A native of the Alps and having similar qualities as that of spinach, orach is a leafy vegetable that belongs to the artiplex species. Also known by the common names orache and saltbush, this plant can also be found growing coastlines and in the Middle East, Northeast Asia, North America, North Africa and Southern Europe. Orach is a cool season vegetable that tastes almost like chard. It can be consumed raw or cooked just like spinach leaves. However, unlike spinach orach is able to tolerate warm weather conditions. This leafy vegetable comes in different colors such as green, red, and yellowish gold. Baby orach leaves which are tender and have the shape of teardrops is an excellent addition to salads.
Nutritional profile of orach
Orach is a good source of carbohydrates, proteins and dietary fiber. It is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K and B group vitamins. Orach also contains good amounts of essential minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, and manganese. Another advantage of eating orach is that you can benefit from the goodness of high amounts of antioxidants in this vegetable that help in protecting you from a wide range of diseases.
Health benefits of orach
Orach is packed with an abundance of nutrients that makes it beneficial to our health in many ways. Some of the health benefits of this leafy vegetable include the following:
Orach and digestive health
Just like most of the leafy vegetables, orach is also rich in dietary fiber and hence is beneficial for optimizing the process of digestion. Fiber helps in preventing constipation and other digestive disorders by adding bulk to the stools and regularizing bowel movements. Dietary fiber is also helpful in reducing the risks of gastrointestinal problems like ulcers and even colon cancer.
Orach enhances your immunity
Orach is found to contain almost two times the amount of vitamin C when compared to fruits like lemon and kiwi, which are considered to contain high levels of this vitamin. Vitamin C helps in boosting your immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells. This helps in protecting the body against common ailments such as cold and flu. Vitamin C is also helpful in cell regeneration and in promoting faster wound healing.
Orach improves the functioning of kidneys
Orach helps in stimulating urination as it has laxative and diuretic properties. Frequent urination helps in detoxification of the kidneys by eliminating wastes, excess salts, excess water, toxins and even fat from your body. It also helps your kidneys to perform at their optimum best.
Orach improves metabolic activities
The high levels of various nutrients in orach help in supporting different metabolic activities, which are necessary for the proper functioning of the body. These include enzymatic reactions, production of red blood cells, regulation of hormones, blood circulation, and oxygenation of the various parts of the body, and maintaining the overall health of the body.
Orach contains powerful antioxidants
Orach is high in several antioxidant compounds that can fight off the harmful free radicals that cause oxidative stress to the cells and organs of the body. This helps in preventing many serious diseases like cancer. Orach is a good source of antioxidants like carotenes and anthocyanins that have been found to be helpful in protecting your heart health as well as in preventing early aging and age related degenerative diseases like cataract and macular degeneration.
Orach may lower blood pressure
The high levels of potassium in orach help in lowering high blood pressure by neutralizing the negative effects of sodium in the body. Moreover, potassium acts as a vasodilator that widens the blood vessels, which helps the blood to flow easily. The diuretic property of orach is another factor that may contribute to the blood pressure lowering effects.
Orach and weight loss
Orach is a perfect leafy green that can be added to your diet if you are trying to lose weight. The high amounts of dietary fiber in this vegetable give you the feeling of fullness and satiate your hunger. This helps in doing away with the tendency to snack frequently and prevents overeating.
Orach promotes healthy bones
Orach is a rich source of bone healthy minerals including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese that contribute to the proper growth and development of bones. These minerals strengthen your bones and help in preventing bone loss and bone disorders like osteoporosis.
Orach may prevent anemia
Iron is a highly important mineral as it is required for the formation of red blood cells and for transporting oxygen to the different parts of your body. Orach is rich in iron and hence its consumption can help in increasing the number of red blood cells and in preventing iron deficiency induced anemia.
Orach for eye health
Orach contains good amounts of vitamin A that helps in promoting normal vision and healthy eyes. The high levels of antioxidants in this vegetable help in preventing eye disorders like macular degeneration and cataract.
Orach provides good amounts of copper
Orach is a good source of iron, copper and zinc, three minerals that are highly essential for your well being. Copper is important for the normal functioning of the brain and the nervous system. Copper helps to maintain the elasticity of the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow easily, thus reducing the risk of high blood pressure. Copper is also needed for the maintenance of connective tissue and healthy skin, formation of the white blood cells of our immune system, growth of new blood vessels, production and storage of energy in the mitochondria, wound healing and proper communication between the nerve cells.
Nutritious and tasty, orach leaves can be easily grown any time of the year. In addition to being a nutritious plant, orach has many other uses too. The seeds of this plant produce a blue colored dye. The plant has the capability of being converted into gaseous or liquid fuels and hence has the potential to be used in the bio-fuel industry.
Healthy recipes of Orach leaves
Orach Salad – Tender purple greens can be enjoyed in salad along with green lettuce, cucumber and tomato. For dressing chop garlic and mix with pinch of salt and some virgin olive oil. You may try some sweet fruit sauce as dressing as well.
Orach Green Sauce or orach chutney – Possibly one of the oldest orach recipes around. Grind cup of orach greens, along with beet, garlic, arugula, celary and other herbs. Add yoghurt or lemon juice for taste. Blend well for consistency. Orach green sauce tastes great with snacks.
Orach Pasta – Chop 2 cups of cleaned orach leaves, add a chopped onion and garlic. In a pan heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil and sauté orach, onion and garlic. To this add two cups of hot cooked pasta. Mix well and serve hot.