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Health Benefits of Tatsoi Greens

Baby tatsoi leaves lend their delicate flavor to mesclun salad mixes, while the more mature greens and stems of this Brassica vegetable are commonly used to add crunch and color to Asian-style stir-fries. Culinary aspects aside, tatsoi greens are also good for you.

Tatsoi's Health Benefits

An analysis of the nutrient content of tatsoi reveals that this unassuming Brassica vegetable is supercharged with calcium, carotenoids, vitamin C and glucosinolates, which makes tatsoi one of the healthiest salad greens out there. Here's the full scoop on the health benefits of tatsoi greens:

Tatsoi Greens Are Packed with Calcium

Both raw and cooked (sautéed) tatsoi greens are loaded with calcium. One cup or 5 ounces of fresh, chopped tatsoi greens, for example, provides almost a third of the daily value for calcium. Calcium, the most abundant mineral in the body, has a number of vital functions in the human body. Its perhaps best-known health benefit relates to its ability to keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy, but this vital nutrient is also involved in the transmission of messages through the nervous system, blood clotting, and regulation of heart rhythm.

Tatsoi: A Source of Carotenoids for Healthy Eyes

We typically associate carotenoids (pro-vitamin A) with carrots and other orange vegetables and fruits, but also many green vegetables contain these eye-healthy nutrients. Tatsoi greens, for example, are loaded with carotenoids, with one ounce of fresh tatsoi leaves supplying your body with 55% of the daily value for vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids). A revealing study published in the November 1994 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the study participants in the highest quintile of carotenoid intake had a 43% lower risk for age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the UK and US.

One of the Best Natural Sources of Vitamin C

Did you know that raw tatsoi leaves are one of the most concentrated natural sources of vitamin C? Ounce for ounce, these little spoon-shaped leaves contain more than twice as much as vitamin C as lemons and oranges. With 130 milligrams of vitamin C per a 100-gram serving, tatsoi greens also trump other common Brassica vegetables and salad greens in terms of vitamin C content. Even kale a well-known superfood and the second best source of vitamin C among Brassica vegetables, contains "only" 120 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams. Vitamin C has many health benefits, including keeping your immune system, skin, bones, and teeth strong and healthy. Vitamin C also anti-histamine properties and may therefore help alleviate symptoms associated with certain allergies.

Tatsoi Contains Glucosinolates, Beneficial Compounds with Anti-Cancer Activity

Although little is known about the potential anti-cancer effects of tatsoi greens, a high overall intake of cruciferous vegetables has been associated with reduced risk of several types of cancer, including lung, colon, breast, prostate and bladder cancers. The potential anti-cancer effects of cruciferous vegetables have been ascribed to the presence of glucosinolates in these super-veggies. While glucosinolates themselves do not confer many health benefits, they are easily converted into isothiocyanates, phytochemicals with proven anti-cancer activities.

Side Effects and Adverse Reactions

Above, we have focused on the potential health benefits of tatsoi, but if eaten in excess, this nutritious salad might also cause some problems. Like some other Brassicas, tatsoi contains progoitrin, a compound that is converted into goitrin in the digestive tract. In some cases, extremely high levels of goitrin may suppress thyroid activity and cause goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland that often produces a noticeable swelling in the front of the neck. To reduce your exposure to goitrin or any other single anti-nutrient, keep your diet varied and be sure to rotate your vegetables.

Book You May Like
Brassica Cookbook
Even though the health benefits of Brassica vegetables have been documented in numerous studies, many home cooks still find these green veggies a little intimidating. In Brassicas: Cooking the World's Healthiest Vegetables, Laura Russell teaches home cooks how to bring out the wonderful flavors of these super-veggies without burying them under unhealthy ingredients like cheese. Brussels sprouts, for example, develop a wonderful sweet flavor when they are roasted, while watercress comes into its own in salads that can benefit from a little peppery kick. To learn more, or order a copy, go to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.ca.