Fiber, Vitamin C & potassium: salsify

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It is the end of 2018 and with it comes reflection and renewal.

2018 taught me a lot about how nature provides the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need and that each season produces something new and yummy. It also taught me that there are many foods I knew nothing about and many I still have a lot to learn about.

It taught me that when you eat seasonal, you waste less. You waste less because you tend to buy what you need and its freshness gives it a longer shelf life. The food is fresher when it is seasonal. Fresher food also has a greater nutrient and mineral impact on your body.

2018 taught me that the road to health is about eating, not depriving. SO many commercials promoted a healthy gut, the only problem, the side-effects can often be worse than the cure. Yet food can cure. Each of us responds differently so it is important to listen to our bodies. But our bodies respond wonderfully when we feed it nutrient rich foods. Most commercialized food lacks the nutrients our bodies need. As a result, we suffer.

In 2018, I have learned there are certain nutrients and minerals our bodies need; and an important body part to keep healthy is our gut. Many are now calling it our second brain.

“When it comes to the bacteria in our gut, every time we eat, we are feeding somebody. Unfortunately, the modern industrialized diet is all too often feeding the bad guys and, just as important, starving the good.

To put it simply, “bad” bacteria tend to feed on sugar and unhealthy fats (yes, I’m talking about you, junk food!). And the single most important nutrient that good bacteria need to thrive inside you is fiber.

When they have plenty of fiber, they can do their job — and your digestion, mental function, and even your mood reap the benefits. It’s clear that fiber is

critical to gut health. But less than 5% of Americans get the recommended 25 to 30 grams per day.”

2018 taught me a lot about the food I eat and foods to add to my plate.

So 2019 will be about experimenting, exploration and discovery. And salsify will be a root vegetable that I will be adding to my stews along with trying out new recipes.

I am only at the beginning of my food and health revolution. I look forward to having you participate in our series moving forward. To that end, please comment with what you would like to learn in 2019. Or how I can help? I want to hear from you!

DID YOU KNOW?! Salsify is a root vegetable and also known as the “vegetable oyster.”

“Salsify (actually pronounced “SAL-se-fee”) hails from the Mediterranean, where ancient Greeks and Romans harvested the roots for both food and medicine. Through the Middle Ages and up until the last century, this vegetable was a common sight in both Europe and the United States. However, with the advent of refrigeration, people started using vegetables that were more difficult to preserve and the once popular salsify faded into obscurity.

This plant comes in two different varieties: black salsify and white salsify. Throughout history, it has gone by many names, including purple goat’s beard and vegetable oyster. To this day, you’ll often see black salsify referred to as scorzonera. But it’s not exactly pretty; so many people may pass right by this vegetable without giving it much thought.

So what, exactly, is salsify? Tragopogon porrifolius is a long, thin root vegetable that looks similar to a medium or large carrot or parsnip. Black salsify is immediately recognizable by its dark, nearly black, smooth skin while white salsify has brown or tan skin and is more “hairy.” Both varieties have white flesh that looks similar to a turnip. In the garden, salsify makes an excellent bedding or background plant. The greens, which are also edible, look like tufts of coarse grass, and they grow up to three feet tall. As a member of the dandelion family, salsify has dusky pink to purple

blooms that look something like a cross between a daisy and a dandelion. And, just like dandelions, the flowers turn into white puffs when they go to seed.”

DID YOU KNOW?! Salsify is good for you.

DID YOU KNOW?! Salsify is a good source of fiber.

“Dietary fiber helps keep the digestive system running without problems. Salsify contains a combination of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, which helps to encourage bowel movements. When ingested, it helps the body absorb nutrients from the food by slowing digestion making it beneficial to constipation as it regulates the water content of stool and can add bulk to the stool and helps keep waste moving in the intestines. It may even prevent colon cancer, and may also neutralize some harmful gases that are released into the body by minimizing the time waste spends in contact with the healthy cells of the colon.”

DID YOU KNOW?! Salsify is a good source of vitamin C.

“Vitamin C is well known to reduce your risk of infections when taken during flu season, preventing pathogens from damaging cells and tissues. The large amount of vitamin C present in salsify helps enhance the immune system. When there is an accumulation of Vitamin C in phagocytic cells, the process of phagocytosis is enhanced and there is enhanced destruction of harmful microbes. On the other hand, a deficiency of vitamin C may lead to impaired immunity and an individual is faced with a higher susceptibility to infections. Vitamin C is necessary, as the body is unable to produce it on its own.” “It also helps the human body maintain healthy connective tissue, teeth, and gum.”

DID YOU KNOW?! Salsify can help with weight loss.

“Although exercise and physical activity is regarded as one of the best ways to lose weight, foods rich in fiber also do their fair share in helping out. Salsify is rich in fiber, which aids weight loss by helping control insulin spikes and improving satiety. Plus, salsify is low in calories, making it an ideal diet food.”

DID YOU KNOW?! Salsify can help maintain healthy skin.

“Salsify contains highly effective nutrients like vitamin A and C which can help to eradicate signs of aging, and preserve your youthful appearance for years to come. The skin starts showing aging signs when there is a deficiency of collagen in the body, or as a result of excessive oxidative processes ongoing in the body. Salsify can help to improve collagen synthesis in order to maintain skin elasticity; structure, strength and color, by virtue of its vitamin c content, which also assists in the fight against diseases and helps to replace dead cells that are not useful to the skin. These effects result in a net improvement to the appearance of skin, leaving you radiant and youthful.”

DID YOU KNOW?! Salsify is good for your bones.

“Salsify contains a high amount of calcium, copper and magnesium, dietary minerals that are vital for support and growth of bone tissue. With the help of these minerals, salsify is effective in preventing problems related to bones, such as osteoporosis. Regular intake of salsify, according to research, may even prevent arthritis which occurs when the connective tissue attached to bones begin to degrade and painful bone rubbing on bone friction occurs. Vitamin C supports the synthesis of collagen, which is a key component of connective tissue found in joints.”

DID YOU KNOW?! Salsify is a good source of potassium.

Salsify provides 15% of our daily recommended amount. Potassium is an electrolyte. “Potassium is one of the most important minerals in the body. It helps regulate fluid balance, muscle contractions and nerve signals. What’s more, a high-potassium diet

may help reduce blood pressure and water retention, protect against stroke and prevent osteoporosis and kidney stones.”

How exciting is this! Salsify is a treasure trove of nutrients.

For recipes, check out:  https://coquinaria.nl/en/black-salsify-with-parsley-sauce/ (an 18th century dish – sounds delish); or https://www.greatbritishchefs.com/ingredients/salsify-recipes; or https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/09/salsify-recipes-hugh-fearnley-whittingstall.

If you are interested in adding it to your garden, check out: https://www.growveg.com/guides/unusual-roots-how-to-grow-salsify-and-scorzonera/; or https://harvesttotable.com/how_to_grow_salsify/; or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D0gJMcq8I0.

Until next year, happy eating and Happy New Year!

Hugs,
Elizabeth

 

References: 

1. https://foodrevolution.org/blog/gut-health/ and https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health
2. https://www.farmersalmanac.com/what-the-heck-is-salsify-21927
3. https://www.livealittlelonger.com/health-benefits-of-black-salsify/
4. https://www.naturalfoodseries.com/11-benefits-salsify/
5. https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/salsify.html
6. https://visihow.com/Lose_Weight_with_Black_Salsify
7. https://www.eatthismuch.com/food/nutrition/salsify,2156/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxXZh0uCPPo
8. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-potassium-do

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