Eating stinging nettle has been linked to many health benefits through multiple studies. Take advantage of these healing qualities by adding stinging nettle into your diet! If you’re not sure where to start, let us share the benefits of consuming stinging nettle in food, and how to start enjoying all its healing qualities!
Why is it Called Stinging Nettle?
Stinging nettle’s scientific name is Urtica dioica. This is derived from the Latin root ‘uro’, which means ‘to burn’. This is because stinging nettle’s leaves have small spines that can cause a temporary burning sensation when they come into contact with skin. If you accidentally brush up against a stinging nettle, you’ll likely feel an intense stinging. Contact with stinging nettle plants can also produce itching, redness, swelling, and even a rash for some people. This might sound like a plant you want to steer clear of! However, once properly processed, stinging nettles offer many health benefits in food.
In fact, stinging nettle has been used in herbal medicine throughout history! Egyptians used stinging nettle to help treat joint pain. Roman troops were reported to rub the plant on themselves to stay alert and awake during long battles. Greeks used it as a diuretic. In more recent history, stinging nettle continues to be used for its many healing qualities.
6 Health Benefits of Stinging Nettle in Food
When properly processed and eaten, stinging nettle in food can provide many health advantages. Stinging nettle contains many nutrients, including vitamins A, C, K, and B. The leaves also provide terpenoids, carotenoids, fatty acids, essential amino acids, chlorophyll, and polyphenols. These qualities help stinging nettle to provide the following health benefits:
- Anti-inflammation: Stinging nettle has been known to help those who suffer from joint pain and arthritis. Arthritis causes inflammation in the joints, and eating stinging nettle has been shown in some cases to help decrease that inflammation. This eases the pain arthritis causes, and can therefore be a helpful supplement, even recommended by the Arthritis Foundation.
- Detoxification: Stinging nettle can be used as an effective diuretic, helping the body to get rid of excess salt and water. Consuming nettles can help flush out the system.
- Blood Pressure: Stinging nettles may also help control blood pressure. One study demonstrated that they acted as a vasodilator, helping relax the muscles of your blood vessels so they can widen.
- Allergies: Stinging nettles affect receptors and enzymes that cause allergic reactions, reducing the inflammation that causes sneezing and coughing. Because of this, stinging nettles may be able to help reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies and hay fever.
- Prostate Health: More than half of men 60 and over will experience discomfort caused by an enlarged prostate gland. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). For men with this prostate issue, studies have shown that stinging nettle can help with those symptoms. This is due to a compound in stinging nettle that affects the hormones that cause BPH.
- Blood Sugar Levels: There have been recent promising studies that show stinging nettles have properties that may help keep blood sugar levels low. Consuming stinging nettle may be a great way to support diabetics and others who struggle to control their blood sugar levels.
There are many other uses for stinging nettles that are yet to be fully scientifically proven, but have a lot of potential for healing! As a polyphenol-rich plant, it has the possibility to help with cancer prevention. It may also help with reducing bleeding, healing wounds, and burn recovery. Some studies have shown that stinging nettles can benefit your skincare routine. Because of their antioxidant properties, they may help with anti-aging.
When you Shouldn’t Eat Stinging Nettle
While the many healing qualities of eating stinging nettle are impressive, it’s also important to know when you shouldn’t consume the plant. Stinging nettle should be handled and processed by those who are familiar with it. It’s important to be careful when handling the plant before it has been processed, as the leaves can cause stinging, rashes, and swelling.
It’s always a good idea to talk to a medical professional before taking any new health supplements. Those who have kidney or bladder problems should be careful about taking stinging nettle because of its diuretic properties. Talk to your doctor before consuming stinging nettle especially are if you are taking medication for blood thinners, blood pressure, lithium, diuretics, drugs for diabetes, or are pregnant.
How to Eat Stinging Nettle
There are many ways to incorporate stinging nettle into your diet. Make sure you know how to prepare stinging nettle — you won’t want to eat it raw straight out of the ground! Once it is processed into a supplement, cooked, or dried it is ready to be used in food preparation. Here are a few recipe suggestions to help incorporate more stinging nettle in your diet:
- Nettle soup is a dish that includes this medicinal plant and is delicious at the same time!
- Tea, brewed from stinging nettle leaves, is a common way for people to get more of the plant in their diets.
- Stinging nettle-infused butter is another delicious way to consume the plant.
- Sauteed stinging nettle greens is a simple preparation. Try sauteing with garlic, olive oil, and salt!
- Make a pesto with stinging nettles.
- Top a pizza or flatbread with stinging nettles.
Enjoy these delicious meals and get all of the healing benefits of stinging nettles at the same time!
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