The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Integrating Lemongrass into Your Diet

Most people know lemongrass as a folk remedy to various conditions. This powerful plant is commonly consumed in the form of lemongrass tea, but it can also be taken orally or inhaled as aromatherapy to treat various health conditions.

Lemongrass contains various substances that many believe have antioxidant properties. Are you still looking for reasons to incorporate this potent plant into your diet? Stick around as we discuss some of its nutritional and health benefits.

Nutritional Composition of Lemongrass

According to data from the USDA, one tablespoon of fresh lemongrass provides you with about 5 calories, most of which come from its fiber and protein content.

Some of the minerals in the plant include:

  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Iron

Lemongrass also provides trace amounts of vitamin A, C, folate, and niacin. However, consuming the herbal plant will have little impact on your daily vitamin needs.

It's worth noting that when flavored with oil, lemongrass provides significantly more calories. In this form, the product is a combination of cooking oil and lemongrass extract. Some brands of lemongrass-flavored oil may contain up to 40 calories per teaspoon.

Health Benefits of Lemongrass

Here are some of the health benefits of consuming lemongrass in various forms:

Anti-inflammatory Properties

Inflammation is a natural process and the body's response to injuries and bacteria. However, when inflammatory cells stay in the body too long, it leads to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is believed to play a role in various critical health conditions, including heart disease and stroke.

A Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center report has shown that two of lemongrass' main compounds, citral, and geranial, have anti-inflammatory properties. These potent compounds prevent the release of inflammation-causing markers into the body.

May Reduce Cancer Risk

Lemongrass may also reduce your risk of various forms of cancer. The citral in lemongrass is also believed to have anti-cancer properties. Lab and animal studies have shown that various compounds in lemongrass may limit the growth of tumors or cause the death of cancerous cells.

These powerful compounds may also work by boosting your immune system so that your body can counter the onset of the disease on its own. Moreover, lemongrass tea is often used in herbal therapy during chemotherapy and radiation. However, you should only attempt it based on an oncologist's recommendation.

Lower Blood Pressure

Consuming lemongrass may help lower your blood pressure. A 2012 observational study monitored the effect of lemongrass tea and green tea among 72 male volunteers. It found that systolic blood pressure dropped in those that consumed lemongrass tea. It also discovered an increase in the diastolic blood pressure of the volunteers while their heart rate lowered.

While the results are positive, experts have warned men to avoid using lemongrass in excess to avoid a dangerous drop in heart rate or increased diastolic pressure. An extremely low heart rate may cut blood flow to the brain, while an increased diastolic pressure can cause cardiovascular problems.

Regulate Cholesterol

Like blood pressure, high cholesterol may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Although not all cholesterol is bad, LDL cholesterol can cause a buildup of plaque on the walls of your blood vessels.

A study showed that lemongrass oil extract lowered LDL cholesterol in animals, and the reduction was dependent on the dose consumed. Further studies in 2011 confirmed the safety of 100mg of lemongrass oil daily. However, more research is required to see if lemongrass oil has the same effect as lemongrass consumed in other forms.

Weight Loss

Lemongrass tea can be used for detoxification by triggering metabolism and helping you lose weight. However, most research carried out on lemongrass in relation to weight loss so far is informal. What's more, lemongrass is a natural diuretic, so consuming enough of it may help you drop some weight.

To reach your weight loss goals faster, you can replace sugar-rich drinks with lemongrass tea in your diet. However, it's best not to rely on lemongrass tea alone to avoid the risk of its side effects. Instead, alternate between lemongrass tea and other unsweetened drinks or even water.

How to Use Lemongrass

Lemongrass is considered safe in most cases, but excess consumption may have minor side effects like:

  • Dizziness
  • Increase Hunger
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Increase urination

There isn't enough research to specify a standard dose for any condition. Therefore, you may have to consult a health practitioner for the dosage recommendation of this plant. To avoid suffering from side effects, start with one teaspoon of dried lemongrass powder and increase it if your body tolerates it.

Bottom Line

Lemongrass is super healthy and easily accessible. You can mince or pound the plant and add it as flavoring to various foods. While you may want to increase your intake of this herb to harness its benefits, ensure that you do not use it in excess.