Vegetables

Heart of palm health benefits

The heart of palm is extracted from the interior of the stem of three species of palm trees: the juçara, pupunha and açaí. Popularly known as the “core” of the palm, the heart of palm is a vegetable, since according to plant botany, a legume is the fruits, stems, tubers and roots, and vegetables are the leaves and flowers.

The benefits of heart of palm come from the presence of several minerals and vitamins. Rich in potassium, its consumption helps control blood pressure and heartbeat. It also has calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B and vitamin C, which help to maintain the proper functioning of the body. It is a healthy, natural and low-calorie food. A serving of 100 grams has only 30 calories, and can be consumed without harming the diet for weight loss.

Hearts of palm can be eaten cold with salads or cooked in various recipes and savory fillings, such as pastries and heart of palm pie. As hearts of palm are usually sold in industrialized pickled brine, they contain a significant portion of sodium and should be consumed with caution by people trying to retain fluid. If so, combine it with other foods that balance this retention, avoiding damage to the body.

HEART OF PALM TYPES

As mentioned before, the palm heart can be extracted from the stems of three species of palm trees: juçara, pupunha and açaí. The juçara heart of palm is native to the Atlantic Forest and the heart of palm plant takes 8 to 12 years to produce a quality heart of palm.

The juçara species is born on a single trunk, while others form clumps. The extraction of the juçara heart of palm implies the death of the palm, as its apical meristem is eliminated. In the peach palm and açaí species this does not occur, as the palm tree has sprouts that eat out of the main trunk. Therefore, the species Euterpe edulis (palmito juçara), is at risk of extinction.

The cultivation of peach palm is an alternative to reduce the threat of extinction of the juçara, since it can be extracted after 18 months of planting and does not sacrifice the palm. The preservation of the juçara palm is important for the maintenance of the Atlantic Forest’s biodiversity, since its seed and fruit serves as food for several animals that exist there.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE HEART OF PALM

In supermarkets and fairs, we come across a variety of palm hearts available. Prices of different palm hearts, packaging, add thicker or thinner depending on the crop, soil and climate, and the three types: juçara, açaí and peach palm.

The most sought after and used is the juçara heart of palm, as it is more showy and fleshy, but the peach palm is easier to find fresh. Regardless of the species, they all have the same characteristics, the same shape and the same nutrients.

Whichever type and brand of heart of palm you prefer, try to opt for those that come in glass jars, so that you can check the pieces and the color of the water.

Check the size of the pieces, if they are regular and the layers are uniform and of the same texture. Very thin palm heart means that the correct time for harvesting was not expected and was probably harvested illegally or randomly. Look on the packaging for registration with the Ministry of Health and IBAMA, this means that it has its origins in a planned plantation and is not exploratory.

Do not buy if the lid is crushed or stuffed, nor if the water is colored, white or cloudy, as this could be a sign of contamination. Floating pieces of palm heart mean lack of oxygenation and that it is hard.

HEART OF PALM BENEFITS

The  palm, besides being a tasty food and low in calories, has several essential nutrients for a healthy body. Rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, and vitamin A, vitamin B and vitamin C, the properties of the heart of palm range from improving the proper functioning of the intestine and being a good help in weight loss, strengthening the immune system, even improve blood pressure and heart rate.

– Strengthens the immune system

Heart of palm helps to keep our immune system healthy, responsible for our body’s defenses against flu, colds and even more serious infections, providing vitamin C to our body.

– Helps against heart disease

Heart of palm is a source of potassium and provides the daily amount of this mineral. Potassium is important for heart health as it is able to adjust the rate of heartbeat and regulate blood pressure.

– Acts in favor of the muscles

Heart of palm is a source of Zinc, a mineral essential for muscles, as it helps in the synthesis of proteins. In addition to zinc, palm heart offers 1.8 grams of protein, essential for anabolism.

– Aids in healing

Heart of palm contains zinc, a mineral that helps to accelerate the healing process of both more superficial and deep wounds.

– Improves the functioning of the Digestive System

The fibers present in hearts of palm help improve intestinal transit, relieve discomfort caused by swelling, prevent constipation and even hemorrhoids. Fiber also helps control blood sugar levels, reduce “bad” cholesterol as it controls nutrient absorption.

– Help with weight loss

In addition to being a low-calorie food and thus not harmful when consumed on calorie-restricted diets, heart of palm has fibers that increase satiety time, making the individual take longer to feel hungry and, consequently, consume less food. Fiber also reduces the absorption of fat from the intestine and reduces the feeling of bloating.

– Fertility benefits

Heart of palm is an important source of folic acid for fetal development

– Tonic for the body

The riboflavin present in hearts of palm favors blood composition, as it acts on the production of red cells and strengthens the body as a whole, contributing to well-being and improving performance. It also improves the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

B-complex vitamins improve mood and counteract the effects of depression.

Vitamin C strengthens the body’s defenses and also contributes to better iron absorption.

HEART OF PALM RECIPES

Light and tasty, the heart of palm is a great option to spice up fillings and make salads. It is a low-calorie, high-nutrient option that is beneficial to the overall health of the body. There are several recipes with hearts of palm that can be served on various occasions, from the classic palm heart pie recipes to more refined ones such as the heart of palm risotto, which appeal to the most different tastes.

A practical dish that pleases and pays a lot is the heart of palm pie recipe, which can be made fresh or frozen.

PALMITO FOOT

Pasta

  • 500g of wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 150g of lard
  • 125g of chilled and chopped unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (tea) of ice water
  • 3 gems
  • 1 gem to brush

Palm cream

  • 2 cloves of garlic pounded
  • 1/3 cup (tea) of oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 skinless tomatoes and chopped seeds
  • 1 glass of chopped palm heart (300g)
  • 1 can of drained piece
  • 1/2 cup of chopped green olives
  • 1 cube of chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • Salt, black pepper and pepper sauce to taste
  • 1 cup (tea) of filtered water
  • 2/3 cup (tea) of wheat flour

preparation mode

Dough: in a bowl, place the flour, salt, lard and butter and mix with your hands, crumbling until you get a moist crumb. Add water and egg yolks and knead to obtain a smooth and homogeneous dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 40 minutes.

Cream of palm heart: in a pan, brown the garlic in oil, add the onion and tomato and saute. Then add the remaining ingredients, except the flour, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add the all-purpose flour, stirring constantly until a smooth cream is obtained. Turn off and reserve.

Line the bottom and sides of a pan with 2/3 of the dough and make small holes with a fork. Spread the cream of palm heart over the dough and cover with the rest of the dough. Brush with yolk and bake in a medium oven, preheated, until golden. Remove and serve.

 

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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