The Uses and Benefits of Epazote

Native to the Central and Southern Mexico and Guatemala, the epazote herb is known for its culinary and medicinal uses since ages.
Jyoti Babel May 2, 2019
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The name of the herb Epazote (pronounced eh-pah-ZOH-the), traces its origin from Nahuatl, the ancient language of Mexican Aztecs. In English, it literally translates to ‘stinky sweat’ – to reflect its strong taste and flavour.
Epazote is known by many names. In certain parts of Mexico, it is known as pazote, pazoli or ipasote. In English, it is often referred to as goosefoot, skunk weed, wormseed, or Mexican tea.
The epazote plant is short-lived, but it can grow all the year round. It can grow as tall as 4 feet in height and is characterised by dark green, long pointed and jagged leaves.

Epazote can grow quickly and is often seen growing in empty spaces by roadsides as a weed at places in North and South America and some parts of Europe and Asia.

What Does Epazote Taste Like?

The flavour profile of epazote is complex and can be best described as pungent with notes of oregano, citrus, tarragon, mint, and even petroleum tar.

The tender fresh leaves have a subtler flavour while the matured leaves come with a headier and stronger aroma. The fresh epazote leaves as well as its tender stems are used for culinary purposes.

Culinary Uses

Typically epazote is considered as a herb, but for certain food preparations, it is also used as a leafy vegetable.

Use of epazote as a tea base is quite prevalent and it is also a good source of essential oils. It often finds its use in soups, chillies, tamales, moles, quesadillas, stews, and pot beans dishes.
The flavour of epazote is often an 'acquired' taste but as you learn to use it, you will find that it does add a distinctively unique and authentic taste to many popular Mexican dishes.
The fresh leaves are usually easily available in its native country. If fresh epazote leaves are not available, the dried herb can also be used, although it is not as strong in flavour as the fresh ones.

Since the flavour compounds of epazote break, if cooked for long, it is always added towards the end of the cooking to retain maximum flavour.

Various Benefits of Epazote

Epazote is a powerhouse of immunity-boosting nutrients with a range of vitamins, like vitamin A, vitamin C and folic acid and also minerals like calcium, copper, manganese, iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. It contains some amount of protein too.
Regular consumption of epazote is great for your bones, as it helps in maintaining the mineral bone density thereby keeping the bones strong even as you age.
Epazote has carminative properties and hence is often added to bean and cruciferous vegetable dishes to reduce gas and bloating episodes in people.

Since it is fibre-rich, the consumption of epazote aids in relieving constipation and helps in smooth movements of the bowels.
It is used as a traditional medicine to treat intestinal worms and parasites. A cup of epazote tea is said to be quite helpful in relieving stomach and intestinal cramps.
The B-complex content in epazote is especially great for boosting metabolism. Epazote has 6 types of B vitamins and an abundance of folic acid. A single serving of it can offer you more than half of the daily folic acid need.
The potassium content found in Epazote is great for your heart health. Potassium relaxes the blood vessels and eases the working of the body’s cardiovascular system thereby lowering the occurrence of strokes and heart attacks.
Another benefit of epazote is that it is a great companion plant. When planted in the garden with other plants it helps in protecting other vegetables and flowers. The strong aroma of essential oils in epazote keep pests at bay.
However, here is a word of caution when using epazote. Huge intake of epazote can be toxic and can result in gastrointestinal issues.

This is because of the presence of certain organic compounds in it like folic acid and the potency of its essential oils. Pregnant women should especially restrain from consuming a large amount of epazote.
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