Lemongrass nutrition facts
Refreshingly citrus scented lemongrass imparts unique flavor to recipes. Its coarse tufted stems and leaf buds are among the most sought after herbal parts used in array of cuisines all over South and East Asian region.
Botanically, the herb belongs to grass family of poaceae. Scientific name: Cymbopogon citratus. Lemon grass is native to Southern part of India. The herb is most popular in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Indonesia and as far as African and American continents for its culinary and medicinal uses.
The herb grows in dense clumps erupting from tough bulbous base with a spread of about 1 meter wide and about 3 feet in height. Its leaves are bright green with sharp edges with appearance similar to grass. It flourishes well in fertile sandy soils with tropical climates receiving heavy rain.
Several species based upon their origin and oil properties cultivated around the world on commercial scale. Indian lemon grass (C. flexuosus) is dominantly used in the perfume industry as it contains less myrcene and, therefore, has a longer shelf life. C. citratus or west-Indian lemongrass of is an important culinary herb and spice used extensively in cooking in many East Asian countries.
Health benefits of lemongrass
Lemongrass herb has numerous health benefiting essential oils, chemicals, minerals and vitamins that are known to have anti-oxidant and disease preventing properties.
The primary chemical component in lemongrass herb is citral or lemonal, an aldehyde responsible for its unique lemon odor. Citral also has strong anti-microbial, and anti-fungal properties.
In addition, its herb parts contain other constituents of the essential oils such as myrcene, citronellol, methyl heptenone, dipentene, geraniol, limonene, geranyl acetate, nerol etc. These compounds are known to have counter-irritant, rubefacient, insecticidal, anti-fungal and anti-septic properties.
The herb is very low in calories; contains 99 calories per 100 g but contains no cholesterol.
Its leaves and stems are very good in folic acid (100 g leaves and stems provide about 75 mcg or 19% of RDA). Folates are important in cell division and DNA synthesis. When given during peri-conception period can help prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
Its herb parts are also rich in many invaluable essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish.
Fresh herb is also containing small amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C and vitamin-A.
Lemon grass herb parts, whether fresh or dried, are rich source of minerals like potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, 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.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.49 g||2%|
|Vitamin A||6 mg||<1%|
|Vitamin C||2.6 mg||4%|
Selection and storage
Fresh lemongrass stalks and leaf buds are available around the year. In general, fresh leaves are harvested for use in cooking from the backyard garden. If you have to purchase from the herb stores, choose fresh lemongrass leaves and stems featuring fresh and lemon-like flavor with a hint of rose fragrance. Look carefully and avoid yellow discolor and spotted leaves.
Once at home, wash stems in clean cold water. Remove leaves and store stems in zip pouch and store separately as the lemongrass tend to spread its flavor to other foods. The stems stay fresh this way for up to 2-3 weeks.
The stems can also be frozen and keep well in this condition for several months.
Dried and grounded lemon grass powder (sereh powder) can also available in the markets. Buy from organically grown authentic sources. Dried herb should be kept in an airtight container and placed in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for several months.
Lemongrass features in many East Asian cuisines. Freshly chopped stems and leaf buds as well as dried or ground herb parts used in cooking.
The herb imparts distinctive lemon flavor when cut or crushed due to release of essential oil citral. Before eating discard tough stems and fibers as they are un-chewable.
Here are some serving tips:
The herb popular ingredient in many cuisines since its delicate flavor goes well with fish, seafoods, meat, and poultry.
It is widely used in soups, stir-fries, marinades, curries etc in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, and Indonesia.
- Tom yum is a favorite soup name in Thailand. The soup is made of fresh lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, fish sauce, and crushed chili peppers. Tom yum is usually added with prawns, fish, poultry or mushrooms.
Lemongrass tea is a very refreshing beverage.
Its fine buds and stems used as garnish in salads.
Ground dried lemon grass powder (sereh powder) used in place of stems in marinades in Indonesian islands.
- This herb is also as flavoring base in pickles.
Medicinal uses of lemongrass
Pharmacologically, citral has been used in the synthesis of vitamin A.
Lemon grass is one of the favored herbs used in herbal teas.
It is also helpful in relieving colitis, indigestion, and gastro-enteritis ailments.
Lemongrass oil when used in aromatherapies revitalizes the body and helps relieves the symptoms of headaches, body-ache, nervous exhaustion, and stress-related conditions.
Its infusions are often made useful in infections such as sore throats, laryngitis, bronchitis etc.
Lemongrass oil is used in massage therapy as a muscle and skin-toner.
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