Hearts of Palm: A Healthy Superfood From the Tropical Jungle

 

Hearts of palm are the newest rage in health food; you will find them everywhere, from on top of salads to turned into noodles and used as an alternative to regular pasta. Besides their pleasant taste, there are many health benefits to consuming hearts of palm, which is undoubtedly driving their rise to superfood stardom.


History of Hearts of Palm


Hearts of palm are a historical part of the diet of many indigenous and traditional people, from the deep Amazon forest to the island of Jamaica. There are actually several different trees that the heart of palm comes from, but they are all related and produce an almost exactly similar product. This product is a fibrous but fleshy heart that many local people consider almost like "tree meat." And, as we are about to see, that is a very accurate description.


Hearts of Palm Are High in Protein


Vegetarians often struggle to get enough protein in their diet, meaning heart of palm could be an absolute game-changer in the plant-based food movement. According to WebMD, heart of palm is a "rich source" of protein that contains all nine essential amino acids. These essential amino acids are important for building muscle and organ tissue and cannot be made by your body, so they need to be consumed in food. Very few vegetables contain all nine of these essential amino acids, so the heart of palm joins the rank of other superfoods like quinoa and buckwheat as a complete source of protein.


Hearts of Palm Are a Low-Calorie, High-Fiber Food


Experts agree that one of the ways to keep a healthy body weight is to consume fewer calories. One of the best ways to do that is to consume foods that make you feel full but are low in caloric value. According to Livestrong, hearts of palm contain only 41 calories per cup, yet that cup contains nearly 4 grams of plant fiber. This creates a "bulky" feeling in your stomach, so you don't want to eat as much, yet it only really gives you a small amount of the calories that pack on unwanted weight.


What Nutrients Do Hearts of Palm Contain?


Besides being high in protein and fiber and low in calories, hearts of palm are also packed with life-giving nutrients. According to WebMD, one serving of heart of palm contains over 62% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin B6. It is also a good source of calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin C. Vitamin B6 plays an integral part in heart, brain, and nervous system health and a key role in breaking down proteins. It is another compound often hard to obtain in a vegetarian diet, making heart of palm even more attractive as part of a plant-based diet.


How To Prepare Hearts of Palm


While in the jungle many people simply eat heart of palm fresh, it needs to be canned or otherwise preserved before it is shipped around the world. Our heart of palm product is pickled, which preserves its crispy fresh crunch and light, hearty flavor while giving it a pinch of brown sugar sweetness and pickled goodness. These hearts of palm can be cooked right into pasta and soups or eaten straight out of the jar — try them wrapped in jam or cheese for a delicious appetizer. 

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