Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is a nutritious leafy green vegetable and a highly sought-after green in the Mediterranean region. It has become an important part of a healthy and balanced diet that’s enjoyed raw or cooked. This leafy green is often added to salads and can also be used in a wide variety of foods, including soup.
Sorrel’s green pigment is a sign that the vegetable contains antioxidants. Sorrel is also a great source of numerous minerals and vitamins, including vitamin A and is sometimes used medicinally. You can use sorrel as you would any leafy greens, like spinach or kale.
Sorrel can be a good healthy addition to your daily diet. Fresh sorrel is low calorie and low carb, it can be very appealing to people following restrictive diet plans and those looking to lose weight. Also, people following a gluten-free diet can consume sorrel. Also, people following low-carb diet plans like keto will benefit from consuming sorrel. Sorrel has many nutrients and offers substantial amounts of valuable micronutrients.[i] Also, it might provide specific health benefits.
Prevention And Treatment Of Cancer
Sheep’s sorrel is the main part of Essiac tea, a herbal tea blend that’s rumored to treat breast cancer and prevent other diseases like diabetes and even HIV/AIDS.[ii] Nevertheless, there is no enough evidence to support sheep’s sorrel medical benefits. So, many health professionals won’t recommend using sheep’s sorrel to cure chronic diseases.
Protection Against Chronic Diseases
Diets rich in fiber might help protect against specific health conditions, including type II diabetes, obesity, and cancer.[iii]
Promotes Weight Loss And Bowel Regularity
A one-cup serving of sorrel provides approximately 4g of fiber that helps in maintaining optimal bowel movements. Also, dietary fiber helps control blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Furthermore, fiber-rich foods are filling and will keep you feeling full for extended periods, which can eventually result in weight loss or promote proper weight management.[iv]
Promotes Healthy Skin And Maintain Eyesight
Fresh sorrel is rich in vitamin A. Vitamin A helps promote healthy skin, nails, hair and maintain eyesight.[v]
Improves Reproductive Health
Studies show that any diet rich in vitamin A might help boost reproductive health.[vi]
Fresh sorrel is a good source of vitamin A. Vitamin A helps boost the immune system to keep functioning properly. You will also get vitamin C, an essential antioxidant that plays a major role in helping the body ward off infections.[vii]
One cup of sorrel has 4.26 g of carb, most of which is fiber. This makes it a very satiating and filling vegetable. Sorrel can be a very nutritious staple on low-carb diets since it’s high in fiber and low in calories.
One cup serving of sorrel is an excellent source of proteins with 3 grams of this valuable nutrient.
Sorrels are pretty low in fat and contain less than 1 gram of fat.
Minerals And Vitamins
Sorrel contains vitamin A. one-cup serving of sorrel contains about 5,320 UI, which is approximately 106% RDA of vitamin A, 64mg, which is about 106% RDA of vitamin C, and 4% RDA of folate. Also, you get tiny amounts of pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.[ix]
If eaten in moderation (amounts commonly found in food), sorrel is safe. However, it’s also important to note that sorrel contains high levels of oxalic acid, meaning they can be harmful to eat in large amounts because this could lead to oxalate poisoning.[xi] Adverse effects might include damage to the gastrointestinal tract, liver, and kidneys. In its dried form, sorrel might be unsafe for pregnant women and children.
Sorrel doesn’t seem to be an allergen. Although allergies to sorrel are rare, some people might experience an allergic reaction. Some of the most common allergic symptoms to sorrel include trouble breathing, sneezing, teary eyes, vomiting, and hives.[xii] If you suspect an allergic reaction after consuming sorrel, you should consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
It’s important for you to understand the difference between sorrel’s most popular varieties before adding them to your meals.
Also called dock, garden sorrel belongs to the Polygonaceae family and grows across the globe, including the United States. Garden sorrel is a fresh, leafy green veggie. You’ll often find this vegetable in the produce section of your local grocery store. Garden sorrel can be used to make jellies, juice, or tea.
French sorrel is another popular variety of sorrel available as a tea, tonic, or herb at different naturopathic markets and a few grocery stores. It’s more acidic than the garden sorrel.
The leaves of the sorrel are green with a ‘shield’ shape. They are lance-shaped green and can grow up to 12 inches in length. These leaves are sharply acidic but juicer.
Sorrels have small, green flowers, which eventually change to reddish-brown. The flowers have both sexes.
Sorrel is one of the many perennial herbs that belong to the Polygonaceae family. Herbs belonging to this family are widely spread in many temperate regions. Sheep Sorrel is a herb that’s indigenous to Europe but has, over the years, spread to the United States. It’s a beautiful but annoying invader that grows in gardens and lawns as well as grassy slopes and meadows. The weed sprouts from small spreading rootstocks and has acidic thin triangular leaves with small reddish or yellow flowers.
Sorrel isn’t as popular in the United States and is therefore not frequently found in American meals or American cookbooks. However, the French are known for regularly using sorrel in their cooking. The sorrel herb was very popular amongst the ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians.
Sorrel grows perennially. The female and male parts of the herb grow on different plants. Common varieties of sorrel include the spinach dock, garden sorrel, sheep sorrel, and fresh sorrel. However, the garden and French sorrel are the most popular varieties. The leaves are sometimes used to treat ringworm, itchy skin, or fevers. When fresh or dried, the leaves can be used as a laxative or diuretic. Overall, sorrel can be consumed raw like spinach or lettuce in a salad or sandwich.
How To Prepare Sorrel
The leaves of sorrel have an acidic taste that some people compare to the lemon zest. Also, sorrel adds a flavor to green salads and can also be used in stews, sauces, and soups.
Sorrel’s acidity is the main reason why these greens are regularly used with fatty meals like egg or cheese dishes. For instance, you can use it as a topping for more fatty dishes like salmon. Also, sorrel has, over the years, been used to make tea. Nevertheless, many sorrel tea recipes require you to use dried Jamaican sorrel.
Sorrel Storage Tips And Safety
After you buy sorrel, loosely, but carefully wrap the fresh sorrel in a paper towel and place them in a plastic bag. You can then store them in your refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. Sorrel remains fresh for 1 -2 weeks. Like other fresh herbs, sorrel can also be stored in a freezer, but the texture might change if frozen.
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- [i] Bauman H, Lines K. American Botanical Council. Food as Medicine: Sorrel (Rumex acetosa, Polygonaceae). 2016.
- [ii] National Cancer Institute. Essiac/Flor Essence (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version. National Institutes of Health. 2018.
- [iii] Kaczmarczyk MM, Miller MJ, Freund GG. The health benefits of dietary fiber: Beyond the usual suspects of type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. Metabolism. 2012 Aug 1;61(8):1058-66. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2012.01.017
- [iv] Cleveland Clinic. Improving Your Health With Fiber. 2019.
- [v] National Institutes of Health. Vitamin A: Fact Sheet for Consumers. Updated February 14, 2020.
- [vi] National Institutes of Health. Vitamin A: Fact Sheet for Consumers. Updated February 14, 2020.
- [vii] National Institues of Health. Vitamin C: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2019.
- [viii] U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Dock, raw. Updated 2019.
- [ix] National Institutes of Health. Folate. Updated June 3, 2020.
- [x] U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Dock, raw. Updated 2019.
- [xi] Stopps G, White S, Clements D, Upadhyaya M. The biology of Canadian weeds. 149. Rumex acetosella L. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 2011 Oct 17;91(6):1037-52. doi:10.4141/cjps2011-042
- [xii] Food allergy overview. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Updated 2020.