Edible Burdock Root: Health Benefits & Nutritional Properties
Burdock is the common name for any of the thistles comprising the genus Arctium of the Asteraceae plant family. The edible variety great burdock (Latin: Arctium lappa) — also known as beggar's buttons, gobo, sticky willie, and lappa burdock — is native to the temperate regions of the world and is cultivated in gardens — especially in Japan — for its root used as a vegetable. The slender roots of this biennial plant are edible raw or cooked. When harvesting burdock root, make sure that you gather it only from young, first year burdock plants. Second year burdock should not be eaten. Peeled and sliced roots of young burdock plants have a flavor similar to salsify, and they make a tasty and healthy addition to stir fries, soups, and salads. To prevent the flesh of raw, peeled burdock roots from discoloring, cook them as soon as they are cut, or soak them in cold water to which a little vinegar or lemon juice has been added.
Besides its culinary uses, burdock root has long been praised for its healing properties. The rest of this article is dedicated to shedding light on the numerous nutritional and health benefits of burdock root (or gobo, as the Japanese call it).
Burdock Root Stimulates the Growth of Bifidobacteria
Burdock root contains inulin, a type of beneficial fiber with numerous positive health effects. Most of these health benefits are linked to the ability of inulin fiber to promote the growth of bifidobacteria in the large intestine. Bifidobacteria are health promoting microbes that are naturally present in the gut. These bacteria have been found to destroy harmful bacteria in the intestines, promote easy bowel movement, and improve the immune system. Some studies also suggest that bifidobacteria may be able to reduce the levels of certain colonic enzymes that convert pro-carcinogenic molecules into carcinogens (cancer-causing molecules).
Burdock Root is Loaded With Potassium
Edible burdock root has almost as much potassium as bananas which are famous for their high potassium content. A 100-gram serving of raw burdock root provides a whopping 9% of the daily value for potassium. Potassium is a very important, yet often overlooked mineral. It is essential for the proper functioning of the entire human body, but it plays a particularly important role in heart function and muscle contraction. Some studies also suggest that a diet rich in potassium may improve bone health and prevent osteoporosis, particularly among elderly women. Eating plenty of potassium-rich foods such as burdock root is particularly important for people who consume too much salt (potassium can counteract some of the negative health effects of salt) or who may have lost potassium as a result of vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive sweating.
Vitamin B6 in Burdock Root Offers Numerous Health Benefits
Burdock root is an excellent source of vitamin B6, with 100 grams of raw burdock root providing more than a tenth of the daily value for vitamin B6. Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is needed for a healthy nervous system and normal brain function. It helps your body make hormones which regulate your internal clock as well as your mood. Some experts suggest that foods rich in vitamin B6, such as burdock root, may help control PMS symptoms in some women.
Furthermore, vitamin B6 has been found to play a role in lowering levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is thought to damage cells that line arteries, and a large body of evidence shows that high blood levels of homocysteine correlate with heart disease. Consequently, people who have a high risk of developing heart disease might benefit from eating burdock root as part of a balanced diet. In addition, vitamin B6 in burdock root may provide benefits to people with rheumatoid arthritis: low levels of vitamin B6 have been associated with this potentially debilitating condition characterized by chronic inflammation.
Other Healing and Nutritional Properties of Burdock
If all the above is not enough to convince you to eat more lappa burdock, here are a few more facts to consider: Burdock root is relatively low in calories, with 100 grams of raw burdock root providing only about 72 calories, making it a good choice for people who are trying to control their weight. What's more, most of these calories come from carbohydrates other than sugars (only 17% of the carbohydrates in raw burdock root are sugars).
Burdock root, whether eaten raw or cooked, is also a great source of manganese and magnesium. It also provides some folate, vitamin C, and pantothenic acid. You will also benefit from eating burdock root if you are looking to step up your intake of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, or copper.