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Burdock root nutrition facts

Burdock root is a taproot of greater burdock plant, used as a vegetable and medicinal herb. Greater burdock plant is a short biennial, which believed to be native to Northern Europe and Siberia. In Japan, popular as gobo, it is cultivated as a major root herb since ancient times. However, burdock grows as a wild plant almost in many parts of the planet as easy growing hardy plant.

Botanically, burdock belongs to the family of Asteraceae; of the genus of Arctium and known scientifically as Arctium lappa.

Greater burdock plant grows to about a meter in height. It features broad heart-shaped coarse leaves like rhubarb that are deep green on the top and light green on the underside. In summer, thick hairy stems, about 5 feet in height, bear reddish purple tubular flowers which consequently turn into seed-heads or burrs with hooked spines. The deep taproots which may measure about 2-3 feet long are slender, shaped like carrot and parsnip, are brown with white flesh.

Of the four species of Arctium only greater burdock (A. lappa) and lesser burdock (A. minus) are cultivated for their herbal parts. In general, the roots are unearthed in the fall, slow dried and stored for use in winter. The burdock root has the flavor that resembles sweet taste of jerusalem artichokes or parsnips, has crispy texture with gummy consistency.

Almost all the parts of the plant are being used either for culinary purpose or as curative remedy for certain medical conditions.

Burdock root health benefits

  • Burdock roots, young shoots, peeled stalks, and dried seeds contain numerous compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.

  • The root is very low in calories; provides about 72 calories per 100 g. Burdock is very good source of many non-starch polysaccharides such as inulin, glucoside-lappin, mucilage...etc that help act as good laxative. In addition, inulin acts as prebiotic helps reduce blood sugar level, weight and cholesterol levels in the blood.

  • Burdock root is especially containing good amounts of electrolyte potassium (308 mg or 6.5% of daily-required levels per 100 g root) and low in sodium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.

  • It also contains some valuable minerals such as iron, manganese, magnesium; and small amounts of zinc, calcium, selenium, and phosphorus.

  • This herb root contains small quantities of many vital vitamins including folic acid, riboflavin, pyridoxine, niacin, vitamin-E, and vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. Both vitamin C and E is powerful natural antioxidants help body stave off infections, cancer and neurologic conditions.

Medicinal uses

  • Like its asteraceae family member dandelion, almost all the parts of burdock herb found place in various traditional as well modern medicines.

  • Burdock has been used in many folk remedies as one of the best blood purifiers. It contains certain diuretic principles, which help expel toxic products from the blood through urine.

  • The herb is employed in the treatment of skin problems such as eczema (dermatitis), psoriasis, skin dryness...etc. The plant parts have been used as herbal remedy for liver and gall bladder complaints.

  • Effusion of burdock seeds has been used for throat and chest ailments.

  • Burdock leaves and stems, in addition to their use as vegetable, have appetite stimulant and are a good remedy for dyspeptic complaints.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Burdock root (A.lappa), raw,
Nutrition value per 100 g
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 72 Kcal 3.5%
Carbohydrates 17.34 g 13%
Protein 1.53 g 3%
Total Fat 0.15 g <1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 3.3 g 8%

Folates 23 mcg 6%
Niacin 0.300 mg 2%
Pantothenic acid 0.321 mg 6%
Pyridoxine 0.240 mg 18%
Riboflavin 0.30 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.010 mg 1%
Vitamin A 0 IU 0%
Vitamin C 3 mg 5%
Vitamin E 0.38 mg 2.5%
Vitamin K 1.6 mcg 1%

Sodium 5 mg <1%
Potassium 308 mg 6.5%

Calcium 41 mg 4%
Iron 0.80 mg 10%
Magnesium 38 mg 9%
Manganese 0.232 mg 10%
Phosphorus 51 mg 7%
Selenium 0.7 mg 1%
Zinc 0.33 mg 3%

Carotene-? 0 mcg --
Carotene-? 0 mcg --
Crypto-xanthin-? 0 mcg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 mcg --

Selection and storage

Burdock roots are readily available in the Japanese super markets year around. However, in The USA, one may find dried roots in the selected vegetable markets or in some special oriental herb stores.

In general, roots of about 2 feet long and about 1 inch in diameter are kept in the markets for sale. Choose medium sized firm unbroken roots with taut skin. Avoid overtly dry or sunken ones as they may be off flavored.

Cleaned dry roots stay fresh for several months if kept in cool well-ventilated place. Processed parts/slices however should be stored in the refrigerator and used as early as possible.

Preparation and serving methods

Exteriorly burdock root features dark brown "bark like" color and has woody texture. Inside it has crunchy, milky-white fibrous flesh, which may turn gray upon exposure to air. To avoid this, while cutting, drop burdock slices/pieces/julienne into lemon water to prevent oxidation.

To prepare, wash the entire length of the taproot thoroughly in cold water and scrape off the skin using paring knife. Burdock root is tough and need to tenderize before use in cooking. To soften, cook the root in boiling water with one teaspoonful of baking soda added to a liter of water. Thus, prepared root is then can be eaten raw, or added to salads, soups, dishes… etc.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Burdock root is used in variety of Japanese cooking. In general, it is used as a side dish, soups and appetizer.

  • Cooked burdock slices can be enjoyed with butter and salt.

  • Burdock easily mixes with carrots, onions, parsnips, mushrooms…etc in kinpira style (kinpira gobo).

  • Burdock chips prepared like potato or banana chips are favorite snacks.

  • Young tender burdock shoots, harvested before flowering, used in salads or as a cooked vegetable.

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