For health, cooking and more

Heart of palm is a nutrient-dense vegetable harvested from the hearts of certain types of palm trees. It has many health benefits and is a versatile addition to dishes.

The apical meristem, commonly referred to as the heart or bud, is the part of a plant from which all new leaves grow. In palms, it is in the center of the large crown of leaves at the top of the trunk.

The bud harvested from some palms is called the heart of palm.

This article explores the health and nutritional benefits of heart of palm. It also discusses the different ways to cook this versatile vegetable.

Heart of palm is an off-white or cream-colored vegetable harvested from the buds of certain palms, such as coconut and saw palmetto. When cut, the heart of the palm is cylindrical and annular, resembling a leek.

The vegetable has a crunchy texture and subtle taste, and it takes on the flavor of its seasoning.

It is a versatile vegetable that can be:

  • pot
  • canned
  • eaten alone
  • added to salads
  • used as an alternative to meat

Heart of palm grows natively in tropical and humid regions, such as Central and South America and Southeast Asia.

Farmers remove the palm crown from the top of the tree to harvest it. Then they skin it off to expose the edible inner core. It undergoes further processes to make it ready for cooking.

Learn more about the 15 healthiest vegetables.

Other names

Palm heart is also known by other names:

  • Palm heart
  • saw palmetto
  • palm kernel
  • palm cabbage
  • chonta
  • marsh cabbage

Heart of palm is known for its range of nutritional and health benefits.


Palm heart contains polyphenols. These compounds are “free radical scavengers”, which neutralize free radicals, preventing them from causing damage.

Having too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants in the body can lead to oxidative stress. This can increase the risk of chronic diseases such as:

Learn more about how free radicals affect the body here.

An older study from 2014 showed that plant hearts of palm exhibited significant antioxidant properties due to their considerable chlorogenic acid content.

Similarly, a 2017 study showed that leaf and berry extracts from the Sabal palm have anti-cancer properties. Other studies have also shown anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties.

However, a study 2020 found that canning can lead to a loss of its antioxidant activity and fiber content.

Nutrient density

Heart of palm is rich in essential vitamins and minerals while being low in fat, calories and carbohydrates. The nutrient content of heart of palm varies depending on whether it is canned, raw, or cooked.

According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)canned heart of palm contains:

The heart of palm contains many essential vitamins and minerals.

Potassium is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in the human body. It helps to prevent hypertension, regulates heart rate and is vital for protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism.

Phosphorus is another essential mineral. It’s a important element of DNA, RNA, bones and teeth.

It also contains zinc, which is important for the body’s immune function and wound healing. And it supports the growth and development of the baby in the womb.

Apart from minerals, heart of palm also contains essential vitamins. It contains several types of B vitamins, including vitamin B6, riboflavin, and folate. Vitamin B is crucial for functions such as:


Palm heart is low in calories, carbohydrates and fats. This makes it a healthy option for people on weight loss programs.

It also has a high vegetable protein, water and fiber content, which can help a person feel full.

A study 2018 on plant-based diets in overweight people found that plant-based protein in a plant-based diet led to improved body composition and weight loss.

Body tissue repair

Palm heart contains many essential amino acids, such as lysine and leucine, which are needed for body tissue repair and protein synthesis.

Similar to vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, heart of palm is also high in protein, making it a favorite vegan protein source. A 2019 study found heart of palm protein to be a suitable substitute for animal protein sources in the food industry.

Proteins provide the building blocks for tissue growth, cell renewal and repair during wound healing.

Learn more about high protein foods for weight loss.

Heart health

Chlorogenic acid is a polyphenol present in large quantities in the heart of palm. A study 2020 discovered that this compound has cardiac protective properties. It can lower blood pressure and help prevent thrombosis and atherosclerosis.

Palm heart is also rich in soluble and insoluble fiber. This not only helps a person’s digestive health, but also lowers cholesterol level.

Learn more about cholesterol levels by age.

Blood sugar regulation

Using heart of palm as a substitute for highly processed foods containing refined carbohydrates and saturated fats may help reduce insulin resistancewhich may prevent certain conditions.

Insulin resistance leads to an increase in blood sugar, which in turn can lead to conditions such as:

Although it is one of the few vegetables to high in protein content, heart of palm may not have enough protein to meet a person’s dietary needs. A person may need to add other protein sources to their diet.

Markets typically sell heart of palm as a canned product to extend its shelf life, so its sodium level may be higher than when raw. It is essential to wash canned hearts of palm thoroughly to remove the brine, which may contain salt.

Learn more about how to eat a balanced diet here.

A person can eat heart of palm raw, but this is uncommon because this vegetable is very perishable. Therefore, it is often boiled or otherwise processed immediately after harvest.

Heart of Palm is incredibly versatile and a person can add it to many dishes. A person can grill it, sauté it, sear it, boil it, or pickle it. As the heart of palm has a down carbohydrate content, people can also choose to add it to their keto diet.

Here are some ways to cook with heart of palm as an ingredient:

  • toss chopped or sliced ​​hearts of palm into salads
  • stir-fry hearts of palm and add them to casseroles or omelettes
  • make a dip by combining finely chopped heart of palm with mozzarella cheese, grated parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream and green onion
  • toss it in a seasoned flour mixture and eat it as a substitute for calamari
  • braise it and sprinkle it lightly with spices and herbs
  • use it as a pasta substitute
  • dice it and use it as a meat or seafood substitute

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about heart of palm.

Can you eat heart of palm raw?

Yes. However, markets mainly sell it canned because the heart of palm is highly perishable.

Is heart of palm bad for you?

No. Heart of palm is a nutrient-dense vegetable that is down high in fat, low in carbohydrates and high in fiber and protein.

Is heart of palm fattening?

The heart of palm is down in fat and calories, making it unlikely to contribute to weight gain. It is also high in fiber and water, which can help a person feel full and full.

Heart of Palm is a low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie vegetable rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. It offers various health benefits, including promoting weight loss, good digestion, immunity, heart health, and general well-being.

This vegetable is versatile and can be cooked in different ways and added to various dishes. A person can consume it raw, sautéed, boiled, sautéed, or added to soups and salads.


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