Samphire is a luscious green plant that belongs to the parsley family. Primarily grown around salty mudflats and shorelines, samphire is also known as sea asparagus.
Samphire is primarily of two main types – rocky samphire and marsh samphire – with the major differences being in their habitat. Discovered some 500 years back, samphire thrives in areas surrounded by salt-spraying sources. It is a decently low-calorie food and is nearly free of fat, which makes it a fantastic choice for weight-conscious individuals who are on a calorie-controlled diet.
Samphire’s health benefits include promoting repair of worn-out muscles and tissues, enhancing muscle contraction, slowing down the aging process, improving bowel movements, helping defend the body against pathogens, enhancing the skin, aiding in weight loss, assisting in blood circulation, supporting the formation of healthy bones, reducing inflammation, and increasing the quantity of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
What is Samphire
Samphire, also known as sea asparagus, can be seen thriving around salty mudflats and shorelines. While marsh samphire flourishes on salty mudflats, its rocky counterpart grows primarily on rocks and cliffs. Typically, the varieties of samphire grown in parts of Eurasia and across the United Kingdom are more popular than any other type of samphire.
However, marsh samphire is more common of the two. Scientifically known as Salicornia europaea, marsh samphire is perennial and, therefore, thrives exceedingly well in bunches. At present, samphire is an extremely sought-after plant during summers for its fresh flavor, bright green leaves, and salty tang. Though you can serve it alone, there are several other uses of it too, such as using it for garnishing with seafood and other meals.
Historically, samphire has primarily been used as a food, similar to seaweed, though with more research being done to discover and identify its nutritive value, this unusual sea veggie is consistently gaining popularity around the world.
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What is the nutritional profile of samphire that makes it so beneficial?
The nutritive composition of samphire is extremely inspiring. With almost no fat, this vegetable is a delight for weight-conscious people. Also, this veggie comes with scores of essential minerals such as sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Also, samphire offers a good amount of dietary fiber along with several essential vitamins such as A, B, and C.
Furthermore, this vegetable provides a unique compound known as fucoidans found mostly in sea vegetables and exhibits spectacular antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Along with its low-calorie (about 100 calories per 100 grams of serving) and low-fat properties, samphire serves as a nutritious and delectable addition to your daily diet.
What are the Top Samphire Benefits?
While all varieties of samphire offer numerous health benefits, the following 10 stand out:
1. Enhances Muscle Contraction
Muscle contractions aids in the stability and movement of your joints along with helping you maintain a good posture. Samphire has the right combination of nutrients that are extremely beneficial to your muscles. Samphire is a good source of dietary sodium that helps impart flexibility to the muscles.
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2. Promotes Repair of Tissues
Protein is accountable for the repair and rebuilding of the structures that have undergone any damage. The protein in samphire has been scientifically-proven to build, repair and maintain muscles, and burn calories.
3. Improves Bowel Movements
Dietary fiber facilitates easy passage of stools without causing any constipation or discomfort. Eating food rich in fiber such as samphire helps in increasing the nutrient uptake ability of your body by reducing harmful and unwanted inflammation in the gut. Dietary fiber also comes handy in reducing the risk of colon cancer along with adding bulk to the stools that support regular bowel movement.
4. Slows Down Aging
Vitamin C in samphire acts as a natural shield against harmful free radicals that play a leading role in causing cellular damage to speeding up the aging process. Vitamin C also aids in reducing the size of large skin pores, thanks to its astringent properties on the skin.
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5. Fights Pathogens
The white blood cells are the primary line of defense of your body. They help in destroying harmful disease-causing intruders before they cause infection. Samphire is a rich source of Vitamin C which increases the production of white blood cells and, therefore, safeguarding your body during flu or when pathogens are likely to affect your body.
6. Supports Blood Circulation
Samphire contains a good amount of iron, an important nutrient that is known to enhance red blood cell production along with boosting your metabolism. Dietary iron also facilitates the transportation of oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body along with reducing the risk of several ailments such as anemia.
7. Supports Weight Loss
Foods low in fats and calories are ideal for people trying to shed those extra pounds. Samphire is an extremely beneficial natural food that consists of very low fat and calorie count and boosts the metabolism of fat and to facilitate a slow but steady weight loss.
8. Builds Healthy Bones
Calcium, coupled with potassium and sodium in samphire, helps build healthy bones, avoids easy fractures, assists in the formation of a blood clot, adds flexibility to the muscles, and improves muscle contraction.
