Black Salsify (Scientific Name: Scorzonera hispanica) is cultivated as a root vegetable. It is also known as Spanish salsify, Viper’s herb, scorzonera, viper’s grass, serpent root, or black oyster plant. The health benefits of black salsify are many. To name a few, it stimulates hair growth, boosts the immunity levels, lowers blood pressure, improves digestive health, increases metabolism, and lots more.
Introduction: Black Salsify
Black Salsify is a seasonal crop, which is primarily grown for its extra long roots that are white-creamy inside and black-brown on the outside. Each part of the salsify plant (roots, flowers, and leaves) is edible and delicious. They are low in calories and fortified with minerals and vitamins.
The black salsify roots grow in cool weathers. They originated from the Middle East and Southern Europe. One rarely sees this vegetable out of Europe, as the climatic conditions required for cultivating them aren’t perfect. However, some claim that they are now even widely grown in the United States. They have a mild “oyster-like” taste; thus, the name black oyster plant.
Experts advise wearing gloves while preparing the roots of black salsify because the dark outer peel color may get on the skin. Hence, the roots need to be peeled and soaked immediately in cold water with a few drops of lemon juice to prevent browning.
Even though the craze for black salsify has not spread very far in the world, it has started to show sporadically up in a few food stores and some import locations of North America. It is packed with all the vital nutrients required for our health. Since many of you might not be aware of this highly nutritious winter vegetable, we thought of telling you more about this super food through this post.
10 Best Health Benefits Of Black Salsify
1. Promotes Better Hair Growth
The health benefits of black salsify start with a very common problem both men and women face today – hair fall. According to studies, low levels or lack of iron is the primary cause for hair loss, especially during the time of pre-menopause. However, if this super food is added to the daily diet, it can do wonders for the hair. It has two of the most important nutrients the hair needs – copper and iron.
A 100 gram of black salsify (uncooked) offers about one-fifth of the everyday iron and copper requirement. Iron helps in keeping the hair follicles strong by carrying adequate amounts of oxygen to the scalp. On the other hand, copper stimulates hair growth and combats hair loss. Besides this, copper strengthens the hair, intensifies the hair color and prevents premature graying.
Apart from copper and iron, black salsify also has good amounts of vitamin C, a nutrient that is required for the collagen synthesis. Collagen keeps the hair healthy, strengthens the hair follicles, and promotes better blood flow in the scalp.
2. Maintains Strong Bones
Black salsify has high levels of calcium, copper, manganese, iron, copper, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium, all of which form a mineral base for maintaining strong bone tissues. Also, vitamin C plays a vital part in the bone formation process.
With an adequate density of bone minerals, one can prevent commonly occurring age-related problems like osteoporosis. In fact, a regular consumption of these roots is reported to prevent even arthritis, a disease that occurs when bones start to degrade, and the connective tissues (collagen) fail to maintain the integrity of joints.
3. Promotes Healthy Digestion
Black salsify is enriched with thiamine, a nutrient that helps the muscles and nervous system. Thiamin also helps with protein metabolism (especially with hydrochloric acid production in the stomach) and carbohydrate metabolism. The main purpose of hydrochloric acid is to prevent stomach’s bacterial overgrowth. Sadly, the levels of hydrochloric acid drop as one age. However, consuming some healthy vegetables like black salsify can help in stimulating the hydrochloric acid.
4. Supports In The Growth Of Bifidobacteria
Salsify is one of the excellent dietary sources of inulin, an important prebiotic fiber, which boosts the bifidobacterial growth in the body. Bifidobacteria are rod-shaped, anaerobic bacteria, which survive in the larger intestine of most mammals, even including humans.
These bacteria are highly beneficial for human health because they lessen the carcinogenic enzymes and other harmful bacteria from the intestines. Moreover, they promote a healthy immune system and treat constipation.
5. Treats Abnormal Blood Pressure
One of the best health benefits of black salsify is the presence of potassium in high quantities (serves 15% of the everyday requirement in one serving) and sodium in extremely low levels. It relaxes the blood vessels and significantly improves the issues associated with blood pressure. Moreover, it prevents the cardiovascular system from further damage and prevents the risks of heart attacks, blood clots, and strokes.
6. Prevents Skin Aging
Just like other healthy vegetables, even salsify is well known to prevent the aging signs. The skin begins to age when the body slows down or stops the production of collagen. If you are unaware, then here is a quick explanation of collagen.
It is a protein that is commonly found in the connective tissues, bones, and skin. Collagen is necessary for the skin to maintain its elasticity, structure, and strength. Also, it plays a vital part in the replacement of dead cells. Since Black Salsify is a good source of vitamin C, they assist in the synthesis of collagen and sustain a youthful and glowing skin.
7. Sustains Normal Blood Sugar Levels
Foods that are high on their GI (Glycemic Index) level can increase the blood sugar levels in the body. A good example of high glycemic food is white rice. That is why health experts recommend eating brown rice over the white variety.
White rice easily breaks down and causes the insulin as well as blood sugar levels to spike up after meals. However, black salsify gradually absorbs into the bloodstream. Thus, it stops those sugar crashes, mood swings, and sugar cravings. On the scale of 0 – 250, black salsify has a GI of 10.
8. Fights Cancer
Salsify is reported to have loads of polyacetylene antioxidants like falcarindiol, falcarinol, methyl-falcarindiol, and panaxydiol. According to a research done at the University of Newcastle in Tyne, all of these essential compounds exhibit anticancer, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties to protect an individual from acute lymphoblastic leukemia and colon cancer. An additional benefit is that its vitamin C content fights oxidative stress, which further prevents the healthy cells from developing into cancerous cells.
9. Increases Immunity
The blend of essential minerals and vitamins in black salsify roots assist in improving the metabolic functionality and efficiency in the body. They also have a huge impact on the immune system. Vitamins A & C in these dark brown roots act as an antioxidant and stimulate the white blood cells whereas the B6-vitamin in them increase the enzymatic functions for regulating hormones. This healthy vegetable has such an assorted collection of nutrients that every organ is somehow or the other benefited, making sure that every body part is fit and fine.
10. Prevents The Risk Of Major Disorders
Since salsify is a rich source of manganese, it plays a key role in maintaining the health of various enzymes in the body. It controls blood sugar, looks after thyroid function, and takes care of energy metabolism. A single bowl of salsify serves about 18% of the suggested manganese dosage. Deficiency in manganese can cause impaired fertility, birth defects, general weakness, and growth retardation.
Nutritional Information Of Black Salsify
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Dietary fiber
- Pantothenic acid