Callaloo is a dark-green leafy vegetable that is usually steamed, and is most times overcooked with salted fish, salted mackerel or with beans. In recent times, there has been a new trend, 'green juice', with callaloo as one of the main ingredients.
Callaloo has many nutrients and the nutritive value varies, depending on the state in which it is eaten, whether raw or cooked.
Callaloo, the nutrients and your health
The potassium helps to lower or maintain blood pressure and regulate heartbeat. Persons with kidney disease should not eat raw or cooked callaloo because it is a potassium-rich food.
The calcium makes strong bones and teeth and aids in the clotting of blood. After seven months of age, callaloo should be a part of the infant's diet.
The fibre in callaloo helps to form bulk in the faeces, makes a person feel less hungry after eating, slows the absorption of glucose in the cells, traps excess fat in the intestines and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. These functions of fibre in callaloo helps to reduce the risk of obesity, controls blood-sugar levels and lowers the risk of heart disease.
Raw callaloo is an excellent source of vitamin C and should not be overcooked so that this delicate vitamin can be retained.
The protein content is higher in cooked callaloo, but is not a high quality protein. Therefore, callaloo should be added to peas, beans, fish, chicken or meat to improve the protein quality of a meal.
Cooked callaloo provides more iron than raw callaloo. However, to get the iron in the blood, callaloo should be consumed with fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, such, tomato, oranges or West Indian cherries. The vitamin C helps to pull the iron from the callaloo into the blood to prevent anaemia (weak blood). Callaloo should not be consumed with milk or dairy products because the calcium in the milk prevents the iron from getting in the blood and increases the risk of anaemia.
Does callaloo increase blood pressure?
This is a myth! Callaloo, by itself, does not increase blood pressure. It has to do with the salt, powdered seasonings, butter, oil or margarine, and the salted/smoked/cured or processed meats and fish that callaloo is usually cooked with. Eating high-fat and high-sodium foods have been found to increase blood pressure. Callaloo is naturally high in potassium, which helps to control blood pressure.
Callaloo is no magic food, but should be a part of our diet on a regular basis.