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Health Benefits of Sorrel
Many years ago, the herb, sorrel was a very common ingredient for sauces, soups, salads. But because of the ever-changing world of the culinary, sorrel leaves slowly lost its place and vanished from cookbooks.
The come-back herb. Nowadays, thanks to the food revolution. Which is seen in the modern culinary world of today, Sorrel has made a comeback and that too with a bang. From professional master-chef to amateur home-cook, everyone is incorporating this herb in almost every recipe.
The alluring flavor of sorrel leaves is not the only thing that is responsible for its sudden yet much deserved popularity. The many health benefits of sorrel leaves also happen to be another reason.
Today you will discover not only the sorrel leaves many health benefits but everything else that you need to know about it about this amazing herb.
About Sorrel: Garden Sorrel Vs. French Sorrel
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Sorrel comes from the Rumex family. A popular member of the Rumex family is Docks plants. These species are found almost all over the world in temperate climate. Even though Rumex species are treated as weeds in USA, still sorrel is cultivated in many States of USA as a culinary herb for a long time now.
Before Europeans were known for cultivating and using Garden sorrel (broad leaf sorrel). Garden sorrel is characterized by arrow shaped slender leaves and is a perennial. But, later the French Sorrel (Buckler leaf sorrel) variety became common in many kitchens all over Europe, including England (during the 17th century).
French Sorrel has a milder flavor/taste than the Garden Sorrel and is characterized by round or bell-shaped leaves. Besides these two varieties, there is also the red-veined sorrel which is characterized by; yes you guessed right, red veins.
The Unique taste of Sorrel Leaves
Both the Garden and the French Sorrels has a tart flavor, almost like the taste of lemon. Early spring is the best time to have sorrels. This is because; it has the tendency to become more and more bitter as the season progresses.
How to incorporate Sorrel leaves in everyday meal?
But having said that, here it should be mentioned that Garden Sorrel do have a more acidic undertone than the French Sorrel. So for a milder lemony taste in casseroles, soups and salads, French Sorrel will be the right choice. And, for those people who prefer a lemony kick, the Garden Sorrel will be the right one to choose.
Everyone who works with sorrel agrees that both varieties go well with almost all types of egg preparation. Chicken stock with sorrel amongst other herbs will make a good base for any soup. Besides this, sorrels can also be paired with onions, butter and even heavy cream to make a delicious concoction.
Even though the small leaves can be enjoyed fresh and raw, it is advised that the larger ones are cooked. The cooked larger leaves kind of have the same consistency as cooked spinach.
Health benefits of Sorrel leaves (Nutritional)
Both the Garden and French Sorrel happen to have a wide range of nutritional benefits. Every 3.5 oz of sorrel leaves (per serving) has only 0.7 gm of Fat and around 42 calories. So, it is safe to say that it will be a great addition to every fitness/health enthusiasts meal plan.
Maintaining a low fat or low calorie (according to the type of diet) diet is possible with this herb. Besides this, per serving of sorrel contains about 6.5 g of carbohydrate and around 2.3 g of protein.
So, most of the calories is derive from carbohydrate in Sorrel leaves. Carbohydrate is needed for the proper functioning of blood clotting, immune system, human development and also fertilization.
Sorrel leaves also contain Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Per serving contains around 238% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin A (known for promoting eye heath and other things) and 113% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C (known for improving immune system and other things).
Besides this, it also can provide around 32% of the recommended daily intake of riboflavin (needed for energy production and other things). There are also lesser amount of iron, thiamin, phosphorus and niacin.
Heath benefits of sorrel leaves (Medical)
What are the benefits of sorrel herb. According to many studies conducted, it was discovered that Sorrel leaves’ extract especially of the Garden sorrel has flavonoids, oligomeric and also polymeric proanthocyanidins.
All these compounds are every much effective in reduction of the HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus) type 1. There are many laboratory testings to back up this fact.
So, it is safe to say that sorrel can help a person suffering from cold sores which is also a very common symptom of herpes along with fever blisters. Based on the numbers of studies and researches that are going on right now to know other benefits of sorrel leaves, soon the world will know about some other medical benefits of this herb.
