You may have eaten hearts of palm or may have seen it in recipes of food magazines, and not even known it. Or maybe, you have stumbled upon them, either fresh or canned jarred in the grocery store and wondered, what’s the deal with this vegetable? Well, the hearts of palm is a healthy vegetable that can help promote digestive health, food for weight loss, boost your immune system and many more.
What is a Hearts of Palm?
Hearts of palm are vegetables that have been enjoyed by Southern and Central American people for thousands of years, although it is relatively new to much of the US. As the name implies, hearts of palm come from, the heart, or middle, of a palm tree. The outer bark of certain species of palm trees can be stripped away to reveal the inner, edible core, which is the heart of the palm.
Hearts of palm have a mild flavor similar to artichokes and a crunchy texture. Besides being tasty, there is a slew of health benefits to this vegetable, including:
- High Fiber
- High Protein
- Cholesterol Free
- Low Calories/Carbs/Fat
- Various Nutrients & Minerals
- High Manganese
What are the Health Benefits?
Because of the high protein content of this vegetable, they are a useful substitute for vegetarians, vegans, and any health-conscious individuals who are looking to cut out fatty proteins from their lives.
This vegetable is also ideal for anyone trying to lose weight. As anyone who has dieted before knows, cutting calories or carbs is an ineffective way to lose weight as it leaves one feeling constantly hungry, which inevitably results in overeating. This veggie is a solution to this problem as it is low in calories while also being high in protein and fiber. This combination leaves one feeling full and satisfied.
Additionally, this food is high in manganese, a mineral proven to aid in bone development and maintenance. One single cup of it has over 100 percent of the recommended daily dose of manganese.
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.
How Do I Eat Hearts of Palm?
There are a variety of ways to prepare this versatile vegetable. They can be eaten raw, which makes it an easy snack or a simple ingredient to toss into any dish. Chopping them and adding them to a salad seems to be a favorite for many people.
Hearts of palm can also be baked, seared, or steamed. Cutting the vegetable into ringlets and searing them with spices is a popular vegan alternative to calamari.
Where Does It Come From and Where Can I Buy It?
The palm trees from which hearts of palm are farmed are native to Central and Southern America, with many of the world’s export of the vegetable coming from Costa Rica. The Sabal Palm, which also contains the heart of palm, can be found in Florida, where it is affectionately called “swamp cabbage.”
Fresh hearts of palm in the United States are only found in Florida. For everyone else, the canned version is available at your local grocery store.