Today we’ll be answering the question: what is loroco. If you’re like me, you probably associate this ingredient with pupusas. Or maybe you’ve never even heard of loroco.
Either way, there’s a real lack of nutrition information about it available in the United States. But for Latinos who eat this ingredient regularly, we deserve to know more about it and how it can benefit us!
So let’s take some time to learn about loroco. In this blog post we’ll read about it’s nutrition value and health benefits. We’ll also discuss how to incorporate it into a balanced diet.
Let’s get started!
What is Loroco?
Loroco, or fernaldia pandurata, is an edible flower bud that is commonly used in Central American food. Although it’s a flower, it is used similarly to an herb or a vegetable in cooking.
While mostly known for its use in countries like El Salvador and Guatemala, you may also see loroco used in Mexico as a type of quelite (edible herb or wild green).
What does it taste like?
Loroco has a very distinct taste. It has a flavor similar to a more tangy, pungent asparagus. Think, nutty, acidic, and woody. It’s a complex flavor which helps give Central American food its unique flavor.
|16% daily needs
|Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
|58% daily needs
|6% daily needs
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)
|16% daily needs
(Daily needs calculated using Recommended Daily Allowances for an adult woman)
Loroco is a nutrient dense food. There is very little research looking at health benefits of loroco, specifically. However, we can draw some conclusions based on the nutrient content.
For instance, loroco is a good source of vitamin B1 (thiamin). Thiamin is an essential B vitamin, which help us turn the food we eat into energy. High intake of thiamin may reduce your risk of cataracts (4).
Loroco is also a good source of another essential B vitamin, Niacin, which may help improve cholesterol and protect skin health.
It is also an edible flower. Edible flowers are an emerging area of interest in nutrition research, and may be excellent sources of powerful antioxidants like anthocyanins and flavonoids (5).
Using canned loroco
In the United States, you’re most likely to find canned or jarred loroco. So let’s take a second to think about how that impacts nutrition.
100 g of canned/pickled loroco has (6):
|11% daily needs
|3% daily needs
As you can see, canned loroco is a source of Vitamin C and Calcium.
How to eat
Loroco is most commonly seen as a filling in pupusas! You may also see it served with eggs, in tamales, or in salsas, especially in Central American food (7).
If you’re trying to build a balanced plate, you can treat it like a non-starchy vegetable.
Let’s take the example of loroco and cheese pupusas. In this meal, the corn dough in the pupusas provides carbohydrates and fiber. The cheese provides protein and fat, and the loroco provides a source of non-starchy vegetables.
This is pretty close to a complete, balanced meal. But the loroco is likely a small serving.
To get a full serving of vegetables with this meal I recommend serving the pupusas with extra vegetables. The curtido that is typically served with pupusas is a great example.
So to get a complete balanced meal with adequate vegetables, serve the loroco and cheese pupusas with a generous helping of curtido.
Here are some ideas of how you can use loroco in simple, nourishing meals at home!
Where to find it
In the United States, you’re most likely to find these flower buds canned or frozen.
Look for it in the canned vegetables section of your local Hispanic market. You may also see it as an option at Central American restaurants.
Loroco is a unique food in that it’s an edible flower. We know it’s a rich source of B vitamins, and we can eat it in the same way we eat other non-starchy vegetables.
This is important to point out because often as Latinos we don’t think our heritage foods have very many vegetables. But this is usually because the nutrition resources out there don’t give our cultural foods the credit they deserve or account for unique foods like loroco.
If you’re a Latina looking for nutrition resources that are inclusive of your cultural foods, vheck out my free 5-day Latino meal planner. Sign up below to get your copy!