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Blog Nutrition Sorrel Nutrition Facts, Health Benefits, And Side Effects

Sorrel Nutrition Facts, Health Benefits, And Side Effects

Sorrel belongs to the genus Rumex in the family Polygonaceae. It is characterized by fleshy triangular leaves that are arrow-shaped in cross-section. The flowers of sorrel are greenish-white with five petals fused into a tube; they are produced in small clusters in the leaf axils. Sorrel is native to temperate regions of both hemispheres. People throughout history have used sorrel as a culinary herb because of its acidic taste and high vitamin C content, which differentiates it from other common vegetables like spinach or broccoli. The leaves are eaten either raw or lightly cooked and the juice of this plant is used as an ingredient in sauces or garnishes.

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Sorrel can be found at local farmers’ markets, health food stores, and some grocery stores year-round. The leaves are usually available fresh; however, due to its high oxalic acid content (which makes it taste bitter), sorrel should only be consumed in moderation (11). Sorrel can also be dried and used as an herb in soups, stews, and sauces.

A staple of various diets in Africa and Europe for centuries, sorrel is packed with vitamins and minerals that have been linked to a variety of health benefits. Here we explore the nutrition facts about this leafy green, its health benefits, and potential side effects.

Sorrel Nutrition Facts

One cup (133 grams) of raw chopped sorrel contains (6):

  • Calories: 29.3
  • Protein: 2.66 grams
  • Fat: 0.93 gram
  • Carbs: 4.2 grams
  • Fiber: 3.86 grams
  • Vitamin C: 71% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Magnesium: 33% of the DV
  • Vitamin A: 30% of the DV
  • Manganese: 20% of the DV
  • Copper: 19% of the DV
  • Iron: 18% of the DV
  • Potassium: 11% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 10% of the DV
  • Vitamin B6: 10% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 7% of the DV

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Health Benefits Of Sorrel

Due to its nutrient-rich profile, sorrel has been linked to several health benefits:

Chronic-Disease Prevention

Sorrel is rich in the following antioxidants (20):

  • Phenolic acids
  • Flavonoids
  • Triterpenes
  • Carotenoids
  • Anthraquinones
  • Naphthalenes
  • Stilbenoids

These antioxidants fight damage caused by free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) – which contributes to aging and the development of chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Read More: Beet Greens Benefits, Nutrition Facts, And Side Effects

Eye Health

Sorrel also contains lutein and zeaxanthin – which studies show may protect against age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye diseases (14).

Blood Sugar Regulation

Sorrel has a low glycemic index, which makes it suitable for diabetics and people with blood sugar issues. Sorrel also contains high levels of fiber – which helps regulate the body’s insulin response to glucose after eating, preventing spikes in blood sugar levels (10).

sorrel

Blood Pressure Regulation

Sorrel contains potassium – which helps regulate blood pressure levels, particularly after meals (15). Potassium also keeps fluid levels balanced throughout the body to prevent edema (7). 

Heart Health

Studies show that dietary intake of vitamin K is inversely associated with coronary calcification scores – which suggests a protective effect against cardiovascular disease (4). Sorrel is rich in vitamin K.

Antioxidant-rich foods help your body fight oxidative stress – which can damage cells and cause chronic disease. Sorrel also contains high levels of vitamin C, which is a water-soluble antioxidant that helps protect lipids from becoming oxidized (23).

Cancer Prevention

Sorrel contains several antioxidants that might help reduce the risk of several types of cancer (1).  These antioxidants include phenolic acids, flavonoids, triterpenes, naphthalenes, stilbenoids, anthraquinones, and carotenoids. 

Improve Digestion And Gut Health

High levels of fiber in sorrel help to promote healthy digestion by preventing constipation and promoting regular bowel movements. Fiber also fuels the good bacteria in your gut,, which prevents the overgrowth of bad bacteria that may lead to disease or illness (9).

May Prevent Iron Deficiency Anemia

Many of the health benefits of sorrel are linked to its high levels of iron – which helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Sorrel is also rich in vitamin C, which aids the body’s absorption and use of iron. Studies show that women with a low dietary intake of iron and vitamin C may be at risk for developing anemia (13).

May Help Support Immunity

The high vitamin C content in sorrel – along with other antioxidants – has been shown to support the immune system and may help fight the common cold. Vitamin C also helps improve iron absorption and aids in wound healing (22).

