If you’re bored of seeing the same fruit and veg in your local supermarket time and time again, then you could think about venturing out to the less well-known foraged plants. But do these wild plants provide any additional health benefits?
For one, foraged plants won't contain fertilisers and pesticides, and some suggest that they come with higher antioxidant content. For example, Alaska’s wild berries to come with a much higher antioxidant content in comparison to your regular farmed berry1.
But what about the health benefits of other foraged foods, are they worth it?
Not only are they easy to access in the UK, they are also jam packed full of vitamin C to support immune function and healthy skin. What’s more, they have a very low glycemic load, a number which predicts how quickly foods effect blood sugar levels. Opting for low glycemic load fruits can be a good option for balancing blood sugar.
Wild berries tend to have a higher antioxidant content in comparison to their farm-raised counterparts. Elderberries have been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years, however in more recent times black elderberry has been utilised as a remedy for coughs, colds and flu symptoms. However the jury is still out there with regards to their beneficial effect and more research needs to be conducted.
Samphire can be foraged on the British Coast and can make the perfect accompaniment for fresh fish and lamb. This salty veg of the sea is very low in calories, and is mineral dense providing high amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and even some iron.
With wild garlic being found across the UK, it is easy to access and can even be sourced in London. Garlic has been researched for potential benefits on cardiovascular health. Some preliminary studies suggest that wild garlic may have a greater effect on blood pressure in comparison regular shop bought garlic2.
However as this research has been conducted on animals and not humans, further research is needed to confirm these benefits.
You may think of dandelion leaves as a stubborn weed that is difficult to eradicate from your lawn or garden, however these leaves have been used for centuries in traditional medicine. Not only are they an excellent source of vitamin A, K, but they also provide potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium. The leaves are also rich in antioxidants called polyphenols which are located in the root, leaves, stem and even flowers.
Commonly thought of as a traditional remedy for the sting of nettles. These leaves have long been used internally for viral infections within traditional medicine, however there is a general lack of research around the health benefits of dock leaves3.
A weed which can be found in field crops and on your lawn. Purslane can be used within cooking or as a pickle. Research has shown that purslane is more nutrient dense than major cultivated vegetables. It has been shown to provide a rich source of beta-carotene, vitamin C surprisingly even omega 3 fats4.
By leading London Nutritionist, Lily Soutter BSc (Hons) Food & Human Nutrition, Dip NT