Are you looking for healthy additions to your diet? Do you want to know about an excellent alternative to spinach? You have come to the right place! This post lists details, nutritional and health benefits of Orach, which is a little-known member of the spinach family. Want to know more? Keep reading.
Orach, also known as Saltbush, is an organic super food that contains loads of nutritional benefits. It grows in salty soil, where most other vegetables cannot sustain. This is one of the primary reasons it is also called ‘saltbush’. This leafy, green vegetable, replete with a unique aroma and taste can be used in your diet. The name ‘Orach’ is used to denote the Atriplex genus – which contains over 250 distinct species of plants. The species can store salt in leaves (1) and that is how it can sustain in saline environments.
Nuances Of Orach:
While Orach is a native of the Alps, you can also find it in various other regions, including Northeast Asia, the Middle East, Southern Europe and North Africa. This vegetable is available in different colours like yellowish gold, red and green. Unlike spinach, this vegetable can be grown in warm weather conditions. Some species can grow up to 6 feet tall while there are others that stop at just 2 feet. You can grow Orach in your garden or backyard just like any other potted plant. Ensure that you eat it when the plant becomes a foot tall.
Nutritional Content In Orach:
A lot of people are unaware of Orach and its immense nutritional benefits. Owing to its plethora of nutrients, people of all age groups can consume Orach. It contains the following nutrients:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Dietary fibre
Apart from the aforementioned vitamins, essential minerals and other nutrients, Orach is also a rich source of anti-oxidants (2). It is devoid of any harmful fat as well, making it a super food that can boost your health and immunity.
Health Benefits Offered By Orach:
The major health benefits of Orach are listed below:
1. Enhanced Digestive System:
A lot of adults and kids suffer from digestion-related issues these days. A problem in digestion causes constipation and paves the way for various health complications in the long run. Rather than buying digestive supplements, you can buy and eat Orach for improving the digestion process in your body. The vegetable contains a liberal amount of dietary fibre. Eating fibre-rich foods eliminates problems in digestion (3). This regulates bowel movements and brings down chances of various gastrointestinal problems.
2. Immunity Booster:
A weakened immune system often paves the way for various viruses and bacteria to attack your body and cause multiple infections and ailments. People with weak immunity fall prey to such infections and diseases quite often. Eating Orach can be helpful if you want to strengthen the immunity level. Its high vitamin C content can be useful in this regard (4). You will be surprised to know that Orach contains more vitamin C than what you get in citrus fruits. Vitamin C also plays a pivotal role in wound healing and cell regeneration.
3. Metabolic Efficiency Boost:
Eating Orach can help in boosting metabolic efficiency in your body. Its iron and calcium helps enhance red blood cell production. This ensures the organs get an adequate supply of oxygen through blood circulation. In the long run, this helps enhance metabolic efficiency in the body.
4. Enhanced Functioning Of Kidneys:
Kidneys are among the major organs in your body that play a vital role in detoxification and elimination of waste materials (5). They filter the waste in the body and generate urine so that these can be discarded from the body. Eating Orach can enhance urine generation as it serves as a natural diuretic. It helps the kidneys produce more urine and thus, excess salts and toxins get out of the body. So, consumption of Orach can help your kidneys perform optimally.
5. Fights Free Radicals And Cancer:
Orach is loaded with antioxidants like anthocyanins and carotenes. These antioxidants help your body fight the damages triggered by free radicals. Your cells and organs get protection from oxidative stress. This can help keep various forms of cancer at bay by stopping specific cell mutations. Moreover, eating antioxidant-rich food can be beneficial for cardiac health and various age-related degenerative ailments (6).
6. Fights Blood Pressure Anomalies:
Orach contains a decent amount of potassium that is required by the human body for various functionalities. Eating potassium-rich foods can be helpful for regulating elevated blood pressure levels by keeping sodium levels in the blood within limits. Potassium also acts as a natural vasodilator that facilitates the smoother flow of blood in the veins and arteries (7).
7. Helps You Lose Excess Weight:
Orach can surely be added to your diet if you are on a weight loss mission. Its high quotient of dietary fibre facilitates waste elimination from the body. Eating fibre-rich foods help you stay full for a long time. This eliminates the prospect of feeling hunger pangs and resultant binge eating. This helps when you are adhering to a specific diet and calorie count matters! While it is no miracle food for weight loss, Orach can help you stick to your weight loss goals.
8. Enhances Bone Health:
With old age, the problems of bone density loss and weakening takes place. This can affect both genders, but women are more prone to it. Intake of calcium-rich foods and supplements can help such individuals fight bone problems. Orach contains calcium and magnesium, which ensure your bones become stronger over time.. You will be able to thwart bone ailments like osteoporosis. The vitamin K present in this vegetable also helps enhance bone health (8).
