Health Benefits of Black Salsify Root (Scorzonera Hispanica)
What kind of health benefits does black salsify offer? And what is black salsify, anyway? Keep reading to find out answers to these questions.
Black or Spanish salsify (Scorzonera hispanica) is actually not a member of the salsify genus ('Tragopogon') of plants; however, it is a closely related. Black salsify, also known as Scorzonera root, is a cool season crop grown primarily for its long root which is blackish brown on the outside and creamy white inside. Black salsify is a nutritious winter vegetable which will keep fresh all winter if the harvested roots are stored in a cool, dark place. The following paragraphs provide an overview of the health benefits associated with eating black salsify.
Black salsify promotes hair health
Black salsify hosts an abundance of hair health boosting nutrients such as iron and copper. A 100-gram portion of uncooked black salsify provides almost a fifth of the daily value for iron. Iron helps keep hair follicles healthy by carrying oxygen to the scalp. Research indicates that low levels of iron are one of the most common causes of hair loss in pre-menopausal women.
Also copper is known to combat hair loss and stimulate hair growth. Furthermore, it is thought to strengthen hair, intensify hair color and prevent premature graying of hair. A 100-gram serving of black salsify provides 6% of the daily value for copper (or even more, according to some estimates).
In addition to iron and copper, black salsify delivers vitamin C which is needed for the synthesis of collagen. Collagen helps keep hair healthy by promoting healthy blood vessels in the scalp and by strengthening hair follicles. Additionally, vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron from foods.
Inulin in black salsify stimulates the growth of bifidobacteria
Black salsify is one of the best dietary sources of inulin. Inulin is a type of prebiotic fiber that offers a number of health benefits, most of which have been attributed to the ability of inulin to boost the growth of bifidobacteria in the human body. Bifidobacteria are anaerobic, rod-shaped bacteria that live in the large intestines of most mammals, including humans. They are beneficial to human health as they can reduce the concentrations of harmful bacteria and carcinogenic enzymes in the intestines, cure constipation and have a positive effect on the immune system.
Thiamine offers additional health benefits for the digestive tract
Black salsify is a good source of thiamin: a 100-gram portion (3.5 ounces) of raw black salsify delivers 0.12 milligrams of thiamin, which corresponds to 9% of the daily value for this important micronutrient. Thiamin, sometimes spelled thiamine, plays an important role in the human body. Without thiamin, your nervous system and muscles could not work optimally.
Thiamin is also involved in carbohydrate metabolism as well as in the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Hydrochloric acid converts pepsinogen to pepsin, an enzyme that breaks down proteins into smaller units called peptides, which can then be absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream. In addition to promoting protein metabolism, sufficient levels of hydrochloric acid help keep bacterial growth in the stomach in check.
The level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach decreases as we age, and therefore especially older people might want to step up their intake of black salsify and other vegetables that stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid.
Black salsify supplies plenty of potassium
Black salsify provides as much potassium as bananas which are famous for their high potassium content. Often overlooked, the macromineral potassium is necessary for a properly functioning muscles, including the heart muscle. Furthermore, a diet that is rich in black salsify and other potassium-containing foods can help keep your bones strong and even reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Potassium-rich foods such as black salsify are thought to be particularly important for people who eat a lot of salty food.
Other health benefits of black salsify
If all of the above-described health benefits of black salsify are not enough to convince you to eat more of this healthy root vegetable, here are a few more facts to consider: Black salsify is mostly made of water, and consequently, it is low in calories. A 100-gram serving of uncooked scorzonera provides only about 73 calories. Black salsify also contains nutrients like folate and magnesium. For more information, see Black Salsify: Nutrition Facts.