May Help Soothe Skin Conditions

Vitamin C, found in high levels in sorrel, is often used to help soothe skin conditions like eczema. Vitamin C also helps protect collagen and elastin from damage caused by free radicals and plays a necessary role in the formation of collagen, which may improve the appearance of aging or damaged skin (16).

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sorrel

Side Effects Of Sorrel

Although this vegetable is generally safe, sorrel may have the following side effects:

Interaction With Certain Medications

Like most vegetables high in vitamin K content (e.g. spinach), sorrel should be avoided or limited by people on blood-thinning medications or warfarin (24). If you are on blood thinning medication, talk to your doctor or dietitian about vitamin K intake and how it might affect you.

May Worsen Certain Medical Conditions

Raw sorrel is also high in oxalates, which may be problematic for individuals with pre-existing kidney problems or conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract (e.g., Crohn’s disease) (5). 

Sorrel is also relatively high in purines – which may lead to gout or kidney inflammation, particularly in people with a history of these conditions (21). 

Allergies

Sorrel may cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to plants in the genus Rumex (17).

How To Eat Sorrel

Sorrel can be eaten in a variety of ways, including:

In Soups And Stews

Cooking sorrel releases its tart flavor, which adds depth to soups and stews. 

In Salads

Sorrel also adds a refreshing touch to salads. The tartness in sorrel compliments the flavor of rich and creamy dressings, such as blue cheese or ranch. 

In Drinks And Smoothies

This vegetable can be incorporated into juice and smoothie recipes for a vitamin-packed beverage. Useful in place of parsley and cilantro in many recipes.

In Vinaigrettes

Sorrel is often used in European-style vinaigrettes for salads. The tartness of the sorrel helps balance out the dressing, which may be too sweet or heavy without it. The leaves are also rich in calcium and iron. 

In Sauces

Sorrel is used for its tart flavor in sauces to accompany meat dishes like game or beef. Sorrel can also be blended into a sauce to use with poultry, seafood, vegetables, and pasta meals. 

In Relishes

The tart flavor of sorrel can be highlighted by combining it with other fresh ingredients like cucumbers and onions.

Read More: Microgreens Benefits, Nutrition, Side Effects, And How To Grow Them

sorrel

Sorrel Recipes

This vegetable can be added to salads, soups, or sauces to add a tart flavor. Some sorrel recipes include:

Asparagus & Sorrel Bisque (2)

This soup is low-calorie, high in fiber, and low in carbohydrates making it a healthy soup to be enjoyed all year round. Cook the large leaves of the sorrel and discard the smaller ones. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks green garlic (see Tips), sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable or no-chicken broth
  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups sorrel (see Tips) or baby arugula, and extra for garnish
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • Sliced radishes & ground pepper for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a large Cooking pot, heat butter and olive oil until the butter is foamy.
  2. Add the leeks, garlic and salt then let it cook as you stir occasionally. Stir in the broth and let it simmer over high heat.
  3. Add asparagus then adjust the heat. Let the mixture simmer. Stir occasionally and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes so that the asparagus becomes tender.
  4. Transfer the soup to a bowl and refrigerate uncovered for about 2 hours.
  5. Add sorrel to the soup then puree it in batches in a blender until smooth.  
  6. Serve then top with creme fraiche and garnish with sorrel, pepper, and radishes.

Servings: 8

Nutritional info: 153 calories, 8.9g carbs, 2.8g protein, 12g fat, 2.5g fiber

Sorrel Soup (3)

This simple soup blends in the taste of sorrel perfectly. You can eat it with hearty whole-grain biscuits or crusty bread. Also, if you prefer onions, substitute them for leeks. 

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 cups tightly packed sorrel leaves, stems, and veins removed
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh dill, chopped, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or more to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and cook for 5 minutes until soft. 
  2. Add sorrel in batches, and stir for 5 to 8 minutes until wilted.
  3. Pour chicken stock and water into the Dutch oven then stir in the potatoes, parsley, carrots, dill, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice.
  4. Let it simmer for about 1 hour so that all flavors combine.
  5. Puree the soup using an immersion blender until smooth then serve.

Servings: 4

Nutritional info: 380 calories, 37.5g carbs, 5.9g protein, 23.9g fat, 5.3g fiber

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Leek And Sorrel Galette (12)

This makes for a perfect vegan lunch.

