The pápalo, also known as quirquiña or pápaloquelite, is an edible herb native to Mexico, Central, and South America. It has transcended gastronomy thanks to its semi-sour flavor that is perfect to accompany a good carnitas taco or to control cholesterol levels.
Pápalos are herbaceous plants and can reach up to 1.5 m (5 ft) in height. Their bluish-green leaves are oval, almost circular, with a wavy margin and translucent glands; they measure about 5 cm (2 in). They bloom yearly, and the flower releases a small dry fruit that cannot be opened (achene or cypsela) and contains only one seed.
According to the health portal of the Government of Mexico, the pápalo has great health benefits, such as controlling cholesterol levels, preventing eye problems, and relieving toothaches.
If you want to know more about this food to combat high cholesterol, American Post News shares its multiple benefits and how to include it in your diet.
What is pápalo?
The pápalo is characterized by its green leaves, with an aromatic and strong flavor, resembling the wings of a butterfly, hence its name, which derives from the Nahuatl “Papaloquílitl,” where “pápalotl” means butterfly, and “quilitl,” quelite or edible wild herb.
The consumption of this wild green is a very ancient practice. In pre-Hispanic times, the Aztecs used pápalo as a vegetable to accompany food and give it its characteristic bitter flavor. Enjoy it in a rich vegetable salad can be a good food option to include in a Mediterranean diet.
How to include pápalo in the diet?
The pápalo is a home remedy in traditional medicine and can also be incorporated as a rich green sauce. It is one of the ingredients used to make guacamole; therefore, grinding it to prepare spicy and healthy preparations is a very original way to take advantage of it.
It can also be used to season your meals. You can dehydrate it to grind its leaves and keep it in the cupboard as if it were oregano or these spices that give flavor to the dishes. After all, its most common use is to season various dishes, such as soups, sauces, beans, and salads, to complement Mexican snacks. The leaves of pápalo can be used to flavor soups, salads, beans, stews, guacamole, and sauces. It is even used as a substitute for cilantro.
According to the Mexican Government website, among the hidden benefits that this herb could have, it is said to have properties that inhibit respiratory diseases and help reduce inflammation and pain caused by rheumatism. It is also a powerful remedy to control cholesterol levels and is rich in antioxidants and minerals such as calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Because of its high calcium, potassium, and phosphorus content, pápalo is an excellent choice for people who are deficient in any of these nutrients or suffer from conditions such as anemia. At the same time, because of the antioxidants it contains, it helps improve the skin’s appearance.
The pápalo can also improve sight quality, strengthen the digestive system, and even be a remedy against bad breath for its high contribution of chlorophyll. In digestive ailments, it acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, promoting the expulsion of gases accumulated in the intestine and stomach, providing relief.
Eating it fresh and raw is advisable to preserve its benefits so the body can better use it.
Knowing a little more about the benefits of pápalo, we invite you to consume it regularly, discovering firsthand all the benefits it can bring to your health.
How to grow pápalo?
Pápalo is sown towards the end of winter, directly in the field, or it can be germinated in a greenhouse for six weeks before transplanting. It is usually broadcast sown with settling irrigation. It has a low pest index, so it usually does not require pesticides. It can be harvested after the third month by pruning the tender leaves, leaving branches to regenerate.
It grows best in warm-humid or sub-humid climates and in loamy to clayey soils with the presence of well-drained organic matter. The optimum temperature for germination ranges from 25º to 30º C (77º to 86º Fahrenheit). It requires direct sun or light shade.