#Alugbati / Malabar spinach / Basella – its fresh leaves are rich in potent antioxidants like zeaxanthin, lutein and beta carotene.  These compounds protect against free radicals and slow the aging process.  The leaves also contain mucilage and fiber, leading to better digestion.

Alugbati is rapidly gaining popularity worldwide.  Also known as Malabar spinach or basella, this leafy green vegatable packed a hefty nutritional punch.  With just 19 calories per serving, it fills you up quickly without adding inches to your waist.  It’s quite similar to spinach, offering a mix of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium and antioxidants. 

It is rich in Saponins that act as phytochemicals, which can fight off cancer. The red variety of alugbati is a good source of xanthones, an antioxidant. Its Folic acid, which is also called folate, is one of the B vitamins.

NUTRITIONAL VALUE

This perennial vine grows in Africa and Asia.  It has thick heart-shaped leaves and stems that emit a strong scent when crushed.  Like spinach and other leafy greens, it’s rich in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and phytochemicals.

One serving (100 grams) provides:

Vitamin A:  267% of the RDA

Vitamin C:  170% of the RDA

Folate:  35% of the RDA

Manganese:  23% of the RDA

Alugbati also boast large amounts of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and B complex vitamins.

It’s an excellent source of phytonutrients that scavenge oxidative damage and promote overall health.  Its fresh leaves are rich in potent antioxidants like zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta carotene.  These compounds protect against free radicals and slow the aging process.  The leaves also contain mucilage and fiber, leading to better digestion.  It roots can be applied topically to reduce swelling.

Control of the blood pressure – alugbati leaves have high contents of manganese and potassium making them very beneficial for the blood pressure and the heart rate. These contents are the key reason why it can prevent heart disease and can relieve a high-blood-pressure related headache.

FIGHTS OXIDATIVE STRESS

With its antioxidant levels, alugbati neutralizes free radical damage, which is a major contributing factor to chronic diseases.  Free radicals are everywhere around you, including in the air and in water and soil.  Food, cosmetics, household cleaners and cigarette smoking are common sources too.  Additionally, your body produces free radicals on a daily basis.

Antioxidants offset the harmful effects of oxidative stress.  For example, beta carotene – a powerful antioxidant in alugbati – protects your cells from free radicals and boosts immune function.

Studies have linked beta carotene supplementation to a lower risk of cognitive decline, lung disease and cancer.

Reliever of ulcer – the smoothness of the alugbati leaves can acts as reliever of stomach ulcer. Also it is safe to use for any other digestive matters.

SUPPORTS EYE HEALTH

Alugbati / Basella is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that help improve eye health.  These antioxidants block blue light from reaching the deep layers of the retina and protect against macular degeneration.  Commonly referred to as the “eye” vitamin, lutein may reduce your risk of cataracts and protect against age-related blue-light damage.

In animal studies, these carotenoids have been shown to counteract the damaging effects of oxidative stress of eye health.  Over time, they may help prevent retinal detachment, uveitis, diabetic retinopathy and vision loss.  Furthermore, they protect your skin from UV radiation and also slow aging.

Constipation prevention – the leaves of alugbati are also good for the digestive system, because it boosts the bowel movement, prevents constipation and similar digestive related matters.

IMPROVES DIGESTION

This vegetable boasts large amounts of fiber, increasing satiety. Dietary fiber enhances digestive health and keeps you regular.

Additionally, it slows sugar absorption in the bloodstream, which may lower your risk of insulin resistance, diabetes and metabolic disorders.

Fiber is particularly beneficial for those struggling with constipations, bloating and indigestion. This nutrient helps normalize bowel movements and supports colon health. It may also help reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol levels, keeping your heart functioning at its peak. Plus, it suppresses appetite and fills you up quickly, making it ideal for dieters.

Release of toxins – since the alugbati can boost the bowel movement, it can also allow the body to set free toxins from feces. Moreover, it is also familiar as a diuretic, because it allows the body to release more toxins through the urine.

KEEPS YOUR BRAIN SHARP

Rich in folate and other B-complex vitamins, alugbati supports mental function and keeps your brain sharp. Thiamine, biotin, folic acid, and other B vitamins play a key role in mental health.

Vitamin B-12 deficiency, for instance, has been linked to a higher risk of depression, fatigue, anemia and paranoia. Eating leafy greens, such as alugbati, may help prevent these issues and boost brain function.

These are just a few of the many benefits of alugbati. Despite its low calorie content, this vegetable exhibits an exceptional nutritional profile. When consumed regularly, it can help balance your blood sugar levels, prevent osteoporosis and stimulate red blood cell production. It also supports immune function and aids in weight management.

Beneficial for pregnant women – the alugbati leaves contain folic acid, a nutrient which is very much needed and beneficial to pregnant women and the development of baby’s healthy nervous sytem.

CANCER PREVENTION

Alugbati is packed with antioxidant just like the other vegetables. It fights the free radicals, considered to be the principal reason of forming some cancer types.

According to medical studies, all green vegetables including the alugbati are superb in prevention of the growth of cancer cells, in particular in the oral cavity and the lungs.

Anemia prevention – this vegetable also called spinach has leaves that are rich in iron. Only 100 grams of fresh leaves can satisfy 15% of the daily need of iron. The regular consumption can prevent you from developing anemia.

IMMUNITY BOOSTER

Many studies through the years reveal that the alugbati is very rich in vitamin C influencing positively and boosting the immune system.

When consuming the alugbati leaves, it is highly recommended to select the shiny, fresh leaves and firm stems. That means to avoid the discoloured, sunken and dry leaves. Prior to cooking, the alugbati leaves should be thoroughly washed in cold running water. The best way to consume this vegetable is to include it into soup, stew or stir -fry.

Better sleep – apart from maintaining the good health of internal organs and skin, the alugbati can also help with relaxation. The vitamins such as magnesium and zinc help with relaxation of the whole body and quick recharge of energy.

WEIGHT LOSS

Each single serving of alugbati leaves contains many nutrients such as natural fibers, vitamins, and minerals, bit still it has very low calories. Its fiber contents are also favorable in improvement of the digestive organs, so that it is resulting to an improved metabolism system as the key to weight loss.

ANTI-AGING BENEFITS

Free radicals can cause premature aging. By applying alugbati leaves directly to the skin, its antioxidants delay the premature aging process and it also makes the skin appear younger and firmer.

Softer skin – for a softer skin, you can apply alugbati leaves directly on your skin and you can use it as a home-made natural facial mask. It rehydrates and soothes the skin.

REDUCTION OF SWELLING

The alugbati leaves have the ability in cooling down the skin, which is also beneficial in reduction of swelling. The vitamin contents block the inflammation and reduce the swelling.

References: healthyeating.sfgate.com / holisticlivingcorner.com

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