Papalo is an herb that is not as well known as cilantro or parsley, but it offers some great health benefits. Papalo, also called summer cilantro, is a leafy green herb that is used in Mexican cooking. It has a strong, pungent taste that is similar to arugula or cilantro. While not as common in the United States, papalo is widely used in central and south Mexico. So what are the benefits of using papalo herb? Here is a quick overview of some of the top health benefits of papalo:
– Aids digestion
– Anti-inflammatory properties
– Antioxidant properties
– Diuretic properties
– Reduces gas and bloating
– Boosts cardiovascular health
Now let’s take a more in-depth look at the many health benefits of papalo herb and why you should consider adding it to your diet.
One of the top benefits of papalo is that it aids digestion. Papalo contains antimicrobial properties that restrict the growth of bacteria in the gut. This allows for better digestion and prevents issues like diarrhea.
The carminative properties of papalo also help to reduce gas and bloating in the gastrointestinal tract. This allows food and waste to move smoothly through the system. Studies have found that extracts from papalo can help to increase stool weight and improve gastrointestinal motility.
Overall, the digestive benefits of papalo make it a great addition to meals, especially if you tend to experience digestive issues after eating. Adding just a small amount of papalo can help regulate digestion.
Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous diseases and cancer. Papalo contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Papalo is rich in phytochemicals like flavonoids, alkaloids, and saponins. These plant-based compounds provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Research has found papalo extract to be effective at lowering inflammation markers.
The anti-inflammatory abilities of papalo can help with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, and diabetes. Using papalo regularly may help lower the risk of inflammation-related disease.
Papalo is also packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that can neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress from too many free radicals can damage cells and contribute to aging and disease.
Some of the key antioxidants found in papalo include flavonoids like quercetin, tannins, saponins, and alkaloids. These antioxidants help to combat free radicals and lower oxidative damage to cells.
The antioxidant content of papalo provides protection against cellular damage, cancer, heart disease, neurological decline, and vision issues. Getting plenty of antioxidants from herbs like papalo is important for maintaining good health.
Papalo has natural diuretic effects. Diuretics can help the body flush out excess water and salt through urine. This helps to relieve water retention or edema.
Studies have found that extracts from papalo can significantly increase urine output and electrolyte excretion. The diuretic abilities were found to be comparable to prescription diuretics.
Using papalo as a diuretic can be beneficial for reducing high blood pressure, managing PMS symptoms, improving circulation, and losing weight caused by fluid retention. Just a small amount of papalo may help stimulate urine production.
Reduces Gas and Bloating
If you deal with issues like flatulence, abdominal cramping, or bloating, papalo can help provide relief. As mentioned previously, papalo contains carminative substances that help to reduce the formation of gas in the intestines.
Traditional Mexican medicine has used papalo to treat stomach and intestinal gas for many years. The herb appears to provide antispasmodic effects on the digestive tract. This smooth muscle relaxation allows for better passage of food and less gas production.
Adding papalo to bean dishes, heavy meals, or any foods that cause gas can help mitigate flatulence and bloating. The carminative effects make papalo a useful remedy for common gas-related discomfort.
Boosts Cardiovascular Health
Some research indicates that papalo may also boost cardiovascular health. Studies have found that extracts from papalo can help widen blood vessels and improve circulation.
Papalo’s diuretic properties help reduce blood volume and lower blood pressure levels. Compounds in papalo called saponins also support heart health by reducing cholesterol in the blood. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Through these mechanisms, papalo provides benefits for heart health and overall cardiovascular function. It may help lower high blood pressure, improve blood flow, and reduce risk factors for heart disease like elevated cholesterol.
How to Use Papalo Herb
Now that you know the many benefits of papalo herb, you may be wondering how to use it. Here are some simple ways to use papalo:
– Add chopped papalo leaves to guacamole, salsa, or dressing as a cilantro substitute. Use just 1-2 tablespoons.
– Include papalo in fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, and other Mexican dishes.
– Mix chopped papalo into a ceviche for a fresh herb flavor.
– Add papalo at the end of cooking soups and stews.
– Use as a garnish over grilled meats like steak or chicken.
– Make a cilantro pesto swapping the cilantro for papalo.
– Add to green smoothies along with other herbs.
– Chop and mix into rice dishes and beans before serving.
The taste of papalo ranges from mild to an intensely strong flavor depending on the maturity of the leaves. It is a great way to add a punch of flavor and nutrients to many dishes.
When cooking with papalo, add the leaves near the end to help retain the nutrients and avoid overcooking. You can use papalo fresh or dried. Fresh will provide the best flavor.
Possible Side Effects and Caution
Papalo is generally considered very safe to eat for most people. However, there are some things to keep in mind:
– Papalo may cause allergic reactions in those allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family like ragweed, daisies, marigolds, and chamomile. Discontinue use if any signs of an allergic reaction occur.
– Papalo has blood thinning effects. Avoid use before surgery or with blood thinning medications.
– Papalo may lower blood pressure. Use cautiously if you already have very low blood pressure.
– Discontinue use if any gastrointestinal side effects such as diarrhea, nausea or abdominal pain occur.
