Also known as the friar’s beard, agretti are a herbaceous plant that gives us spring. Agretti have a sour, slightly spicy flavor and are rich in beneficial properties.
Agretti belong to the group of vegetables and belong to the Chenopodiaceae family as chard and spinach. It is a typically spring herbaceous plant that can be found on the market from March to June.
The friar’s beard forms small bushes, it can be grown on poor and sandy soils or it is possible to find the wild species especially in coastal areas.
The leaves and tender stems obtained from the buds of the young plant are consumed from this vegetable, it has few calories, a good fiber content and is rich in water, mineral salts and vitamins that give it useful properties for our health. They are normally eaten cooked, but the more tender parts can also be eaten raw. Let’s now see their nutritional properties.
Agretti: calories and nutritional properties
Agretti are very rich in water and for this reason they have few calories, in fact a 100 g portion provides only 22 kcal. Carbohydrates and fiber are the most abundant macronutrients, 2.2g of carbohydrates and 2.3g of fiber per 100g of agretti. They have a reduced intake of vegetable proteins, while the intake of fats is irrelevant.
The friar’s beard is characterized by a good content of vitamins, especially vitamin A (392 mcg per 100 g of agretti), vitamin C and small quantities of vitamins of group B. agretti have a good calcium content (131 mg per 100 g of vegetables) along with phosphorus and iron.
Agretti contain antioxidants such as chlorophyll and carotenoids, responsible for the green and dark green color of this vegetable. Agretti also contain lutein, a carotenoid that we also find in spinach and chard, and which has a protective action against sight. For completeness of information, the table with the nutritional values of the agretti is shown below.
Nutritional values per 100g of agretti:
- Kcal: 22 kcal
- Proteins: 1.8 g
- Lipids: 0.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 2.2 g
- Fiber: 2.3 g
- Waterfall: 92.3 g
- Vitamin A: 392 µg
- C vitamin: 24 mg
- Phosphorus: 34 mg
- Soccer: 131 mg
- Iron 1.2 mg
Agretti: the health benefits
The nutritional characteristics of the agretti give this vegetable some beneficial properties for our health. The reduced caloric intake certainly makes it a suitable food for those who follow a low-calorie diet, moreover, the good fiber content gives the agretti a satiating and useful effect for intestinal regularity.
The presence of mineral salts such as calcium and phosphorus are useful for the bones, while vitamins have important anti-aging effects that protect cells from aging. Let’s find out in more detail the benefits of the friar’s beard.
✓ They increase the sense of satiety
A 200g portion of agretti provides about 5g of fiber, or 25% of the fiber intake. The positive role of fiber for human health is now known, in fact, fiber allows to slow down gastric emptying giving a greater sense of satiety. Furthermore, it improves intestinal functions and decreases the duration of intestinal transit, consequently reducing the contact times with potential harmful compounds.
✓ Promote bone health
Too often it is thought that milk and dairy products are the only sources of calcium, however, vegetables such as agretti are an excellent source of calcium and other mineral salts that are friendly to our bones. The friar’s beard, as well as other green leafy vegetables, have a good content of calcium but also of phosphorus, and both participate in the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth.
In particular, a study that green leafy vegetables have a protective effect on bone mass due to their content of alkalizing minerals.
✓ Benefits for the skin
Agretti are useful not only to protect the skin, but also to give us a healthy and golden tan. This is possible thanks to their content of vitamin A, a fat- soluble vitamin that is present in vegetables in the form of carotenoids (precursors of vitamin A).
Vitamin A not only helps maintain the integrity of skin and mucous membranes, but also stimulates the production of melanin, a pigment produced by melanocytes located in the skin, which determines the color of the skin. In addition, carotenoids (such as those contained in agretti) help protect the skin from the negative effects of the sun’s rays.
✓ A defense for sight
Nutrition also plays an important role in eye health, in fact, many vision disorders are the consequence of nutritional deficiencies. In this sense, the agretti offer benefits to the sight as they contain lutein, a carotenoid known for its protective action for the sight.
Specifically, lutein carries out two fundamental actions: first of all it is a component of the spotted pigment of the retina which acts as a “screen”, protecting the eyes from ultra violet rays which are harmful to the retina; moreover, lutein has an antioxidant action and prevents degenerative vision disorders, such as macular degeneration.
✓ They counteract premature aging
Among the properties of agretti we also find the antioxidant one. Specifically, these vegetables have good amounts of chlorophyll and vitamin C, two micronutrients that possess important antioxidant properties, capable of hindering the action of free radicals so that they do not damage cells. In other words, chlorophyll and vitamin C counteract premature aging by helping us prevent many chronic cardiovascular and neurological diseases.
Furthermore, the presence of vitamin C also improves the absorption of the vegetable iron contained in agretti (or other foods) because it transforms the trivalent iron, which is not assimilable, into bivalent iron, which is the form of iron that the intestine is in. able to absorb.
How to use agretti in the kitchen
Agretti can be used for many recipes. Buy fresh agretti and consume them within a few days because they deteriorate quickly. Before eating them, it is necessary to carefully clean them of any soil residues. Start by cutting the roots and the less tender parts, then wash them roughly under running water and finally immerse them for half an hour in a bowl of cold water with lemon juice and a few ice cubes, in this way the color is preserved. of vegetables and the dispersion of vitamins is limited.
You can keep the younger and more tender parts aside to eat them raw, for example added to a mixed salad. Raw vegetables preserve nutritional characteristics and beneficial properties, this is because the heat and cooking time are two factors that can act on the loss of some vitamins.
Considering that agretti are mainly eaten cooked, it is better to reduce cooking times to a minimum, therefore it would be preferable to avoid boiling or at most cook them for 7/8 minutes in boiling and lightly salted water.
When boiling it is advisable to choose steam cooking for about 10-15 minutes, since in this case the moderate heat allows to better preserve the content of vitamins and mineral salts. It is also a cooking method that does not require special seasonings, concentrates the flavors and does not alter the color of the vegetables.
Alternatively, the agretti can also be cooked in a pan over moderate heat for about 10 minutes. In this case, to limit the addition of oil, you can use a non-stick pan and grease it with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or distribute the oil more evenly using a spray.
We advise you to season the raw or cooked agretti with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. These vegetables also go well with spices such as pepper and chilli, perfect especially if you want to cook the agretti in a pan with a light sauce made with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a clove of crushed garlic.
The uses and combinations in the kitchen for the friar’s beard are infinite: it is excellent as a side dish to combine with meat, fish or cheese-based main courses; it is perfect for preparing omelettes and fillings for savory pies, crepes and quiches; finally, its tender leaves are delicious to enrich fresh spring salads.
Contraindications of agretti
Currently there are no known contraindications to the consumption of agretti but it is necessary to exclude this vegetable if you have a specific allergy towards this vegetable.
For those suffering from irritable colon it is preferable to limit the consumption of agretti since its insoluble fiber content could worsen or exacerbate the symptoms with abdominal pain and swelling. It is useful to reduce the intake of agretti even if you suffer from kidney stones since agretti, as well as spinach and chard, contain oxalates that can promote the appearance of stones.