and Safety)
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