Here are a few edible flowers that you may be aware of, but never imagined that you could consume them for health benefits:
Roses have long adorned temples, garlands and even vases in Indian homes. These beautifully scented flowers contain phenolics, which are anti-inflammatory in nature. Roses are also replete with healthy vitamins and work to reduce the chances of heart disease and diabetes.
Kamal, or lotus, is another edible flower that is consumed in many homes. It has antioxidants and also helps to protect the heart and liver. Traditional Indian medicine uses lotus to reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It can also help with fever, colds and coughs and insomnia.
The lovely hibiscus is often offered to Lord Ganesha, but did you know that this flower has health benefits? Also known as shoe flower, you can add hibiscus to salads or steep the flowers to brew a nourishing and calming tea. The flower contains anthocyanins, which are a type of antioxidants that lower bad cholesterol and elevated blood pressure.
Better known as genda in India, marigold is a powerhouse of lutein, which is a carotenoid beneficial for the eyes. It helps maintain optimal eye health and keeps eye-related diseases at bay. You can use marigold to brew tea or garnish cold salads.
5. Banana Hearts
The purplish flowers of the banana are a staple in several Indian kitchens. They can be cooked into a delicious vegetable or even consumed raw. Banana flowers have a high content of fibre, protein and minerals, such as calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium.
6. Ginger Flowers
These edible flowers have the same flavour and aroma as the ginger root. Usually, the flowers are used in aromatherapy, but you can eat them raw. You can also substitute the flowers for ginger root in your cooking. It contains vitamins A, B and C, iron, calcium and phosphorus. It can ease nausea and minimize toothaches.
Sunflower is rich in Vitamin E and is best eaten raw to prevent the vitamin from getting destroyed. It may take you some time to get used to its bittersweet taste, but its health benefits - healthy hair and skin - make it worthwhile.
These are just a few edible flowers and their health benefits. India has several other edible flowers, like jasmine, radish flowers, saunf (fennel) flowers, and pumpkin flowers, which you can eat without worries while ensuring they have a positive effect on your health and overall well-being.