– Not enough is known about use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Exercise caution or avoid use.
– Essential oils from herbs like papalo can cause skin sensitivity in some individuals. Do a skin patch test before topical use.
Consult your doctor before using papalo herb if you have any ongoing health conditions or take any medications. This will help avoid potential interactions or side effects.
Growing Papalo Herb
If you want easy access to fresh papalo, consider growing some yourself. Papalo can be grown from seeds or transplants. Here are some tips for growing papalo:
– Grow papalo after the last frost in spring or early summer. Papalo thrives in hot weather.
– Plant in a sunny spot with well-draining soil. Amend soil with compost to improve drainage.
– Sow seeds 1⁄4 inch deep directly in the garden. Keep soil moist until seedlings emerge.
– Space seedlings or transplants 12-15 inches apart. Papalo grows 1-3 feet tall.
– Water papalo regularly to keep the soil consistently moist. But avoid overly soggy soil.
– Harvest leaves as needed once the plant is established. Pick leaves from the outside of the plant.
– At the end of the season, papalo can be pulled up by the roots and hung to dry indoors for storage.
Growing papalo is easy in a sunny herb garden or container. Enjoy having fresh papalo leaves on hand to spice up your cooking all summer long.
Where to Buy Papalo Herb
While papalo may not be a common produce item, there are some places you may find it:
– Mexican grocery stores and markets, especially in areas with a large Mexican population. Ask for “papalo” specifically.
– Farmers markets, particularly those carrying exotic or ethnic produce.
– Online spice shops. Dried papalo can be purchased online to be shipped if it’s not available locally.
– Specialty or gourmet grocery stores focused on unique produce items.
– Growing your own from seed if you can’t find papalo near you.
Checking Latin and Mexican markets is your best bet for finding fresh papalo. If it’s not in stock, ask if they can special order it for you. The dried herb and seeds can conveniently be ordered online as well.
Papalo is an excellent addition to Mexican cuisine and offers some impressive health benefits. Here are the key takeaways about papalo herb:
– Papalo, also called summer cilantro, tastes like a cross between arugula and cilantro.
– It provides antimicrobial effects for better digestion and gut health.
– The herb has potent anti-inflammatory properties to lower inflammation.
– Papalo is high in protective antioxidants that prevent cellular damage from free radicals.
– It has natural diuretic properties that can reduce bloating and high blood pressure.
– Papalo helps get rid of gas, cramps, and bloating resulting from intestinal gas.
– Early research indicates papalo may also improve cardiovascular health.
– The leaves taste best when added raw near the end of cooking.
– Look for papalo in Mexican markets or grow your own.
– Speak with your doctor before using if you take any medications or have health conditions.
So in summary, papalo is an outstanding culinary herb that also provides medicinal benefits. Consider integrating this flavorful herb into your cooking routine more often.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does papalo taste like?
Papalo has a bold, pungent flavor. When raw, it tastes like a cross between arugula, cilantro, and rue. The flavor has slight spicy or peppery notes as well. Papalo holds up well when cooked and adds dimension to dishes.
Can papalo replace cilantro?
Papalo makes an excellent cilantro alternative, especially in Mexican cuisine. While papalo tastes stronger, it can be used similarly to cilantro in salsas, guacamoles, ceviches, and other dishes calling for cilantro. Use a little less papalo than you would cilantro due to its potent flavor.
Is papalo safe to eat?
Yes, papalo can be safely eaten for most healthy individuals. As with any herb, some people may experience allergic reactions or interactions with medications. Use cautiously if you have low blood pressure, surgery scheduled, or are pregnant.
Where does papalo grow?
Papalo originated in central and south Mexico where it thrives in the hot climate. It can also be found growing in parts of the American southwest. Papalo can be grown as an annual herb in temperate climates as well during the warm summer months.
Can you eat papalo raw?
Papalo leaves and stems can absolutely be eaten raw. This is the preferred way to enjoy papalo to get the most flavor and nutritional benefits. Add raw papalo at the end of cooking or use as a garnish to dishes.
Does papalo go bad quickly?
Papalo leaves are delicate and will wilt within 4-5 days if refrigerated. For best quality and flavor, use papalo soon after harvesting or purchasing. You can also freeze leaves to preserve them longer. Dried papalo will keep for months stored in an airtight container.
What recipes use papalo herb?
Some classic recipes using papalo include:
– Chimichurri sauce
– Enchilada fillings
– Salad dressings and green salads
– Soups like pozole, menudo, and chicken soup
Use papalo anywhere you would typically use cilantro. It adds a unique zesty flavor to Mexican cuisine.
If you are looking to add more authentic Mexican flair and health benefits to your recipes, papalo is a great herb to try. Papalo has a distinct flavor that sets it apart from more common cilantro. Beyond being a tasty culinary herb, papalo provides health perks like improved digestion, anti-inflammatory effects, diuretic, and antioxidant abilities. Adding just a small amount of this herb to your dishes can provide a flavor and health boost. Look for papalo at ethnic grocers or farmers markets to reap the delicious flavors and medicinal benefits it has to offer.