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Borage nutrition facts

Borage or bee plant is one of the chosen culinary herbs used by our grandmothers to make their meals look and taste better, be it to make popular green sauce, to garnish salads or to pamper children with candied flowers! This ancient garden herb exudes characteristic cucumber aroma to the recipes it added to...thus making it as one of the most sought after herb in the households.

Botanically, it belongs to the family of Borabinaceae, of the genus Borago and has scientific name: Borago officinalis. The herb is known also as starflower since it bears five petal deep blue color star-shaped beautiful flowers in clusters. Some other common names include bee bread, burrage, common bugloss...etc.

Borage is annual hollow stemmed plant with bristly hairs and reaches about 75-90 cm in height. It grows in plentiful all over the wild highlands of Eastern Europe and Asia Minor regions.

The plant features broad oval shaped dark green fuzzy leaves. In general, its leaves are harvested from the plant just after the flower buds form but before flowering. Younger leaves are used in salads while older leaves are used as greens. However, as the plant gets older, the leaves get tougher, larger, more fuzzy, and bitter in taste.

Health benefits of borage

  • Borage is one of very popular culinary herb especially in Mediterranean countries. The herb contains many notable phyto-nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health and wellness.

  • The herb parts contain essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), typically in concentrations of 17-20%. Linolenic acid is omega-6 fatty acid that play vital role in restoration of joint health, immunity, healthy skin and mucus membranes.

  • Fresh burrage herb has high levels of vitamin C (ascorbic acid); provide 35 mcg or 60% of RDA per 100 g. Vitamin C is one of the powerful natural anti-oxidant help remove harmful free radicals from the body. Along with other anti-oxidants, it has immune booster, wound healing and anti-viral effects.

  • Burrage herb contains very high levels of vitamin A (140% of RDA) and carotenes . Both these compounds are powerful flavonoid anti-oxidants. Together, they act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.

  • Vitamin A is known to have antioxidant properties and is essential for vision. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin A and carotenes are known to help body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

  • The herb has good amount of minerals like iron (41% of RDA), calcium, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, which helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is an important co-factor for cytochrome oxidase enzyme in the cellular metabolism. In addition, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, it determines the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.

  • The herb is one of the good sources of B-complex vitamins, particularly rich in niacin (vitamin B-3). Niacin helps lower LDL cholesterol levels in the body. In addition, it has riboflavin, thiamin, pyridoxine, and folates in adequate levels. These vitamins function as co-factors in the enzymatic metabolism inside the body.


See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Borage herb (Borago officinalis), fresh leaves,
Nutritive value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 21 Kcal 1%
Carbohydrates 3.06 g 2.35%
Protein 1.80 g 3%
Total Fat 0.70 g 2%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%

Folates 13 µg 3%
Niacin 0.900 mg 25.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.041 mg 1%
Pyridoxine 0.084 mg 6.5%
Riboflavin 0.150 mg 12%
Thiamin 0.060 mg 5%
Vitamin A 4200 IU 140%
Vitamin C 35 mg 60%

Sodium 80 mg 5%
Potassium 470 mg 10%

Calcium 93 mg 9%
Copper 0.130 mg 15%
Iron 3.30 mg 41%
Magnesium 52 mg 13%
Manganese 0.349 mg 15%
Zinc 0.20 mg 2%

Selection and storage

Borage should be fresh for use in salads and in cooking. While buying from the markets look for fresh herb leaves with stout succulent stem and delicate cucumber flavor, which emanate when you hold the plant from short distance. Like other greens such as spinach, borage can stay fresh only for few days and looses flavor rather sooner. In addition, unlike other herbs (like oregano); dried borage leaves are out of flavor and hence used only when they are fresh.

Avoid sunken, yellow or dried leaves as they are out of flavor and taste.

Once at home, store borage as you do it for spinach or like any other greens.

Preparation and serving methods:

Wash fresh herb in cold running water or rinse for few minutes to remove any dust or any pesticide residues. The herb can be used in large quantities like green vegetables. Remove tough leaves and stem using paring knife.

Here are some cooking tips:

  • Young tender borage leaves add flavor of cucumber to salads.

  • Mature leaves can be used as a green vegetable in much the same way as spinach. It mixes well with other greens, green beans, carrots, potato, tomato etc.

  • Tender leaves used to make cool juice with added lemonade.

  • Borage flowers are often cooked in batter as fritters. They can also be candied.

  • Borage is one of the common ingredients along with parsley, chervil, chives, watercress, sorrel, and salad burnet in the preparation of traditional German green sauce.

  • Fresh herb can also be added to sausages, pizza and in poultry stuffing.

  • Borage tea is popular refreshing drink in the European countries.

Medicinal uses of borage herb

  • Borage herb parts especially its seeds contain many health benefiting essential oil such as gamma-linolenic acid. This omega-6 fatty acid (18:3 fats) has recommended in the treatment of arthritis, dermatitis, pre-menstrual painful conditions... etc.

  • An infusion of leaves and seeds is used in traditional medicines to increase breast milk production in the nursing mothers.

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