Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hearts of Palm (aka palm heart or palmito)

What are they?

These delicious cylindrical “hearts” come from the inside of palm trees. With the look of a chestnut, texture and flavor of an artichoke – they add a lovely touch to a salad (and can also be used to make dips). Since the harvesting of palm hearts originally killed the trees they come from, they were expensive and salads that included them were deemed “millionaire’s salads”. However, what you find now comes from trees with multiple palms, so that when one section is chopped off, the tree continues to live.

Why eat them?

It’s simple. They’re tasty and healthy, a rare combination. The amount of nutrients packed into one cup, which is 41 calories worth, is incredible: iron (25% of your daily value), protein (7%), vitamin C (19%), folate (14%), magnesium (14%), potassium (9%), and zinc (11%)! The only downside is the amount of sodium – 622mg (26%), which is mostly due to preservation needs and is comparable to the amount of sodium found in other canned vegetables.

Ready to try?
These scrumptious treats are available at Fresh Grocers or Whole Foods (for $2 to 5 per can/jar). So if you are bored of lettuce, tomato, and onion salads, then add some hearts of palm!

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