Wattleseed, a wonderful flavorful spice from the land down under is the edible seed of the Australian Acacia species of trees. These seeds once served as food for the traditional Australian aborigines and were also used to make a type of bush bread. Wattleseed flour is prepared by drying the seeds and grinding them into a fine powder. This flour is found to have high nutritional content and fewer side effects and hence is widely gaining popularity in Australia and probably other parts of the world as well. Wattleseed has an exotic flavor somewhat similar to chocolate and hazelnuts and because of that, it is often used as a flavoring agent in ice creams, chocolates, sauces, bread, biscuits, cakes and many dairy desserts. Wattleseeds are also known by other names such as mulga, coastal wattle, golden wattle, gundabluey wattle and wirilda. Apart from Australia, various species of the Acacia trees are found in different parts of the world including Africa, Iran, Israel, Iraq South America and the United States.
Nutritional value of wattleseed
Wattleseed is a highly nutritious food item, which is low in glycemic index, high in protein and unsaturated fat content. The seeds are also high in fiber and carbohydrates. Wattleseed contains several essential minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc in moderately high levels. It contains most vitamins except for vitamin C, vitamin B12 and riboflavin.
Benefits of Wattleseed
Wattleseed offers more than just flavor and taste. The presence of various nutritious elements in this seed offers various health benefits too. A few of the benefits of eating this wattleseed are given below:
Wattleseed is a good source of folate
Wattleseed has been found to be high in folate content. Folate is a very important vitamin that plays a vital role in the biosynthesis of DNA and also the methylation cycle. It is essential for the synthesis and repair of human DNA and for the segregation of chromosomes. Ample amounts of folate together with various other nutrients such as vitamin B12, Zinc, Magnesium and calcium can help in preventing genome damage that may be caused by the deficiency of nutrients and also by oxidative stress. The deficiency of folate is associated with a higher risk of various health conditions such as dementia, cardiovascular disease as well as neural tube defects in babies.
Wattleseed for diabetics
Wattleseed has a low glycemic index, which means that it does not cause dangerous spikes in the blood glucose levels once it is consumed. Because of this property, it is considered to be a healthy food choice for people suffering from diabetes.
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Wattleseed shows antioxidant effects
The process of aging and many other diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cataract, macular degeneration, and autoimmune disease are believed to be caused by the oxidative stress on cells brought about by free radicals. Studies reveal that wattleseed contains antioxidants, which are the compounds that help our body fight off the free radicals and neutralize the effects of oxidative stress.
Wattleseed in beauty care
Wattleseed is widely utilized in massage centers and spas because it has the property to hydrate and rejuvenate the skin, when applied all over the body. There are several organic skin care and cosmetic products that also make use of the wonderful properties of these seeds.
Wattleseed contains magnesium
Magnesium is a mineral that is found in over 300 plus enzymes in the human body and is responsible for many important bodily functions. Some of these functions include proper formation of bones and teeth, management of blood glucose levels, creation of energy molecules or ATP molecules, relaxation of blood vessels and promotion of normal bowel movements. Wattleseed is a rich source of magnesium and its intake can help in reducing the risks of many health conditions caused by the deficiency of this essential mineral.
Wattleseed offers calcium benefits
Wattleseed is high in calcium content, yet another mineral that is crucial for maintaining the health of the human body. The recommended daily intake of calcium for an adult male is 800 mg and for an adult female is 1000 mg. Most of the calcium content (approximately 98%) in the body is concentrated in the bones. This mineral plays a vital role in keeping the bones and teeth strong and healthy. It is also essential for various functions that provide movement and maintain life such as nerve impulses and contractions of the muscles of various organs like the heart, kidney etc.
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Wattleseed is good for the heart
Foods rich in potassium such as wattleseed are considered to be beneficial for the heart. In fact potassium is a mineral that is essential for not only the heart but also for the functioning of kidneys and other organs. A low level of potassium in the body is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, digestive disorders, arthritis and cancer. Incorporating wattleseed in your diet can help you get adequate amounts of potassium in your body and hence lower the incidences of health problems associated with potassium deficiency.
Wattleseed is a rich source of iron
Iron is an important mineral vital for maintaining human health. The important functions of this mineral include the formation of haemoglobin, muscle and brain functions, regulation of body temperature, transport of oxygen to all parts of the body, synthesis of neurotransmitters, improving the strength of immune system, energy metabolism and the prevention of many health conditions such as iron deficient anemia, insomnia, fatigue, and many other chronic diseases. Since wattleseeds are a rich source of iron, its regular intake is a great way to supply your body with sufficient amount of this mineral.
Wattleseed contains good amounts of zinc
Wattleseed is a great source of zinc. Although zinc is a trace element that is needed only in small amounts by the body, it plays an important role in maintaining good health and well-being. Zinc helps in boosting your immune system, maintaining balanced hormone levels, healing wounds, and preventing oxidative stress. It also helps in the treatment of many diseases such as osteoporosis, pneumonia, etc.
As the popularity of wattleseed increases, it has started to appear in many sweet as well as savory dishes. It has developed from a traditional Australian food source to an exotic spice often used to improve the flavor of many dishes. With a high nutritional profile and low glycemic index, wattleseed can be considered an excellent addition to a low fat, well balanced and healthy diet.Image Credits: Flickr- Esther Beaton