What are Fiddlehead Ferns?
You may have a fern or two decorating your home, adding more green to your environment. But did you know that some ferns like fiddlehead ferns have a variety of uses in the kitchen and medicine cabinet as well?
Fiddlehead ferns produce curled fronds, which are harvested and consumed as a vegetable. Most commonly harvested in Canada, fiddlehead ferns are commonly integrated into the cuisine of Australia, New Zealand, and America.
Fiddlehead fronds are valued for their antioxidant activity and rich vitamin and mineral content. These antioxidants and nutrients provide many health benefits, such as improving blood pressure and fighting off infections.
Fiddlehead ferns are rich in nutrients yet low in carbohydrates and fat. The following nutrients can be found in fiddlehead ferns.
Vitamin A: Fresh fronds harvested from fiddlehead ferns are rich in the antioxidant vitamin A. Vitamin A is important because it boosts the body’s immune system, helping to defend it against infection.
Vitamin A also helps to keep your skin and eyes properly moisturized. Vitamin A is essential to improving and maintaining vision and also protecting the body from degradation of teeth, tissues, muscles, and bones.
Vitamin C: Another antioxidant found in fiddlehead ferns is vitamin C. We all know we need to get enough vitamin C to keep our immune system up and running and to protect against infections.
However, vitamin C has several other functions as well, such decreasing hypertension, facilitating the growth of healthy new tissue to heal wounds, and protecting the eyes from developing cataracts.
Potassium: Fiddlehead ferns are a significant source of potassium, meaning that consuming these fronds can improve your heart health and boost electrolyte functions. Potassium is also beneficial to the health of your muscles, preventing cramping, as well as improving the condition of your bones.
Iron: If you want to boost your red cell production and enjoy iron-rich blood, consider adding fiddlehead ferns to your diet. Along with preventing anemia and its associated symptoms iron also boosts energy, makes sure all the organs in the body are properly oxygenated, and helps regulate body temperature.
Manganese: Manganese is a mineral that encourages the development of enzymes necessary to healthy bone growth, preventing loss of bone density. This is especially important in preventing the development of osteoporosis. Manganese is also important because it helps to regulate metabolism and balance blood sugar levels.
Copper: Copper has several uses, such as serving as a powerful anti-inflammatory, helping alleviate the pain of such inflammatory conditions as arthritis. Copper is essential to a healthy diet because it is vital to healthy growth and development, as well as helps to provide the pigmentation of eyes and hair.
Omega-3: Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of a balanced diet, as they help protect the body from cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Omega-3’s also improve the condition of skin and hair, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation.
Fiddlehead ferns also contain a small amount of the B-complex vitamins niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Benefits of Fiddlehead Ferns
Given its rich nutritional content, fiddlehead ferns provide a wealth of health benefits. Listed here are some benefits associated with consuming this unique fern.
1) Boosts the Immune System
Rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin A and vitamin C, adding fiddlehead ferns to your diet can help protect your body from infections. These antioxidants also help to protect your body from damage caused by free radicals, which can cause cancer and premature aging.
2) Improve Cardiovascular Health
Due to its niacin and potassium content, regularly eating fiddlehead ferns can protect your heart and lower your cholesterol count. By actively lowering LDL cholesterol, your help to lower your blood pressure and decrease your chances of developing strokes, heart attacks, and heart disease.
3) Increases Red Blood Cells
Rich in iron, adding fiddlehead ferns to your diet can help keep up your red blood cell count, protecting you against anemia. Rich in copper and iron, regularly consuming fiddlehead ferns also keeps your blood oxygen-rich.
4) Maintains Eye Health
Fiddlehead ferns contain a significant amount of vitamin A, which helps to protect your vision and even improve your eyesight. Containing about 72% of your daily-recommended value of vitamin A, fiddlehead ferns also protect your eyes from macular degeneration as you age.
5) Boosts Energy
Fiddlehead ferns are a great addition to a healthy and balanced diet because they help jump start the metabolism and boost energy. This is largely in part due to the rich manganese content of fiddlehead ferns. Manganese helps to regulate thyroid function as well as maintains blood sugar levels.
Preparing Fiddlehead Ferns
When preparing fiddlehead ferns, be sure to scrape off any brown scales on the vegetable. Wash the fern thoroughly in cold water.
Storing Fiddlehead Ferns
It’s recommended that you consume fiddlehead ferns when fresh. When storing fiddlehead ferns, wrap them in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator. When stored in the refrigerator, fiddlehead ferns are good for 2-3 days.
Precautions and Side Effects
Before consuming fiddlehead ferns, please consider the following:
- There is currently no rigorous scientific evidence backing up the listed benefits and claims. Fiddlehead ferns should not be used as a replacement for traditional medicine.
- Discuss with your physician how fiddlehead ferns can be added to your diet and help supplement with traditional medicine.
- When consumed raw, fiddlehead ferns have an unpleasant bitter taste.
- Fiddlehead ferns should not be consumed raw as they may cause gastrointestinal upset.
- Food poisoning may result if fiddlehead ferns are not stored and cooked properly.