9. Reduces Inflammation
Samphire is known for its tremendous anti-inflammatory properties. On tropical application, it relieves inflammation and swelling, tackling various health conditions and diseases such as skin disorders and rheumatism. Samphire is also useful to reduce the inflammation caused by certain painful conditions, including arthritis.
10. Increases Beneficial Gut Bacteria
Probiotic bacteria, also known as beneficial bacteria, strengthens the digestive system by facilitating better absorption of food. Regular intake of samphire is one of the easiest ways to improve the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut, thanks to the fiber-rich nature of samphire.
3 DIY Recipes with Samphire to Try Today
1. Samphire with lemon, olive oil, and butter
Things you need:
- Ground black pepper and sea salt
- One small knob of butter
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 100 – 200 grams of marsh samphire
- Lemon wedges
Start by picking samphire, removing all tough stems and the root. Wash and rinse the samphire thoroughly, to dispose of sand and grit, and break up the multi-branched, larger pieces into smaller ones. If you have a whole, uprooted samphire, you can expect losing up to one-third of it during the cleaning process.
Boil a large pan of salted fresh water, add the samphire and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Now drain and season it with pepper, add some olive oil, and toss with the butter. Serve hot.
2. Spaghetti with samphire and salmon
Things you need:
- 500 grams of fresh marsh samphire
- 350 grams of spaghetti
- One or two tablespoons of olive oil
- 500 grams of wild sea trout fillets or organic salmon
- Ground black pepper and sea salt
- Juice of half a lemon
Choose and wash samphire as in the first recipe. Boil water in a large pan, add salt generously and add some spaghetti. Boil it for 8 to 9 minutes. Finally, add samphire to the pan.
In the meantime, heat a small quantity of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Now season the fish fillets, and add them to the pan and gently fry until fully cooked ( it will take around 2 to 3 minutes for a side to cook). Now flake the cooked fish and remove any bones you may find while flaking the skin.
Drain the samphire and spaghetti, toss them back in the hot pan. Add butter, enough black pepper, and olive oil, and toss them together. Move them to warmed plates and sprinkle the flaked fish over it. Garnish with some black pepper powder and lemon juice.
3. Samphire fritters with fresh tomato salsa
Things you need:
- 50 grams of plain flour
- One tablespoon olive oil
- 200 grams of marsh samphire
- One egg (separate the yolk and white)
- A pinch of salt
- 100ml water
- Groundnut oil
For the salsa:
- 500 grams of ripe, full-flavored tomatoes
- Lemon juice
- A pinch of sugar
- Two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- One small red onion, peeled and chopped
- Ground black pepper and salt
How to prepare
- Start with making the salsa. Put tomatoes in a wide-mouthed bowl, pour over some boiling water to cover, and leave it for 30 seconds – then drain! Peel the tomatoes properly, cut to quarters and scoop out the seeds, so that you get seedless, skinless sweet tomato flesh.
- Now chop the flesh, mix it properly with the rest of the salsa ingredients. Next, set it aside and get started with preparing the samphire.
- Pick the samphire as in the first recipe; however, you can keep it in large pieces here. Rinse well and pat it dry.
- Mix the flour with the egg yolk, water, salt, and oil, then beat to make a smooth paste.
- Now add 5cm depth of oil to a heavy-based, deep pan and reach up to 175°C. Just before frying, gently beat the egg white till it starts holding stiff peaks, and fold it to the batter
- Lastly, dip the samphire fronds into the batter, ensuring they are well covered. Start dropping a few at a time in the hot oil pan. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes till it turns golden brown, scoop out with a spoon, and drain carefully on a kitchen paper. Serve with the salsa.
Things to Keep in Mind While Using Samphire
While samphire is generally safe to consume regularly, still pregnant and breastfeeding women must take the required precautions. Rock samphire carries furocoumarins that makes some individuals more sensitive to the sunlight, leading to a reaction called phytophotodermatitis.
Samphire’s sales and growth have witnessed a massive surge of late. The health benefits of consuming this herbal plant are numerous and have, therefore, contributed to its immense popularity, making it worth a try for every health-conscious person. So now that you know the benefits of samphire, it will be easier for you to include it in your diet. But while using samphire, make sure you keep in mind its side effects and take the required precautions.