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Current tisane: Ashitaba 明日葉

 

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Rainy days call for cozy sweaters and a warm cup of tea. Ever since my terrible New Year’s diarrhea, I’ve been enjoying ashitaba, otherwise known as “Tomorrow’s Leaf”, the most out of the other herbal teas in my stash.

I discovered it last September during my vacation in Bali. Funny how you find special stuff in the last place you’d expect …. Krisna!! While strolling through the humongous outlet, I was intrigued by the name of this tea leaf (and obviously its extensive list of nutrients) on the label, as I’ve never heard of it before.

Without hesitating, I grabbed the 100g package into my shopping basket.

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What is it

After digging the Internet for months, I learned that ashitaba is well worth its hype. Apparently, it’s considered an adaptogen1, and its potent healing properties are comparable to ginseng, jiaogulan, licorice, and cordyceps. So if you incorporate ashitaba to your side-effect-free health regimen, you’re really going to stay healthy and certainly keep stress at bay.

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These dry leaves come from the long biennial plant (average growth height of 50-120 cm) with a botanical name Angelica keiskei kodzumi. Since its genus is the long, beautiful Angelica, ashitaba is also related to celery, lovage, caraway, and dong quai.

Screen shot 2015-02-17 at 3.28.04 PMAshitaba, or what the Chinese refer to as Ming Re Ye, is native to the lush Hachijo Island on the Pacific coast of Japan. It’s known for its rapid rate of growth, especially during the warmer seasons. For at least 2 millennia, ashitaba leaves have been used as food as well as a longevity tonic. It’s a well-guarded secret among the elite 1% for centuries when it comes to living a long, healthy life.

If you cut the leaves or stems off, you will see rich, golden sap on ashitaba stalks. These are the concentrated region of chalcones, the class of flavonoid compounds unique to ashitaba that we’re going to cover in a minute.

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Why Ashitaba

Nutrients (100g)2

Xanthoangelol . . . . . . . . . . . 95.476 mg
Hydroxyderricin . . . . . . . . . 31.615 mg
Chalcone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138.916 mg
Beta carotene . . . . . . . . . . . 31.331 mg
Chlorophyll . . . . . . . . . . . . . 607.356 mg
Vitamin A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18798.762 IU
Vitamin B1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.113 mg
Vitamin B2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.196 mg
Vitamin B6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1.535 mg
Vitamin B12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.05 mg
Vitamin C . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 277.466 mg
Vitamin E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31.961 mg
Biotin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34.978 ug
Pantothenic acid . . . . . . . . . . 4.021 mg
Dietary fiber . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26.789 g
Manganese . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227.345 mg
Calcium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 475.784 mg
Iron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49.985 mg
Potassium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.045 mg
Sodium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 388.713 mg
Protein . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.053 g
Coumarin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48.913 mg

Chalcones

As you can see, just one cup of ashitaba tea is nutrient dense. The star cache of nutrients, however, is what scientists refer as chalcone.

Chalcones is a polyphenol (antioxidant) that has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory properties3. As with all antioxidant-rich foods, ashitaba is an excellent herb for slowing down the natural aging process. Fact: The chalcones in ashitaba make up for an antioxidant powerhouse that’s more potent than the total sum of EGCG in green tea.

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Antioxidant value of teas, compared in a study conducted by Linda Hayano of Natural Health & Wellness Farm, CA, and Dr. Andreas Sterner of Analytik Jena USA, inc., TX

These phenols are extremely rare in nature, which is why ashitaba is highly prized in Japan. Right now, the Izu islands just off of Japan houses artificially cultivated ashitaba plantations.

The 2 major constituents (and the most widely studied ones) in this powerful chalcone cocktail are xanthoangelol and 4-hydroxydecirrin, first discovered by Dr. Kimiye Baba, M.D., of Osaka University of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

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Health benefits45

  • Super high antioxidant capacity (to slow aging on a cellular level)
  • Keeps your brain young: Stimulates NGF (nerve growth factors) production (a protein important for development, survival, and repair of neurons in nervous system; increase in NGF boosts memory, intelligence, reaction time, attention span, concentration, etc; prevents Alzheimer’s))
  • Prevents cancer
  • Natural laxative, sedative, and diuretic
  • Anti-diabetic
  • Regulates blood sugar levels
  • Prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol
  • Promotes healthy blood circulation
  • Blood-purifying (contains chlorophyll, the stuff that makes plants green; dubbed “green blood” because it’s structurally similar to the human blood)
  • Improves vision
  • Strengthens immune system (contains organic germanium, a healing and detoxifying mineral to guard against viruses and bacteria)
  • Aids cell reproduction
  • Enhances liver and kidney function
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Treats hypertension
  • Treats gastric ulcers and other GI tract disorders
  • Demonstrates anti-HIV activity
  • Treats hangover
  • Improves digestion
  • Treats PMS and menopause (treats anemia, reduces bloating, removes stagnation, treating cramps and pain, increases blood flow)
  • Reduces muscle and joint pain
  • Removes toxic waste
  • Anti-metabolic syndrome
  • Supports healthy metabolism
  • Regulates leptin (satiety hormone) and ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels
  • Aids natural sleep cycles
  • Reducing visceral fat
  • Eases chronic fatigue
  • Promotes healthy and youthful complexion

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Yes, you can easily mistake ashitaba as a giant parsley.

 

How to enjoy

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Some people still enjoy eating freshly harvested ashitaba as their veggie with rice. Others add them to their blenders to get those chalcones into their juices. Since fresh ashitaba leaves are rare in the market and that I don’t juice, my favorite way to enjoy ashitaba is having it as tea.

I filled 4 teaspoons of ashitaba leaves in my big teapot. It’s more than enough serving to last you for a whole day, and that could easily be 9-12 cups (and more, I lost count) of goodness.

Wait 2-3 minutes for it to steep. You can tell your tea is ready when the liquid turns into a sheer green color, around 2 shades lighter than your pure green tea.

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Now drink this, and enjoy. I love it best for winding down before sleep, as it contains absolutely zero caffeine and also significant amounts of melatonin, that sleep-promoting hormone in these foods.

If you haven’t already eaten lots of vegetables on a regular basis, you might not like the lush veggie fragrance bubbling out of this cup. Might not be similar in taste, but for me, this mood-lifter works similarly as forget-me-not tea, with ashitaba simply verdant and forget-me-nots grassy but woodier. What makes them my top picks for going to sleep is that they’re both mild, smell herbaceous, super smooth in body and ultra relaxing. It never ceases to amaze me how something as simple as a cup of tea can wonders for your health.

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Where to buy

Krisna


Sunset Road
Jl. Sunset Road No. 88
Abian Base
Kuta, Bali 80361
+62 (0)361 750 031
Visit Facebook page at Krisna Oleh Oleh Khas Bali
www.krisnabali.co.id

Operating hours:

M – S 08:00am – 10:00pm

Other location(s):

 
 
 
 
 


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via Japan Bio Science Laboratory Co., Ltd (1) (2) / Ashitaba: Nature’s Longevity Herb

 Footnote(s):

  1. ReWild ThySelf: Ashitaba Health Benefits []
  2. As written on label. []
  3. Wikipedia: Chalcones []
  4. The Japan Food Chemical Research Foundation: Studies on Angelica Keiskei “Ashitaba” []
  5. Literary Research Services: Organic Ashitaba: An Amazing Superfood with a Broad Range of Benefits []
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