Ashitaba has been an important part of culinary applications and medicinal remedies in Japan for centuries, but there are a number of things to understand about this plant before use.
What is Ashitaba?
Ashitaba is the Japanese name for a flowering plant scientifically known as Angelica keiskei. A member of the carrot family, this plant bears fast-growing, dissected leaves that are commonly used as both food and medicine in Japan. Ashitaba contains high levels of B vitamins, as well as potassium, iron, calcium, and moderate levels of protein. There are also a number of powerful antioxidants in this plant.
The leaves are the most commonly used part of this plant, although the taproot and stems are also used for some preparations. The common name for this plant is “tomorrow’s leaf”, but it is best if you use it today, considering the rich nutritional profile that it possesses. Some people are turning to ashitaba as a replacement for other leafy greens, particularly because the taste is notable milder, closer to celery root or guava leaves, rather than spinach or kale.
Ashitaba Health Benefits
The many health benefits of ashitaba include its ability to improve the central nervous system, prevent the development of diabetes, and clear up stomach issues, among others.
- Prevents gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Regulates cardiovascular health
- Relieves heartburn (acid reflux disease)
- Lowers overall cholesterol
- Regulates blood pressure
- Treats constipation
- Slows the aging process
- Improves central nervous system function
- Prevents certain types of cancer
- Stimulates the immune system to fight infection
- Detoxifies the blood and prevents strain on the liver
- Lowers your risk of diabetes, and helps manage the condition
- Increases the metabolism to aid weight loss
- Strengthens brain function and reduces neurodegenerative disease risk
- Eliminates inflammation associated with gout, hemorrhoids, and arthritis
- Anti-fungal, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic in nature
- Prevents the long-term damage of free radicals, thus preventing oxidative stress
- Prevents allergic reaction
- Treats hay fever
How to Use Ashitaba Leaves?
Now that you have known what these powerful leaves can do, it is important to use them properly in your diet.
- As a food source, the leaves can be used in place of other leafy green vegetables, such as collard greens, kale, and spinach, but in much smaller quantities, no more than 5-6 leaves per day.
- Many experts recommend rinsing the leaves with salt water, followed by fresh water before consuming.
- When the leaves are dried, 1-2 can be brewed into a powerful tea and consumed twice daily.
- These dried leaves can also be chopped and ground into a powder, and placed in capsules.
- Extracts and tinctures are also available from specialty health stores.
While there are plenty of benefits to using these leaves, both as a food and a medicine, there can be some side effects when consumed in excess. These side effects include complications with pregnancy and breastfeeding, so women in these conditions should avoid use completely. Before adding this herbal remedy to your diet, it is best to speak with your doctor about your particular health conditions.