Ingredients:

For the pastry

  • 100 g wholemeal flour
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 150 g cold butter, cubed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten ice-cold water, as needed

For the filling

  • 2 tbsp. butter, plus 2 tsp to bake
  • 6 leeks, trimmed: 2 finely chopped and 4 sliced lengthways, top to root
  • 1 large banana shallot, finely chopped
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 50 g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 50 g Gruyere, grated
  • 80 g sorrel leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions:

  1. To make the pastry, rub the flours and butter by hand until you have a breadcrumb texture. 
  2. Stir in the egg until the mixture forms clumps. Add some water if it is too dry then knead lightly until smooth. Wrap in parchment paper and wait for about 30 minutes
  3. For the filling, melt the butter in a deep pan until it lightly bubbles. Add the leek and shallot and sweat until softened and the shallot is translucent.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the cream, sorrel, and cheese. Season then let it cool for around 20 minutes.
  5. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. 
  6. Assemble your gallate by rolling the pastry into a circle 40 cm wide. It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle but it shouldn’t have any holes.
  7. Spread the filling all over except for 5 cm towards the edge of the circle. 
  8. Lay the sliced leeks on top. Cover the filling completely.
  9. Fold the edges inwards such that the edges of the filling are covered. 
  10. Transfer to a baking sheet, brush with the beaten egg, and dot the leek with the remaining butter. Bake for 30 minutes until the pastry turns golden brown. 

Servings: 6

sorrel

Sorrel And Almond Pasta Pesto (18)

Who says that sorrel is ideal for only salads and juices? Here is a sorrel pasta recipe you can try.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • About 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup toasted whole almonds
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 cups roughly chopped sorrel* leaves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Parmesan cheese for grating
  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • About 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup toasted whole almonds
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 cups roughly chopped sorrel* leaves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Parmesan cheese for grating

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta, rinse in cold running water and drain. Drizzle some oil so that it doesn’t clump.
  2. In a food processor combine garlic and almonds until finely chopped then add in the sorrel, lemon zest, ½ a cup of oil and salt. Whirl until blended. Ensure it remains coarse.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the pasta with the pesto. You can add another 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil if necessary.
  4. Serve then sprinkle some cheese on top and drizzle with oil.

Servings: 4

Nutritional info: 727 calories, 68g carbs, 15g protein, 47g fat, 5.8g fiber

The Bottom Line

Sorrel is a nutrient-rich green that provides many essential vitamins and minerals to the diet. This vegetable also contains antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body, which may help protect against certain cancers. The tart flavor of sorrel makes this green a great addition to salads, soups, sauces, or drinks.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Anticholinesterase, Antioxidant, Antiaflatoxigenic Activities of Ten Edible Wild Plants from Ordu Area, Turkey (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  2. Asparagus & Sorrel Bisque (2018, eatingwell.com)
  3. Baba’s Best Sorrel Soup (n.d., allrecipes.com)
  4. Dietary Intake of Vitamin K Is Inversely Associated with Mortality Risk (2014, academic.oup.com)
  5. Dietary oxalate and kidney stone formation (2019, journals.physiology.org) p
  6. Dock, raw (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
  7. Fluid balance concepts in medicine: Principles and practice (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  8. Gastrointestinal effects of low-digestible carbohydrates (2009, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  9. Health benefits of dietary fiber (2009, academic.oup.com)
  10. High Fiber Diet (2021,ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  11. Investigation of Oxalate Levels in Sorrel Plant Parts and Sorrel-Based Products (2014, researchgate.net)
  12. Leek and sorrel galette recipe (2021, redonline.com)
  13. Nutrient Intake and Anemia Risk in the WHI Observational Study (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  14. Nutrients for Prevention of Macular Degeneration and Eye-Related Diseases (2019,mdpi.com)
  15. Potassium and Health (2013, academic.oup.com)
  16. Role of Vitamin C in Skin Diseases (2018, frontiersin.org)
  17. Rumex acetosa – an overview (n.d., sciencedirect.com)
  18. Sorrel and Almond Pesto Pasta Recipe | MyRecipes (n.d., myrecipes.com)
  19. Sorrel Drink (2022, africanbites.com)
  20. The Genus Rumex: Review of traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  21. Uric Acid Nephrolithiasis (2022, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  22. Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview (2013, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  23. Vitamin C Inhibits Lipid Oxidation in Human HDL (2003, academic.oup.com)
  24. Warfarin and Vitamin K (2020, uofmhealth.org)

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