SORREL AS A NUTRACEUTICAL -
Throughout the world many individuals
consume sorrel unaware of its health benefits. In Jamaica
this refreshing and nutritious drink is consumed as
a part of its Christmas tradition.
Recent advances in medicine and a greater understanding
of human nutrition have led researchers to recognize
the existence of a number of substances normally occurring
in plants, known as nutraceuticals, which can enhance
human health. There is now an acceptance of the link
between diet and health and this has evolved into the
concept of nutraceuticals and functional foods.
Dr. Stephen Defelice defines nutraceuticals
as “any substance that may be considered a food
or part of a food which in addition to its normal nutritive
value provides health benefits including prevention
Nutraceuticals have been associated with
the prevention and or treatment of at least four life-threatening
diseases – cancer, diabetes, heart disease and
hypertension. Examples of nutraceuticals are food supplements
that contain substances called phytochemicals. These
include vitamins, antioxidants, dietary fibre and free
fatty acids. Sorrel contains a wide range of vitamins
and minerals including vitamin C, calcium, niacin, riboflavin
and a group of compounds called FLAVONOIDS which not
only give its deep red colour but are now being recognized
as a powerful antioxidant which scavenges the body of
free radicals that can cause deadly diseases if they
are not removed from the body.
It is also believed that the FLAVONOIDS
present in sorrel may be a useful deterrent against
certain types of cancer and help to enhance the body’s
immune system in general. Recent studies conducted by
the Northern Caribbean University, Jamaica, revealed
that sorrel could kill certain types of cancer cells.
Sorrel tea is consumed in many countries such as the
Sudan, Senegal and Egypt on a daily basis and researchers
in Mexico have reported a significant reduction in the
triglyceride levels of persons who consume sorrel. Elevated
levels of triglycerides are associated with heart disease.
Scientists from the Mexican Institute
of Social Security (IMSS) proved that ‘sorrel
water’ significantly decreases cholesterol and
triglyceride levels in the blood and contributes to
protection against heart diseases. As a preventative
measure in heart diseases it is a good habit to consume
sorrel water daily to decrease the risk of heart disease.
It helps to prevent the clogging of arteries resulting
from excessive levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
in the blood. Sorrel has also been recognized for its
diuretic properties and as an aid to weight loss. Abigail
Aguilar Contreras, a Mexican professor in Sciences recommends
the daily drinking of a litre of sorrel water, prepared
from 10 grams of sorrel, engaging in physical exercise
under doctor’s supervision and taking other measures
such as avoiding cigarettes, stress, excess calories
and saturated fat.
The Hope Gardens Jamaica, Sorrel Chutney
and Sorrel Squashes, and several other new exotic sorrel
products are delicious, nutritious and convenient ways
of enjoying the many benefits of sorrel. These products,
rich in vitamin C, are currently available at leading
supermarkets and gift shops. This suite of sorrel products
produced by the Scientific Research Council (SRC) and
marketed by Marketech Ltd. (its subsidiary), under the
Hope Gardens Jamaica label, are available for divestment.
The SRC is assisting with the sustainable
development of a local sorrel industry, cognizant of
the associated health benefits and the potential to
create employment and earn foreign exchange.
Public Education Unit
April 30, 2002