Free radicals in your body can cause body cells to mutate and a high level of cell mutation can lead to cancerous cells. Sorrel contains antioxidants which help neutralise free radicals(1). Hence can help with preventing cancer. The antioxidants in sorrel are polyphenolic, flavonoids, and anthocyanin.
Vitamin A as been shown to improve eye health and improve eyesight. 100 grams of sorrel has 80% of your recommended amount of Vitamin A daily. This vitamin can act as a antioxidant when combined with other compounds within the body.
Beta-carotene is a derivative of vitamin A. YES the same Beta-carotene found in carrots. Hence the high level of Vitamin A found in sorrel can boost your eyesight and help with degradation of your eyes(2).
Sorrel has a high level of dietary fiber. This can add extra bulk to your food and this helps your food move better through your system. One of the easiest ways to add sorrel to your diet. Hence, add more bulk to the digestive system is to add the herb to soups and salads.
This dietary fiber will help reduce the chances of getting digestive problems. As a example you will have less occurrences of diarrhoea, constipation and bloating. Furthermore added fiber can help reduce cholesterol throughout the body. Which as the added benefit of boosting heart health.
100 grams of sorrel has 13% of your recommended daily amount of Iron. Which is a significant amount for a small quantity of sorrel. Iron increases red blood cells and increases blood flow. Which will then, also increase the oxygen level in the body. This will boost your energy levels. Interestingly this can also prevent iron deficiency or anemia.
Boosts the Immune System
Sorrel has high levels of Vitamin C. In fact 100 grams of sorrel has 80% of your recommended daily amount of Vitamin C. Ascorbic acid/Vitamin C have some amazing health benefits(3).
This is particularly true for your Immune System. Vitamin C helps increase your white blood cells. The white blood cells are your Immune Systems defence against invaders like pathogens.
Benefits of Sorrel for Skin
The dried herb can be eaten this is believed to help with dry itchy skin. The herb can also be used topically. Simply ground up fresh leaves and apply too rashes or irritated skin.
This probably works because of the high content of Vitamin’s A and C. Moreover the nutraceuticals or extra health benefits which are derived from food also play apart.
Sorrel contains potassium which is essential for your health. The reason for this is that potassium is a vasodilator. This helps to relax blood vessels and arteries and hence increases the cardiovascular system. This will also lower your blood pressure which in turn will help your heart health.
Sorrel is a diuretic and as such stimulates urination. This is what cleans the Kidneys out. The act of extra urination helps clear toxins and salts from the Kidney. The best way to take sorrel to detox the Kidneys is to eat dried leaves which are only a couple of days old.
Where can you find sorrel leaves?
During spring time, you can find sorrel leaves in abundance. The leaves will keep on growing from the centre till late fall. But, as mentioned before, it taste best during the early spring only and hence it is quickly harvest as soon as it grows. And this is the reason why one cannot find this herb in market that easily.
So for those who wants a continuous or immediate supply, planting and growing their own sorrel leaves will be the best option. It is actually very easy to grow this particular herb. One only needs to concern themselves with occasional weeding. This perennial happened to grow quite quickly and is winter-resistant. So, basically after planting there is no need to worry about this herb.
Side Effects of Sorrel
Sorrel happens to contain oxalic acid which is the reason behind its unique tart flavor. As oxalic acid is one of the main components of kidney stones, hence it is advised that one who is prone to develop such stones should not consume too much sorrel leaves.
Besides this, too much consumption of sorrel leaves can increase the formation of stomach acid which has a diuretic effect and can worsen or cause heartburn.
When cooking sorrel leaves, one should not use aluminium and cast iron cookware. This is because; if aluminium is used then the acid in the sorrel leaves will allow quantities of aluminum ions to escape from the cookware. Which may be potentially toxic.
On the other hand, the oxalic acid will react with the cast iron and as a result one will end up with inedible and metallic flavor sorrel leaves/preparation.
One must keep these warnings in mind to enjoy all the health benefits of sorrel leaves.