Healthy diets don’t change over time—but some food and ingredient trends are continually changing. As health professionals, your clients expect you to have all the answers when it comes to the latest food trends. To keep you in the know, we are offering updates on "ingredients in the news." This issue’s featured ingredient: Hearts of Palm.
Hearts of palm are part of a larger trend: substituting vegetables. We see “toasts” made of sweet potatoes, pizza made from cauliflower, and zucchini “noodles.” Similarly, hearts of palm is a veggie-forward replacement for starches or seafood.
Since hearts of palm come from the inner core of a palm tree, it’s important to ensure they are harvested sustainably. Responsibly sourced hearts can come from trees with multiple stems, which allows them to be harvested repeatedly from the same plant.
Not to be confused with palm oil, hearts of palm are non-starchy vegetables with a subtle, artichoke-like flavor. They are a low-calorie food: A ½ cup serving provides about 20 calories, 1.5 grams of net carbohydrates, and half a gram of fat.*
Hearts of palm fit with many popular ways of eating because they can be used as a non-starchy grain replacement—shredded and formed into “noodles”—or as a vegan replacement for fish. Like all foods used for ingredient “swaps,” the diet impact depends on the nutritional content of hearts of palm compared with the food it’s replacing.
Hearts of Palm “Pasta”
As a pasta replacement, hearts of palm reduce calorie and carbohydrate content, but also reduce B vitamin content compared to whole grain or enriched wheat pasta.
Hearts of Palm “Fish”
Vegan recipes sometimes feature hearts of palm to replace seafood because of their mild flavor, texture, and shape. This substitution reduces calories, but also significantly reduces protein compared to fish.
*USDA National Nutrient Database, Hearts of palm, canned.
Disclaimer: Conagra Nutrition does not provide medical advice. Information is intended for educational purposes only. For specific nutrition guidance, please consult your regular healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.
Pictured at the top of this page are vegan “calamari” using hearts of palm in place of squid.