– Hearts of Palm –
The heart of palm is a white vegetable obtained from the center of specific varieties of palm trees. It’s prized for its culinary versatility. This article explains all you need to know about the heart of the palm, including its nutrients, potential health benefits, and ways to add it to your diet.
The heart of palm is the delicious, crunchy vegetable harvested from the center of the cabbage palm tree. Though they resemble white asparagus, the flavor is much more delicate, making them extremely versatile.
What are Hearts of Palm
Hearts of palm are cut from the core of a handful of palm tree species native to South and Central America. After harvesting, they are cut into cylinders or sliced into rings and packed in water or brine.
They look like smooth, thick white asparagus spears and are often said to taste like artichokes. The delicate flavor of hearts of palm makes them a popular choice for salads, but they can also be braised, fried, or boiled.
Hearts of Palm Nutrition Facts
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1/2 cup (73g) of canned hearts of palm with added sodium.
- Calories: 20
- Fat: 0.5g
- Sodium: 311mg
- Carbohydrates: 3.4g
- Fiber: 1.8g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 1.8g
Hearts of palm provide just 3.4 grams of carbohydrates per serving, most of which is an attribute to their fiber content. Out of the 3.4 grams of carbs, 1.8 grams come from fiber.
Hearts of palm are naturally very low in fat, though they may be canned or jar with added fat.
Per 1/2 cup serving, hearts of palm provide 1.8 grams of protein.
Vitamins and Minerals
Hearts of palm are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, iron, potassium, copper, phosphorus, and zinc.
If you purchase canned or jarred hearts of palm, check the label for added sodium. Also in the USDA nutrition data above, there are 311 milligrams per serving, which is over 13% of the daily recommended value for most people.
Rinsing canned or jarred foods under running water can help reduce their sodium content. Raw hearts of palm, on the other hand, naturally contain very little sodium (about 14mg per 100-gram serving)
Due to its nutrient content, heart of palm may offer several health benefits.
High in Antioxidants
Heart of palm is rich in plant compounds like polyphenol antioxidants.
These compounds neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can trigger oxidative damage when levels become too high in your body. Oxidative damage is linked to numerous diseases.
In turn, antioxidants may reduce your risk of certain conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Diets high in polyphenols are also associated with reduced inflammation, which is thought to be a key factor in many of these ailments.
May Enhance Brain Function in Seniors
Elderly adults are at a higher risk of malnutrition due to various factors that may include a reduction in appetite and limited access to a variety of foods. This can lead to undetected nutrient deficiencies, contributing to cognitive decline. One such nutrient is vitamin B6.
Although the majority of people get adequate amounts of this vitamin, several studies demonstrate an association between poor B6 status and impaired brain function in seniors. Hearts of palm are a convenient way to increase the intake of vitamin B6 through diet.
Loaded with Essential Minerals
Heart of palm is a plentiful source of several minerals, including potassium, copper, phosphorus, and zinc. Potassium serves as an electrolyte and helps regulate blood pressure. Increased intake is linked to lower blood pressure in healthy individuals.
Alongside iron, copper aids in the formation of red blood cells. In addition, it helps maintain nerve cells and immune function. As low copper levels are associated with high cholesterol and blood pressure, proper intake may help prevent these conditions.
Meanwhile, phosphorus promotes strong bones and teeth. Your body also uses it to make proteins that grow and repair cells and tissues. Finally, zinc aids immune function, cell division, and wound healing.
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Helps Prevent Iron-Deficiency Anemia
The hearts of palms are a natural source of iron and vitamin C. For vegetarians or anyone who is reducing their meat consumption, pairing vitamin C with iron-rich plant foods is a key way to increase your iron absorption and prevent anemia.6
In addition to vegetarians, pregnant women, women of child-bearing age, and young children are at particular risk for iron-deficiency anemia. Including the hearts of palms on your plate can help reduce this risk.
May Aid Weight Loss
Heart of palm may promote weight loss, as it contains minimal amounts of fat and only 36 calories and 4 grams of carbs per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving.
As weight loss requires eating fewer calories than you burn on a daily basis, replacing high-calorie items with this veggie may aid your efforts.
Due to its high water and fiber content, the heart of palm may also promote feelings of fullness — which can naturally lead you to eat less. For example, chopping the heart of palm into salads or stir-fries can bulk up your dish without adding excessive calories.
How Do I Eat Hearts of Palm?
Heart of palm usually comes either jarred or canned, though it’s available fresh on occasion. If you can’t find it at a specialty market or your local grocery store, try shopping for it online.
It’s most commonly included in salads, though it can be added to several other dishes, such as dips, stir-fries, and ceviche — a South American dish made of marinated seafood.
It can also be eaten on its own or grilled and season to make a unique appetizer. Vegetarians and vegans often use heart of palm as a meat or seafood substitute, as it provides a similar texture, though it should be noted that it’s not a good source of protein.
Still, it makes excellent vegan carnitas, calamari, lobster rolls, and fish sticks.
Are There Risks?
The highest risk associated with eating this vegetable is that it is not uncommon for people to be allergic to them. If you have a palm oil allergy, expect to be allergic to the heart of the palm. If symptoms occur, see a doctor right away.
A less severe drawback to the inside of a palm tree is its high sodium content. While the vegetable itself does not contain any sodium, it is generally found canned in North America.
Like most canned products, a surplus of salt is added during the canning process to preserve the food; however, a simple rinse can get rid of most of the excess sodium.
Storage and Food Safety
Canned hearts of palm can be stored for an extended period of time in your cabinets or pantry until you’re ready to use them. Once opened, keep leftovers in the refrigerator in a different, airtight container.
Fresh hearts of palm should be refrigerated right away for use within 1–2 weeks. As with any fresh vegetable, wash hearts of palm under running water before prepping or eating them.
1. Can hearts of palm be use in soups or creams?
Yes actually there are several recipes for soups or creams made with hearts of palm but you can also find hearts of palm creams already made.
2. Are hearts of palm an appropriate food if you’re on a diet?
Yes, in fact, hearts of palm help you avoid overeating.
3. Can hearts of palm be cooked?
Yes hearts of palm can be cooked and use in many delicious recipes.
Heart of palm is a white vegetable harvested from palm trees. Common in salads and dips, it’s also a popular vegan meat replacement.
Its rich supply of minerals and antioxidants offers several potential health benefits, such as disease prevention and weight loss. As it’s easy to find canned or jarred varieties, you can try adding this unique ingredient to your diet today.
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