What is a Pandan?
Pandan, also known as screwpine, is a staple herb in Thailand, Malaysia, and across of whole of Southeast Asia. It is used in many recipes and gives a unique taste to foods.
The leaves of this plant are 12-20 inches and are sold either fresh or frozen.
Certain species of this plant that grow in India and the Philippines produce edible fruits that look like large, red-orange pinecones.(1)
Uses of Pandan
Pandan has numerous culinary uses. The leaves can be boiled, juiced, or used as wraps. It can also be used to flavor meats. The fruits can be eaten raw and can also be made into marmalade.
Pandan fruits can be ground into an edible and highly nutritious paste.
The leaves of pandan can be pulverized to produce an emerald-green extract. Mature the leave, darker is the hue and deeper is the flavor.
The leaves can also be used to flavor both savory and sweet. They give a grassy vanilla flavor with a hint of coconut.
Nutrition Status Of Pandan
100 grams of pandan paste and raw fruit contains 321 calories, 2.2 grams of protein, 78 grams of carbs, 0 fats, 11% of the daily value of fiber, 10% of the daily value of calcium, and 9% of the daily value of phosphorus.(2)
Vitamin A, which is essential for eye health and the immune system, is present in pandan.
The plant is high in iron and helps in iron-deficiency anemia that helps in proper blood and oxygen circulation.
Health Benefits Of Pandan
The health benefits of pandan are not much researched, but its leaves, fruits, flower, roots, and oil have been used in non-western traditional medicine.
Reduces Arthritis Pain
Millions of people around the world are affected by arthritis that is characterized by joint pain.
Coconut oil infused with pandan leaves can be applied to give relief from arthritis aches.(3, 4) The pain relief can be because of the oil found in the leaves that are known to have anti-inflammatory effects. It can also be effective in easing headaches and earaches.
Human studies are needed to find its effectiveness in humans.
Controls Blood Sugar Level
Pandan help in managing blood sugar levels.
A study was done on 30 healthy adults who were given hot tea made from Pandanus amaryllifolius leaves. It was observed that those who drank tea recovered better from the blood sugar test than those who drank hot water(5)
More research is required to see the effectiveness of pandan in blood sugar.
Boosts Oral Health
It is also used to stop bleeding gums, but the effect needs to be studied more.
Heart Disease Prevention
Pandan leaves are good for the heart. They are an excellent source of carotenoids, a class of antioxidants.
It also reduces the risk of atherosclerosis which is the narrowing of arteries of the heart that occurs due to plaque build-up.
The dried crushed leaves of pandan are used for the topical treatment of minor burns, sunburns, and other skin problems.
The tannic acid present in pandan can provide cooling effects to the minor burns.(6)
Downsides of Pandan
Since pandan lacks research and studies, its side effects and interactions with medications are unknown.
If consumed in large quantities, pandan can have a laxative effect and could cause diarrhea.
Pandan flavored desserts, processed food, and candy can be loaded with sugar and provide few benefits. Therefore, limiting their intake would be good for the health.
Pandan is a highly versatile plant. Along with flavoring recipes and lending color and aroma to dishes, it can be used for numerous health benefits.
If not grown fresh in a particular area, look for its powder, extract, or frozen leaves for enjoying its various uses.