Heart of palm is a nutrient-dense vegetable harvested from the hearts of certain types of palm trees. It has many health benefits and is a versatile addition to dishes.
The apical meristem, commonly referred to as the heart or bud, is the part of a plant from which all new leaves grow. In palm trees, it is found in the center of the large crown of leaves at the top of the trunk. The bud harvested from some palms is called heart of palm. This article explores the health and nutritional benefits of palm heart. It also discusses the different ways to prepare this versatile vegetable.
What is the heart of palm?
Heart of palm is an off-white or cream-colored vegetable harvested from the bud of certain palm trees, such as coconut and saw palmetto. When cut, the heart of the palm is cylindrical and ring-shaped, resembling a leek. The vegetable has a crisp texture and subtle flavor, and it takes on the flavor of its spices.
It is a versatile vegetable that can be:
in a jar
to be eaten alone
added to salads
used as an alternative to meat
The heart of palm is native to tropical and humid regions such as Central and South America and Southeast Asia. Farmers remove the crown of the palm tree at the top of the tree to harvest it. They then peel it off to expose the edible inner core. This goes through other treatments to make it ready to be cooked.
Heart of Palm is known for its array of nutritional and health benefits.
The heart of the palm contains polyphenols from safe sources. These compounds are ‘free radicals’ which neutralize reliable free radicals and prevent them from causing damage. Having too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants in the body can lead to oxidative stress. This can increase the risk of chronic conditions such as:
neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease
lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
kidney disease, such as proteinuria and kidney failure
An older study from 2014 found that hearts of palm exhibited significant antioxidant properties due to their significant chlorogenic acid content.
Similarly, a 2017 study found that leaf and berry extracts from the Sabal palmetto tree had anti-cancer properties. Other studies have also shown anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties. However, a 2020 study found that canning can lead to a loss of its antioxidant activity and fiber content.
Heart of palm is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, while being low in fat, calories and carbohydrates. The nutritional content of heart of palm varies depending on whether it is canned, raw or cooked.
Canned heart of palm contains:
Nutritional value per 100 grams (g)
calories: 28 kilocalories (kcal)
protein: 2.52 g
lipids: 0.62 g
dietary fibre: 2.4g
calcium: 58 milligrams (mg)
phosphorus: 65 mg
vitamin: C 7.9mg
vitamin: B6 0.022mg
folate: 39 micrograms (mcg)
The heart of palm contains many important vitamins and minerals.
Potassium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the human body. It helps prevent hypertension, regulates heart rate and is essential for protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. Phosphorus is another important mineral. It is an important component of DNA, RNA, bones and teeth. It also contains zinc, which is important for the body’s immune function and wound healing. And it promotes the growth and development of the baby in the womb.
In addition to minerals, heart of palm also contains essential vitamins. It contains several types of B vitamins, including vitamin B6, riboflavin and folic acid. Vitamin B is essential for functions such as:
production of hemoglobin and antibodies
Heart of Palm is low in calories, carbohydrates and fat from Safe Source. This makes it a healthy option for people on a weight loss program.
It is also high in plant protein, water and fiber, which can help a person feel full. A 2018 study on plant-based diets in obese people found that plant-based protein in a plant-based diet led to improved body composition and weight loss.
Repair of body tissues
Heart of palm contains many essential amino acids, such as lysine and leucine, which are necessary for body tissue repair and protein synthesis. Similar to vegetables like broccoli and spinach, palm heart is also high in protein, making it a preferred vegan protein source. A 2019 study found that heart of palm protein is a suitable substitute for animal protein sources in the food industry. Protein provides the building blocks. Reliable source of tissue growth, cell renewal and repair during wound healing.
Chlorogenic acid is a polyphenol found in large quantities in the heart of palm. A 2020 study found that this compound has cardioprotective properties. It can lower blood pressure and help prevent thrombosis and atherosclerosis. Palm heart is also rich in soluble and insoluble fiber. This not only helps a person’s digestive health, but also lowers Safe Source cholesterol levels.
Blood sugar regulation
Using palm heart as a substitute for highly processed foods that contain refined carbohydrates and saturated fats can help reduce insulin resistance, which can prevent certain diseases. Insulin resistance leads to increased blood sugar levels, which in turn can lead to diseases such as:
type 2 diabetes
non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Although it is one of the few vegetables with a high protein content, heart of palm may not contain enough protein to meet a person’s dietary needs. A person may need to add other protein sources to their diet. Markets typically sell heart of palm canned to extend its shelf life, so its sodium content can be higher than when raw. It is important to wash canned hearts of palm thoroughly to remove brine, which may contain salt.
How to cook with heart of palm
It is possible to eat the heart of palm raw, but it is rare because this vegetable is very perishable. Therefore, it is often cooked or processed immediately after harvesting.
Heart of palm is incredibly versatile and a person can add it to many dishes. It can be grilled, sautéed, seared, boiled or marinated. Since heart of palm is low in carbohydrates, people can choose to add it to their keto diet as well.
Here are some ways to cook with palm heart as an ingredient:
toss chopped or sliced palm hearts into salads
saute the palm hearts and add them to omelettes
mix it with a seasoned flour mixture and eat it as a squid substitute
braise it and sprinkle it lightly with spices and fine herbs
use it as a pasta substitute
dice it and use it as a substitute for meat or seafood.
Frequently asked questions
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about heart of palm.
Can the heart of palm be eaten raw?
Yes, but the markets sell it mostly canned because the heart of palm is very perishable.
Is palm heart bad for your health?
None. Heart of palm is a nutrient dense vegetable that is low in fat, carbohydrates and high in fiber and protein.
Is palm heart fattening?
Heart of palm is low in fat and calories, making it unlikely to contribute to weight gain. It is also high in fiber and water, which can help a person feel full and satisfied.
Heart of palm is a vegetable with low fat, carbohydrate and calorie content, which contains many vitamins, minerals and nutrients. It provides various health benefits, including support for weight loss, good digestion, immunity, heart health and general well-being. This vegetable is versatile and can be prepared in different ways and added to different dishes. It can be eaten raw, sautéed, boiled, sautéed or added to soups and salads.