Flowers to eat? Yes, some types of flowers are edible and can be added raw to recipes. Perfect in this case are the salads to which the flowers give color but also antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties. In the previous post we talked about the rose and nasturtium, today we talk about the properties of calendula and pansy when they are added to our dishes. However, a warning is required first. Avoid picking flowers along the streets or in the meadows as you cannot know if the area is polluted or if pesticides have been used. In addition, there is always the risk of confusing the flowers. Therefore, use only the edible flowers that you can buy ready for use or the flowers that come from your garden, which you know and have personally dealt with. Finally, flowers can cause allergic reactions in predisposed people so the advice is always to start gradually, with very small quantities that can then increase gradually, without exaggerating.
Calendula officinalis, also known as pot or common marigold, is one of the flowers with the highest content of tocopherol, an antioxidant that counteracts the aging processes (Pires et al, Food Chem 2017). Not only that, calendula also has one of the highest levels of carotenoids (Nowicka et al, Antioxidants, 2019). According to the researchers, this characteristic is due to the intense orange color of the calendula flowers. In fact, the carotenoid present in the largest quantity in edible flowers is lutein that gives the yellow pigments. But lutein does not only give color, this substance is also beneficial for the health of eyesight by protecting the eye from age-related damage (Buscemi et al, Nutrients, 2018). In addition, calendula flowers also stand out for their high content in triterpenoids, which are an anti-inflammatory substance (Nowicka et al, Antioxidants, 2019). Finally, calendula flowers also showed a neuroprotective action. In fact, calendula helps to inhibit two enzymes, AChE and BuChE, and treatments for Alzheimer's disease aim precisely to inhibit these two enzymes to improve communication between nerve cells (Nowicka et al, Antioxidants, 2019).
The pansy, scientific name viola tricolor, does not only embellish gardens and flower beds with its bright colors. The viola belongs, indeed, to the family of edible flowers and is characterized by interesting antioxidant properties. The violet contains phenols such as gallic acid and flavonoids such as rutin, quercetin and anthocyanins, as well as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium (Rop et al, Molecules, 2012 - Gonzalez Barrio et al, Food Chem, 2018). The violet also brings iron, manganese and zinc. Not only that, viola is also associated with antitussive properties and is also helpful in case of bronchitis, asthma and colds (Rimkiene et al, Medicina, 2003). Finally, based on scientific research, the viola is also anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, antimicrobial and also has a mild sedative action (Sadeghnia et al, Biomed Res Int, 2014).