Basella alba, Malabar spinach, is a popular green leafy vegetable in many parts of the world. Native to tropical Asia, this is fast-growing plant is a soft-stemmed, twining vine with dark green, glossy, oval to heart-shaped leaves that are thick and semi-succulent with a mucilaginous texture. It is easily grown as an annual during the heat of summer. The dark green, glossy, oval to heart-shaped leaves are thick and semi-succulent with a mucilaginous texture. The edible leaves (and shoots) of Basella alba resemble spinach with a mild, slightly peppery flavor with a hint of citrus and are used in the same way. The young leaves can be eaten steamed or boiled like cooked spinach.
Common Name: Malabar spinach, vine spinach, Ceylon spinach and Indian spinach
Botanical name: Basella alba
General Info: Originating from the Indian subcontinent
Health Benefits: this popular tropical leafy-green vegetable has been cherished for its exceptional nutritional profile and culinary versatility.
*Excellent Source of Antioxidants: contains antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C. These antioxidants not only protect the body against cellular damage but also support healthy aging, reduce the risk of certain cancers, and promote cardiovascular health.
*Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: abundant in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and potassium. These nutrients are crucial for supporting various bodily functions, such as maintaining healthy vision, strengthening the immune system, promoting optimal bone health, and regulating blood pressure.
*Boosts Digestive Health: high fiber content is beneficial ingredient for digestive health. Adequate fiber intake is crucial for maintaining regular bowel movements and preventing digestive issues such as constipation. Additionally, fiber helps promote a healthy gut microbiome by acting as a prebiotic, nourishing beneficial gut bacteria to improved nutrient absorption and overall well-being.
*Promotes Heart Health: rich in heart-healthy nutrients like potassium and magnesium. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure levels, while magnesium supports proper heart rate and a healthy heart. Also, the antioxidant content helps reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
*Supports Weight Management: It is a low-calorie and low-fat vegetable and its high fiber content promotes feelings of fullness and satiety.
*Gatsroprotective: Basella alba has been found to enhance the production of mucus and promote the secretion of protective factors in the gastrointestinal tract. This mucosal protection helps guard against gastric damage, aids in the healing of existing gastric ulcers, and maintains a healthy mucus membrane.
*Anti-Ulcer Activity: Research suggests that the leaf extract of Basella alba exhibits anti-ulcer properties by reducing acid secretion, increasing mucus production, and inhibiting the growth of Helicobacter pylori bacteria, a common cause of gastric ulcers.
*Helps in healthy Pregnancy: Basella alba is a good source of folic acid, which is essential for pregnant women. Folate plays a crucial role in the early stages of fetal development, particularly in the formation of the neural tube, which later develops into the baby's brain and spinal cord. Adequate folate intake can help prevent neural tube defects and ensure proper fetal growth. Pregnancy often leads to an increased demand for iron, as it is necessary for the production of red blood cells and to support the growing baby's oxygen needs. Malabar spinach leaves are a rich source of iron, which can help prevent iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy and support overall maternal health.
*Improves mental activities: Basella may contain certain components that contribute to improved mood and mental well-being. It is a great source of antioxidants, including vitamin C and other bioactive compounds including essential nutrients such as folate, which is known to play a role in brain function and the production of neurotransmitters that regulate mood.
*Abundant source of fiber: Basella is rich in dietary fiber which contributes to its role as a digestive aid and promoter of optimal bowel function and healthy a gut microbiome.
Ideal Grow Methods: Vertical Grow Tube or specialized vine hydroponic grow system.
Season: summer plant that loves heat and direct sunlight.
Preparation: Basella is best prepared by blanching or steaming and served with a dressing sauce or soya sauce with chopped garlic.