Fiddlehead Ferns: Types, Health Benefits & Risks
Fiddlehead ferns or fiddlehead greens are the furled fronds of a young and tender fern plant. They grow in the early spring and are harvested before the frond is opened . Fiddlehead ferns are packed with health benefits and contain a high nutritive value .
1. Ostrich fern - This type of fern is commonly eaten in British Colombia, Alaska, South and North California, and Newfoundland. It grows about 3-6 ft high .
2. Cinnamon fern - This type of fiddlehead fern grows in sandy soil and tastes delicious when cooked .
3. Lady fern - This fern grows in damp conifer and deciduous woodlands, up to a height of 2-3 ft. This type of fiddlehead fern contains 3-7 fronds.
4. Bracken fern - This fern contains a carcinogen called ptaquiloside which is destroyed while cooking. It is mostly eaten in North America.
100 g of raw fiddlehead fern contain 88.68 g water, 34 kcal (energy) and the following nutrients.
Fiddlehead fern is a good source of iron, a mineral which helps increase your red blood cell count. Most of the body's iron is found in the red blood cells of your blood called haemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to other organs. The fern also contains vitamin C which helps in better iron absorption .
Fiddlehead fern contains potassium and niacin; both these nutrients contribute to heart health. Potassium helps in stabilizing blood pressure as high blood pressure leads to stroke by damaging the brain's blood vessels . Niacin (vitamin B3) on the other hand boosts good cholesterol and lowers triglyceride levels .
The high antioxidant content in fiddlehead fern has the ability to prevent cancers. Antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C protect the cells from cancer-causing free radicals and stabilize the free radicals, thereby lowering cancer risk .
Fiddlehead ferns are a good source of vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant that strengthens the immune system by fighting your body against infections. Vitamin C aids the body to develop resistance against infections like bacteria, virus and protozoa and prevent them from attacking the body .
Fiddlehead fern is an excellent source of vitamin A; this vitamin is known for improving eyesight and preventing night blindness. It is also known for lowering the risk of macular degeneration, glaucoma, poor night vision, dry eyes and cataracts .
Fiddlehead fern contains riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, which is effective in treating migraine headaches. It plays a major role in the functioning of the mitochondria which is known as the powerhouse of a cell. According to some researchers, migraines can occur due to the dysfunction of mitochondria in some individuals .
Fiddlehead ferns can be extremely helpful in losing weight due to the presence of fibre. Dietary fibre is a powerful appetite suppressant and it also takes a longer time to digest. This keeps you feeling full for a longer period of time and your calorie intake is reduced .
While preparing fiddlehead ferns, it is necessary to scrape off any brown scales from the vegetable and wash it under running cold water. Fiddlehead ferns should be stored fresh. It should be kept in the refrigerator, wrapped in a plastic sheet. It should be consumed within 2 to 3 days.
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