Edible Flowers: Nutritional Properties & Health Effects
While flowers are often thought of as simply a pretty addition to the garden, they can also be a tasty way to give your food an extra boost. Edible flowers can add color and flavor to everything from salads and soups to cocktails and desserts. They’re also packed with nutrients, so here’s why you should start incorporating edible flowers into your diet today!
What are Edible Flowers?
Edible flowers are exactly what they sound like: flowers that can be eaten. While most edible flowers are commonly used as garnishes in food, they also provide a great source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, protein, and iron. The best part is that dried edible flowers can be used just like their fresh counterparts.
Where Can You Get Edible Flowers?
You can find edible flowers at farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and even some convenience stores. You can also order dried flowers online, or if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, now is the time to start planting.
What are the Health Benefits of Eating Edible Flowers?
Eating edible flowers can have several health benefits.
- Edible flowers are a good source of fiber, along with vitamins A, C, and K.
- Edible flowers contain many antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals.
- Edible flowers have been shown to relieve stress and tension in the body.
Nutritional Value of Edible Flowers
Edible flowers are an excellent source of antioxidants, including vitamin C. Let’s take a closer look at how these substances can help you live a healthier life:
- Antioxidants: Edible flowers contain various antioxidants such as vitamin C, carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin), and phenolic compounds. Antioxidants help combat free radicals that can damage cells and contribute to cancer risk. They also may help lower blood pressure by reducing inflammation in blood vessels.
- Vitamin C: Many edible flower varieties are high in vitamin C, including rose, carnation, chamomile, and lavender. Vitamin C is an essential water-soluble vitamin needed for growth and repair throughout life. It acts as an antioxidant, aids iron absorption, boosts immune function, supports connective tissue health, improves wound healing, and reduces postoperative recovery after surgery.
Edible Flowers are Used for Medicinal Purposes
While all edible flowers are pretty and tasty, they are also used for medicinal purposes. For example, many people believe that consuming edible flowers will cure them of illnesses such as bloating or indigestion.
The most popular edible flower in this category is chamomile tea. In addition to its calming effects on the mind, it has been shown to have antibacterial properties as well; research has found that chamomiles can kill up to 90% of E. coli bacteria within 24 hours when applied topically over an infected wound site. This makes chamomile an excellent option for anyone recovering from surgery who needs antibiotics but cannot take them due to their digestive system not being able to handle them well enough yet.
Another example is red clover, one of the most popular edible flowers used for medicinal purposes. Red clover is known for its ability to help reduce inflammation and ease the symptoms of allergies. It’s also been shown to affect pain management and blood pressure control.
Lavender tea is another great example of a flower being used medicinally. It is often used as an antiseptic to treat insomnia, depression, anxiety, and other illnesses.
How to Use Edible Flowers
- Store edible flowers in the refrigerator.
- Blanch some of your edible flowers (dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute) before using them in a recipe or as an ingredient in cocktails. This will help retain their color and prevent discoloration when cooked or added to liquid ingredients.
- Before mixing them with other foods, ensure all traces of pesticides have been removed by soaking your edible flowers in a solution of one part vinegar and nine parts clean water for 20 minutes.
- Always wash your hands before handling any food product, including flower petals and leaves.
Culinary Uses of Edible Flowers
You can use edible flowers in salads, desserts, and drinks. You can also use edible flowers as a garnish on dishes or as an ingredient in sauces. For example, a flower petal could be used to decorate the plate of an entrée, or it could be added to a salad to give it color and flavor.
Top chefs who use edible flowers in cooking claim they have distinct flavors and textures that enhance the food they complement.
To keep your edible flowers fresh, store them in a cool, dry place. You should store them in the refrigerator or a sealed container outside. Be sure to keep the edible flowers away from the sun and heat, as well as moisture and pests.
A Word of Caution When Using Edible Flowers
When using edible flowers, it’s important to pay attention to the condition of their appearance. For example, if a flower is wilted or discolored, don’t use it. Likewise, if the flower has been sprayed with pesticides or treated with chemicals that aren’t intended for food use, you should keep your distance from them.
This is especially true when using them while you’re cooking: You can add edible flowers to salads and desserts, or even cocktails. They add an element of flavor and color that make your meal look festive. Still, they also provide important nutrients like vitamin C and antioxidants, as well as minerals like iron and magnesium, into your diet when eaten regularly.
Edible flowers are a great way to add flavor and color to your dishes. They’re also a good source of vitamins A, C, and K and minerals like iron and calcium. While you might initially be hesitant to try something new in the kitchen, wide varieties are available that go beyond just adding some color. So don’t let them intimidate you; instead, give them a try next time you’re cooking or dining out at an upscale restaurant.