Garland Chrysanthemum Leaves: Nutrition and Health Benefits
What is Garland Chrysanthemum?
Garland chrysanthemum, which is known as Shingiku in Japan and Choy Suey Green in old Chinatown, is a healthy, edible plant native to East Asia. It is rich in chlorogenic acid (a type of hydroxycinnamic acid), carotene, flavonoids, vitamins and potassium, and can offer a multitude of health benefits. Some of the beneficial effects associated with eating garland chrysanthemum leaves include weight loss, antioxidant protection, a reduced risk of lung cancer, as well as protection against cardiovascular problems, kidney stones, cellulite, bloating and bone loss.
Garland Chrysanthemum has a slightly mustardy flavor and a crispy texture, and it is used broadly in Korean, Cantonese and Japanese cuisines where it is often used to flavor soups, stews, hot pots (such as sukiyaki and nabeomono), stir-fries and casserole dishes. On Crete, the largest Greek island, the tender shoots of Mantilida, a variety of garland chrysanthemum, are commonly eaten raw or steamed. If you are planning to add this healthy plant to your diet, be sure not to overcook it; this helps maximize the health benefits of this highly nutritious plant and ensure that it does not lose its delicate structure.
Weight Loss Benefits From Chlorogenic Acid
Garland chrysanthemum contains chlorogenic acid, a type of hydroxycinnamic acid that is also abundant in coffee beans. Chlorogenic acid has been shown to possess properties that slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal, which makes it an excellent weight loss nutrient. In Northern Europe, chlorogenic acid made from green coffee beans is marketed under the tradename Svetol and is used in chewing gums and mints to promote weight loss. Indeed, Svetol has been shown to reduce body mass index (BMI) and to increase the lean mass to fat mass ratio. In addition, garland chrysanthemum leaves are very low in calories, with a 100 gram serving providing only about 22 calories. They are also rich in fiber and extremely low in fat, which also contributes to the weight loss benefits of these healthy greens.
In addition to its potential weight loss benefits, chlorogenic acid in garland chrysanthemum offers antioxidant protection. Chrysanthemum greens are also rich in other anti-oxidant compounds such as flavonoids, vitamins and carotenoids. Antioxidants have beneficial effects on human health as they gobble up free radicals, destructive molecules that are implicated in heart disease, premature aging and wrinkling of the skin, cancer and other ailments. To preserve the antioxidant effects of garland chrysanthemum leaves, cook them only slightly.
Potassium for Better Health
A 100 gram serving of boiled garland chrysanthemum provides a whopping 270 milligrams of potassium. If you consume your chrysanthemum greens raw, you will get even more potassium: 460 milligrams for every 100 grams! This is almost 30% more potassium than a similar serving of bananas would provide — an interesting fact considering that bananas have long been touted as the gold standard for potassium. Potassium is an important mineral without which nerve impulses would not be able to travel and muscles would not be able to contract. A diet rich in potassium provides protection against high blood pressure (hypertension), strokes, kidney stones, bloating, cellulite, and bone loss.
Protection Against Lung Cancer
A large case-control study published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007 investigated the association between a diet rich in vegetables that provide vitamin A (in the form of carotene) and the risk of lung cancer among the Taiwanese study participants. The consumption of 13 food items and vitamin supplements was analysed using a food frequency questionnaire. The research group found that a higher consumption of vitamin A rich vegetables was associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer. Garland chrysanthemum leaves, along with sweet potatoes, were found to be particularly effective at reducing the risk of lung cancer in the study participants.
A Plant With Many Names
Garland chrysanthemum has many names. Botanically, it is known as Chrysanthemum coronarium or Leucanthemum coronarium. In Western countries, people simply refer to it as chrysanthemum greens, crown daisy, choy suey greens or edible chrysanthemum. In Japan, this versatile herb is known as shungiki or kikuna, while the Chinese know it by the name tong hao. The natives of the Crete island in Greece call it mantilida.
Possible Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
Some people may experience side effects, such as mild to moderate stomach upset, when consuming garland chrysanthemum. An adverse reaction triggered by the handling of chrysanthemum leaves or flowers is also possible.