Incorporating lemongrass into your regular diet can boost your immunity and help you fight disease. This tasty plant is easy to find in local stores as a whole stalk with roots, or as a convenient paste. With this simple addition to your diet, you can enjoy a delicious lemon flavor that promotes good health.
Health Benefits of Lemongrass
This vitamin and mineral-rich plant contains antioxidants. They boost the immune system, allowing it to work more efficiently in the fight against disease-causing free radicals. When incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, antioxidant-rich foods reduce the risk of diseases. They include some types of cancer. They also provide the immune system support to reduce the risk of common illnesses.
Antioxidants also fight common illnesses like colds and the flu. In some regions, this lemony plant is used to treat cold symptoms. Examples include respiratory congestion, fever, and sore throat. In fact, the plant is often called fever grass in some regions. The reason is that it is commonly used as a medicinal treatment. The antioxidants are also responsible for the plant’s anti-inflammatory action.
Antioxidants may help reduce inflammation to relieve pain, such as the pain associated with chronic arthritis. The anti-inflammatory effect may be in relation to the plant’s ability to reduce cytokine production in the body. Cytokines cause inflammation when they are released.
In this way, the plant is useful for treating infections that cause painful inflammation, such as lung infections. The anti-inflammatory properties are also useful when treating sprains. The plant may reduce pain and swelling.
Antibacterial and Antimicrobial
Lemongrass contains citral oil, an antimicrobial oil that fights fungus and bacteria. It promotes good digestive health. It helps eliminate harmful bacteria and parasites found in the digestive tract. Moreover, one uses it topically to treat conditions like ringworm and athlete’s foot.
Topical preparations are also combined with traditional antibiotics. Thusly, they eliminate Staphylococcus aureus infections on the skin. When used internally, the plant is taken as a tea by steeping the roots in hot water.
The plant contains niacin, a cholesterol-lowering mineral that reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. While the amount of niacin is relatively low, the plant can provide cholesterol-lowering benefits when consumed on a regular basis and as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. To enjoy the benefits of the plant, add it to teas, soups or other dishes.
Nutritional Value of Lemongrass
Lemongrass is high in vitamins and minerals. The plant contains about 0.4 milligrams of iron per teaspoon. It also has trace amounts of folate, zinc, and phosphorus. Other vitamins and minerals in the plant include the following:
- Significant amounts of manganese
- Trace amount of potassium and magnesium
- Vitamin C, an important antioxidant
- B Vitamins, including vitamin B-6 and riboflavin
- Niacin, a B vitamin that helps control cholesterol
The plant has a lemon-like flavor. It is so strong that one often has to use it in smaller amounts of one to two teaspoons for single servings. While the strong flavor may reduce the amount of lemongrass you consume, the trace minerals are significant. They can promote good health when the plant becomes a regular part of your diet.
The uses of lemongrass vary. The stalk and roots commonly go in cooking and preparing teas. To make a simple, but delicious, tea, combine 1 cup of chopped lemongrass stalks with 2 cups of water. Boil the mixture for up to five minutes.
Strain the mixture, add sweetener to taste, and serve the tea over ice. You can skip the sweetener if you prefer a lighter, fresher taste. You can also serve the tea warm to soothe a sore throat. Add flavorings, such as lime or mint leaves, to enhance the lemony flavor.
Uses in Cooking
The stalks and root can go in a variety of dishes. However, they are particularly common in Thai dishes. A simple recipe is to combine the stalks or roots with soy sauce and chilies to flavor protein dishes, such as chicken. The stalks are suitable to use as a replacement for lemon. Remove the stalks before serving the dish, as they are often fibrous.
The root is softer and suitable to eat. However, use it in small amounts to avoid overwhelming other flavors. Another option for cooking with this lemony plant is to use paste. You will find it is available in many ethnic food sections. If you have essential oil, avoid using it in dishes or tea. This product is very concentrated and is not edible.
Essential Oil Uses
Essential oil is typically used in very small amounts. You can combine it with other ingredients, such as carrier oils, to make lotions or creams that one can use topically, or to the skin. You will find this oil in many commercial cosmetics, such as shampoos, lotions, and fragrances.
A simple way to use the essential oil is to combine a few drops with 1 ounce of carrier oil. Apply the mixture to the skin. Avoid direct sun exposure while using it. All citrus oils can increase the risk of sunburn.
The nutritional value of this simple plant makes it one of the best to add to your diet when you want to enjoy better health. However, the vitamins and minerals aren’t the only benefits. This lemony plant is also a delicious addition to teas, soups and main dishes. With lemongrass, you can enjoy better health without sacrificing flavor.