Although not one of the more popular spices like garlic or ginger root, Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citatus/flexosu) is still a spectacular spice in its own right. Although it smells like the lemon it’s named for, its taste has more spicy, herbal, and fragrant qualities. While we at Kitchen Fusions love it for both its taste and smell, it is better known around the world for the oils it bears. Lemongrass is in fact in the top ten oil bearing crops around the world. Between the oils Lemongrass bears and the other benefits the plant provides, it’d be a worthy addition to most herb gardens or addition to a diet.
The most unique part of Lemongrass is probably its oils. With seven different types of oils, Lemongrass can provide quite the array of benefits. Its most prominent oil, citral, contributes that strong lemon scent, the aroma used both in foods and perfumes. A few other oils are also used to infuse aromas into perfumes. Other oils, like geraniol and borneol, repel insects, making it useful to plant in a landscape or herb garden. Finally, some of the essential oils have been known to kill bacteria and have anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant properties, making it a great salve.
The unique-ness of its oils aside, Lemongrass contains many great nutrients as well as flavonoids as is so common with many spices. A tablespoon of lemongrass provides .4 milligrams of iron (2% daily recommended value for women, 5% for men) and 1% of the daily recommended value of magnesium, potassium, folate, phosphorous, and zinc. While definitely not a concentrated vitamin pill by any means, it certainly won’t hurt to add into your diet. Different flavonoids within lemongrass act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Antioxidants can prevent damage to different cells, reducing risks of both heart disease and arthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties have been known to help hardening of tissues as well as helping lung infections or injuries. Additionally, many flavonoids are known to slow the growth of cancerous cells as well as helping to prevent cancer in general.
Whether you use Lemongrass for its smell, taste or were just looking for some all natural health benefits, we hope you learned something new about this spectacular spice and will use it to some benefit in future!