Chaya plants are spinach trees that grow up to a height of 6- 8 feet and are a member of the Euphorbiaceae family. The leaves are considered as nutritious and essential across the Pacific Rim and the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, where it grows by itself in the open forest. The leaves and shoots of the spinach plants are harvested young and then used as spinach which also has some benefits of chaya plant.
Chaya is a very common food in Mexico and can be cooked just like spinach and it pairs excellently with stir-fries. These are more nutritious than spinach and must be very carefully washed and cooked before consumption.
The Medicinal Benefits of Chaya Plant
The benefits of chaya plant helps in many ways.
- It helps in improving the blood circulation of the body. This process helps in the free flow of oxygen and keeps you active.
- Chaya plant(1) helps in digestion and prevents stomach infection. If you suffer from digestive disorders, this is a must for consumption.
- It is rich in protein and has twice the amount of protein found in spinach.
- It is very rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C is needed by the body for boosting immunity and also prevents the occurrence of flu, cough, and cold.
- Chaya plant is an excellent source of iron and prevents the risk of anemia(2) and low hemoglobin.
- As Chaya plant is rich in Calcium as well, it helps in strengthening bones and joints.
- This plant has anti-inflammatory properties and reduces swelling in your body. It also causes dis inflammation of veins and hemorrhoids
- It improves brain functioning, aids concentration, and boosts memory power.
- Eating this plant everyday helps in decongestion and disinfects the lungs.
- It also helps in weight loss as it is low in calories, so if you are working on losing your weight, this won’t hinder your diet.
How To Consume For Maximum Health Benefits of Chaya Plant
1. Chaya Plant Tea To Boost Immunity
6 chaya leaves, 2 cups of water.
Take water and boil them. Then add the leaves and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes. Drink thrice every day to see the difference.
2. Chaya Soup for Sore Throat
Properly cleaned leaves, 1 cup milk, basil, one crushed garlic clove, one small diced onion, chicken stock
- Take a heavy-bottomed pan and add chicken stock to it and put it to boil. Add Chaya leaves, chopped onions, crushed garlic pods, and cook for two minutes until you can see blanched leaves.
- Add milk to it and wait for it to cool down.
- Use a hand blender and blend it to a smooth paste.
- Cook for another ten minutes until the mixture is hot but not boiling. Serve it hot. You can also add some dried red chili to it.
[Read: Soothing Foods for Sore Throat]
3. Chaya Tamales for Better Digestion
3 garlic cloves, ¼ cup of chopped onion, ½ spoon green chilies, 1 cup of beef broth, 750 gms of tamale flour, 2 cups of chopped and cooked Chaya leaves, 200 gms of hot melted lard, ¼ cup of chopped coriander leaves, four corn husks.
- Use a blender and blend garlic, onion, chili, and broth. Keep it aside. Add the flour, Chaya, hot broth, salt, hot lard, coriander to the prepared blended mixture. Blend using your hand to mix it.
- Divide this dough in six and wrap in tamale leaves.
- Cook using a steam pot for an hour on high flame after the water boils well. Switch off the flame and let it sit for 20 minutes.
4. Chaya Plant Leaves with Scrambled Eggs for Weight Loss
2 tsp of vegetable oil, 2 tbsp white onion, ½ tomato, 1/3 cup of Chaya leaves, chopped neatly, and two cooked eggs.
- Take a pot and add washed Chaya leaves and cover with some cold water. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove, drain, and chop as required to cook.
- Heat a non-stick pan and add chopped onion. Saute and add tomatoes and Chaya plant leaves.
- Break the eggs in the pan and stir to combine adding some salt and pepper.
- Serve this with toasted bread, sliced avocados, or some fried plantains and beans.
[Read: Health Benefits of Broccoli]
- These leaves must be cooked very well as they contain cyanogenic glycosides, which produces hydrogen cyanide in case of tissue damage.
- Certain parts of the plant are poisonous if consumed.
- Chaya plant must never be cooked in aluminum utensils.
Chaya leaves are thick, so the tender stems are chopped and boiled as spinach when used for culinary purposes. The traditional method of cooking needed the leaves to be immersed and then simmered for half an hour and then be served with butter. They have been used to treat a lot of ailments like obesity, acne, kidney stones, and eye-related diseases. The stems and leaves have also been useful in treating indigestion, used as a diuretic, laxative, and also to strengthen fingernails.
1. Can Chaya Plant Be Eaten Raw?
No. The raw leaves are very toxic and are very dangerous if consumed. The right way to consume would be to clean it, chop it and boil it well to cook it.