Kangkong or water spinach is one of the very familiar green leafy vegetables used in the South and South-East Asian cuisine. It is tropical plant grown as a vegetable for its tender shoots.
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The water spinach plant features smooth, hollow stems similar to watercress, and therefore, is called as hollow stemmed vegetable (Kung Shin Tsai) in China. Its green, arrowhead (lanceolate) shaped leaves widely vary in size from 2.5 to 8 cm in breadth. White, trumpet-shaped flowers with purple center appear later in the stages but are not produced in the actively harvesting plant.
Kangkong greens are very low in calories and fats. Nonetheless, its succulent leaves carry plenty of vitamins, lead in the front by vitamin-A (6600 IU/100 grams), in addition to being rich in antioxidants and minerals.
100 grams of fresh leaves carry just 19 calories. For the same reason, it is one of the exquisite greens often recommended by the dieticians in the cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs for their overall antioxidant, low-calorific and low-fat properties.
Fresh water spinach leaves carry abundant levels of phenolic antioxidants such as carotene-β, lutein, xanthin, and cryptoxanthin.
Raw, fresh kangkung leaves carry excellent levels of ascorbic acid. 100 g of greens provide 55 mg or 92% daily equired values of vitamin-C. Vitamin-C is a powerful water-soluble antioxidant which helps as free-oxygen radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger, and thus protect the human body from various disease processes.
Water spinach greens are one of the most abundant sources of vitamin-A,; similar to that of other common greens like spinach, kale, watercress, etc. 100 grams of fresh greens compose of 6300 IU or 210% of daily recommended values of this vitamin. Vitamin-A is essential for mucosal integrity, health of skin, hair and vision. It also works as anti-cancer, anti-aging factor at cellular level in the humans.
They are also rich in the several B-complex group of vitamins such as riboflavin (8%), niacin (5.5%), vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine-7%), folic acid (14%), etc, that play a vital role in the metabolic functions.
Additionally, the greens also compose minerals such as iron (21%), calcium (8%), potassium (7%), magnesium (18%), manganese (7%) and phosphorus (5.5%). Magnesium and calcium take part in the bone and teeth mineralization, and rhythmic function heart. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Kangkong greens are abundant sources of health benefiting nutrients which when consumed on reguar basis found to prevent osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, and vitamin-A deficiency, and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases, and colon and prostate cancers.