Alugbati, otherwise known as “Malabar Spinach”, is not really a spinach at all, although it tastes of such when cooked. This green vegetable with the heart-shaped green leaves and red or purple stems is highly popular eaten raw for salads, or cooked in soups and other delectable dishes.
According to Wikipedia, Alugbati’s scientific name is Basella alba of the edible perennial vine in the family Basellaceae. Native to the Philippines, it can be found in tropical Asia and Africa, as well as the Indian Subcontinent – where it is thought to have originated from, China, New Guinea, Brazil, Colombia, Belize, Fiji, West Indies, and French Polynesia.
Alugbati is commonly known in other parts of the world by different names, such as Malabar Spinach, climbing spinach, vine spinach, Ceylon spinach, red vine spinach, buffalo spinach, etc.
A Powerhouse of Nutritional Goodness
Alugbati also packs a lot of nutritional value in its leaves and stems. It has high iron and potassium content which means it can power up your day and help maintain important bodily functions such as your heart rate and blood pressure. For every 100 grams eaten of alugbati leaves, you avail yourself of the following nutrients:
- Calories: 19
- Protein: 1.8 g
- Fat: 0.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 3.4 g
- Vitamin A: 160%
- Vitamin B6: 10%
- Vitamin C: 170%
- Potassium: 510 mg
- Iron: 6%
- Magnesium: 16%
- Calcium: 10%
- Sodium: 24 mg
Health benefits of Alugbati
Most people eat the leaves but some people, like here in the Philippines, include the stems as long as they are not too hard yet. Here are some of the health benefits from consuming alugbati:
Just like other kinds of vegetables, Alugbati is super rich with antioxidants necessary to fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are the ones responsible for causing damage to cells, DNA, and proteins – the building blocks to the development of cancer. Alugbati prevents the growth of cancer cells in the lungs and oral cavities.
A previous research discovered that alugbati is high in Vitamin C – the important vitamin for boosting one’s immunity. Vegetables high in Vitamin C also are good for fighting against infectious agents – and alugbati definitely fits the bill!
The leaves of the alugbati are similar in terms of nutrient content with that of spinach. Like spinach, they’re rich in iron. One hundred grams of alugbati leaves consumed per day is able to fulfill 15you’re your daily needs for iron. With regular consumption of alugbati, one can protect oneself from developing anemia.
Controls blood pressure
Alugbati is also rich in the minerals potassium and manganese which are beneficial for the management of blood pressure and heart rate. Thereby, it is known to prevent heart disease as well.
The excretion system is important to the release of toxins out of the body. Alugbati has the innate ability to release these toxins from the body by improving our bowel movement. It is also a known diuretic – another way to release toxins and other harmful substances from the body through our urine.
Alugbati leaves are inherently smooth, thereby helpful in alleviating stomach ulcer. It is safe and healthy to eat for any digestive problems.
The fleshy, smooth leaves are very good for our digestive system. It facilitates good bowel movement and thus, prevents constipation and other digestive problems. Drinking 4 glasses of water every morning also helps in flushing out the toxins from our body.
Alugbati is rich in Vitamin A which is great for our eyes. Not only are the leaves but the stems are good sources of Vitamin A. Try to consume alugbati to improve your eyesight.
Every single serving of alugbati has the important nutrients included, such as Vitamin A and C, the minerals iron and potassium, and natural cellulose fiber for good bowel movements. And yet, it is low in calories which is good for us. The good digestion stimulated by alugbati leads to better metabolism, the foundation of losing and maintaining our weight.
Besides its water content, vitamins present in alugbati can block inflammation and reduce tissue swelling. The leaves itself can help cool down skin when applied.
So, are you convinced of the myriad benefits of alugbati? Share your opinions in the comments below.