9. Helps Fight Anaemia:
The human body requires iron for red blood cell formation and oxygen supply to various body parts. Intake of Orach, which is replete with iron, can help you fight conditions that lead to anaemia.
10. Helps Vision And Fights Eye Ailments:
Eating Orach can be beneficial for your vision, and you will be able to fight ailments affecting eyesight as well. This is owing to the high amount of vitamin A offered by this vegetable. Its antioxidants also help your body fight vision-related ailments like macular degeneration.
11. Helps In Blood Clotting:
Blood clotting is essential for survival and without it, life-threatening situations may develop. Vitamin K plays a pivotal role in blood clotting in the human body (9). Orach is replete with Vitamin K and eating it can help you resolve clotting related problems. You may start eating it prior to undergoing any surgery or operation to minimize any issues with clotting.
12. Source Of Phosphorus:
The human body requires phosphorus for executing several key activities (10). These include hormones and enzymes production and balanced pH level in the body. Phosphorus also plays a role in ATP production. ATP is the prerequisite for giving energy to the cells in your body. Orach is rich in phosphorus and by eating it, you can stay energetic and bolster several body functions.
13. Source Of Protein:
The human body requires protein for letting several physiological activities take place (11). While you can obtain protein from various animal sources, intake of animal meat also leads to unhealthy fat absorption by the body. If you want a vegetarian source of protein that does not have harmful fats, Orach is an ideal option.
14. Helps Fight Skin Ailments And Controls Enzyme Generation:
Orach contains zinc, a mineral that plays a vital role in improving skin health and appearance. For instance, zinc is useful for fighting skin conditions like acne and pimples. Zinc also boosts collagen production and hence it helps you retain a firmer skin texture. Without zinc intake, various enzyme productions in your body will be affected adversely (12).
15. Fights Cognitive Loss And Thyroid Issues:
Studies have indicated that selenium deficit is linked with a decline in memory in the elderly lot (13). While a lot of factors can contribute to memory loss, lack of selenium is one factor. Selenium also helps the thyroid gland function optimally, and this is found in the highest concentration in this gland in the human body. Orach is rich in selenium and by eating it, you can evade such disorders in the long run.
Ways To Cook Orach:
You may be surprised to know that not all variants of Orach taste the same. There are variations in taste, with some variants having a tangy taste like chard. You can prepare Orach in many ways and replace spinach in dishes for both breakfast and meals easily. The variant known as ‘Atriplex hortensis’ is the most widely used for culinary purposes. After facing a decline in popularity owing to large scale use of spinach, Orach has slowly started regaining lost ground in the Mediterranean region.
Listed below are a few ways that you can use for consumption of Orach:
- Salad : Orach can be used in lieu of spinach in a number of salads. Its flavour gels well with most vegetables and you can add a nice texture to mundane vegetable salads by adding it. You can use both raw and steamed Orach in the salad. The baby Orach leaves have teardrop shapes and they can be used for decorations on large salad bowls. You may sprinkle some extra virgin olive oil on top of Orach leaves for adding to the taste. Orach leaves also go well with most fruit salads too!
- Soups And Stews : You may use Orach leaves with a wide range of vegetable soups and stews. You can also add it on top of chicken soups.
- Orach Green Sauce : When you are tired of using the same old tomato or soya sauce for snacks or main dishes, try making Orach green sauce at home. You can make it by adding Orach leaves to garlic, celery, lemon juice and arugula. Blend everything well and the tangy sauce is ready. You can serve this with various snacks.
- Other Uses : You can be a little creative and use Orach leaves in many other ways for cooking. For example, you can use it to make vegetable noodles and pasta. You can also browse online for various innovative, tasty and uncommon recipes using Orach leaves. When you steam or boil the leaves, ensure that you do not cook them on high heat and for a long time. Doing so will spoil some of its nutrients. Sautéing and boiling for a few minutes is the best option to get the nutritional benefits.
Cautions To Keep In Mind:
There is no clearly documented evidence of Orach consumption leading to major health issues and side effects. You need to be careful about the following factors:
- Just like spinach, Orach has oxalic acid in it. Consumption of oxalic acid results in crystal formation in the body and so people afflicted with kidney stones (14)or gout should not eat this vegetable. If you are afflicted with such conditions, seek medical advice regarding safety and viability of eating Orach.
- If you eat Orach raw, like in salads, ensure that you wash it well before use – preferably in warm water. This will reduce risk of any bacterial contamination. Try to procure fresh and organic variants, if available.
There is not much information about the possibility of Orach interacting with different medications. However, it contains Vitamin K, which helps blood clot. So, people who are taking blood-thinning medications should seek medical advice before eating this leafy vegetable for safety.
Orach is safe for consumption and can boost your health and keep you feeling fit and healthy. Though Orach, does have an acquired flavour, with some ingenuity you can easily combine this super food in your daily diet, to reap the many health benefits it has to offer.
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