Stop Fiddling Around With Your Diet and Try Fiddlehead Ferns!
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
At a recent event, I was introduced to a veggie dish that I had not eaten before. It was a pleasant surprise after I tasted it, but nonetheless a surprise.
I’m talking about fiddlehead ferns. Called fiddleheads for short, these interesting looking green coils are the young, furled fronds of a plant also known as the ostrich fern. To be honest, I was shocked to see them at first because they looked like little green snakes on a plate! Because they are foraged and not grown, I guess fiddleheads are technically not a vegetable, however, they certainly taste like a vegetable and are extremely nutrient-dense like your more typical veggies.
In my opinion, fiddleheads taste like asparagus, spinach and green beans. They are earthy, grassy and the perfect side to a piece of fish, lamb or chicken. After I had my first encounter with fiddleheads and enjoyed them, I did a bit of digging to see what health benefits they may offer.
To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” François de la Rochefoucauld
Antioxidants are invaluable to your daily diet, because they help protect your body’s cells. This protection is key in helping prevent degenerative diseases (such as Alzhiemer’s and Parkinson’s) and other severe illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.
“Antioxidants came to public attention in the 1990s, when scientists began to understand that free radical damage [which is essentially cell damage] was involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis,” according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“It was also linked to cancer, vision loss, and a host of other chronic conditions. Some studies suggested that people with low intakes of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables were at greater risk for developing these chronic conditions than were people who ate plenty of those foods.”
A recent study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that fiddleheads were high in antioxidants and could even rival the powergreen spinach. Some of the antioxidants fiddleheads contain include vitamins A and C.
The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include a reduced risk for heart attack and stroke, increased protection against Alzheimer’s disease, assisting in healthy neurological and eye development for fetuses and newborns, lower cholesterol and improvement in symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Research has shown that this fatty acid may even help with depression and other mood disorders.
If you are plant-based or don’t eat foods such as salmon and grass-fed beef (which are good animal sources of omega-3s), fiddleheads are a good way to get these essential nutrients from a plant food.
I really regret eating healthy today.” Said no one ever
Niacin may help boost good cholesterol levels as well as lower bad cholesterol levels. You can learn more about the potential benefits of vitamin B3 here.
Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte that works with sodium to balance the fluid and electrolytes in the body. Potassium also helps keep blood pressure under control and may help reduce kidney stones and bone loss as you age. It may even reduce your risk of stroke.
How to prepare fiddleheads...
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highly recommends eating fiddleheads fully cooked in order to help prevent food-borne illness. It is also probably best to boil or blanch them before sauteing or further cooking them via another method. Fiddleheads also have a papery brown skin that must be removed before eating. For a more detailed explanation on how to clean and prepare them, read here.
Also check out this delicious looking recipe of sauteed fiddleheads with garlic lemon butter. If you need to watch the butter, you can substitute with olive or avocado oil. There are also lots of pasta dish recipes online that contain fiddleheads. Be adventurous and get cooking!
Where can I find fiddleheads?
You most likely will not find them at your local, run of the mill grocery store. Do some research online and see if you can support a small business or local farmer who may have fiddleheads for sale. Publish a post on social media asking about fiddleheads. You’d be surprised by how many people are just as interested as you and who can provide them. I love it when healthy curiosity about healthy foods collides with social media and technology. It’s all about exploring and educating yourself about healthy eating. This is what pH Labs is all about.
Who should not consume fiddleheads?
As always, it is imperative to be very mindful of what you are eating and seek the advice of a competent healthcare professional if you have any existing health issues or are currently taking any medications as well as if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.