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The Herbal Benefits of Sorrel

By Michelle Kerns

A traditional addition to soups, salads and sauces in Eastern Europe, sorrel is virtually fat-free and low in calories with a 1/2-cup serving of the raw leaves containing just 15 calories. Equally versatile as an herb or a vegetable, sorrel can be found at farmers markets or specialty grocery stores in early spring.

Prevent Eye Problems

The University of Maryland Medical Center says consuming adequate vitamin A can help prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in people over 50 years old. A study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2008 reported that a high intake of antioxidants like vitamin A may also lower your risk of cataracts. Sorrel is an excellent source of vitamin A, with each 1/2-cup serving supplying roughly half of the average adult's daily requirement, or about 400 micrograms of the nutrient.

Lower Your Heart Disease Risk

A healthy man needs 90 milligrams of vitamin C each day, while a woman should have 75 milligrams. A 1/2-cup serving of raw sorrel leaves contains around 32 grams of vitamin C, 36 percent of a man's requirement and 43 percent of a woman's. People with diets that contain plenty of vitamin C-rich foods like sorrel may be less likely to develop atherosclerosis and to suffer from a stroke or heart attack. For maximum vitamin C content, eat sorrel raw.

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Reduce Blood Pressure

A "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition" study published in 2012 determined that increasing your intake of magnesium may help lower your blood pressure. Another article, published in "Nutrition in Clinical Practice" in 2008, reported that you may experience greater reductions in blood pressure from magnesium consumed in food, not supplements. Fresh sorrel contains 69 milligrams of magnesium in every 1/2 cup, an amount that equals 17 percent of a man's 400-milligram daily requirement and 22 percent of a woman's 310-milligram recommendation.

Avoid Cancer

Healthy adults should consume 400 micrograms of folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B-9, each day. A diet that doesn't include enough is linked to a higher risk of certain types of cancer, including stomach, colon, pancreatic, cervical and breast cancer. Each 1/2-cup serving of sorrel supplies 102 micrograms of folate, or approximately 26 percent of your recommended daily intake. Cooked sorrel contains less, with 63 micrograms per 1/2 cup providing 16 percent of an adult's RDA.

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