Is it safe to eat ferns?

In this brief guide, we will discuss the question, “is it safe to eat ferns?”. As well, we will discuss what are edible ferns, what are the edible species of ferns, how are ferns used in cooking, what is the nutrient content of ferns, and other concerns about ferns. 

Is it safe to eat ferns?

Yes, it is safe to eat ferns, however, you need to eat edible species of ferns, not all species are edible, and some of them are toxic. There are three more consumed ferns, the bracken fern, lady fern, and ostrich ferns.

Edible ferns are young fern, which is found in the form of furled fronds and are consumed as cooked vegetables. You can find them at the beginning of the spring season and before that, the ferns may be found all opened.

What are the edible species of ferns?

The most popular species are bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina), and ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). However, there are more edible species of ferns, such as royal fern (Osmunda regalis), cinnamon fern (O. cinnamomea), and others.  

How are ferns used in cooking?

Nowadays, ferns are used in cooking all over the world, therefore, there are different ways to prepare ferns to eat. Ferns have many nutrients which provide a lot of health benefits.  

What is the nutrient content of ferns?

Raw ferns have a lot of minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and low-fat content. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, below are listed the nutrient content of ferns present in 100 grams.

  • 88.7 g of water;
  • 34 calories;
  • 4.55 g of protein;
  • 0.4 g of total fat; 
  • 5.54 g of carbohydrate;
  • 32 mg of calcium;
  • 1.31 mg of iron;
  • 34 mg of magnesium;
  • 101 mg of phosphorus;
  • 370 mg of potassium;
  • <0.82 mg for each mineral (zinc, copper, and manganese);
  • 4.98 mg of niacin;
  • 181 µg A vitamin.

What are the health benefits of eating edible ferns?

As you check, the ferns have a lot of good nutrients which can provide many health benefits to the body. According to Nutrition and You, below are listed some of the health benefits of eating ferns.

  • The presence of antioxidants, many vitamins, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids will assist the maintenance of your organism’s health;
  • The presence of antioxidants neutralizes free radicals which damage the cells, so eating ferns will assist to maintain the health of your cells;
  • The A vitamin and the antioxidants are linked to the prevention of cancers;
  • Ferns have polyphenolic flavonoids, which contribute to the reactions of the A vitamin in the organism;
  • C vitamins are linked to the production of collagen, which is necessary for the repair of tissue;
  • The mineral content in the ferns helps to keep the body’s strength, and also assists in reducing the blood pressure, which makes good for the circulation and the heart;
  • Eating ferns also contributes to improving brain function.   

What is the amount that federal authorities recommend for daily ingestion of vegetables?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that adults eat 2 or 3 cups of vegetables daily. The World Health Organization suggested that adults eat 400 grams of edible vegetables daily, to prevent a lack of micronutrients in the body. 

Where can I buy ferns?

You may not find ferns in all grocery stores, however, when it is the season of ferns, you may easily find them in farmer’s markets.

How can I store ferns?

You can store fresh ferns in the refrigerator, however, it is recommended to wrap them in plastic paper. The ferns can be fresh for 1 or 3 days. You also can cook them and store them in the freeze.  

What are the signs of spoiled ferns?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spoiled food may have changed the appearance of the food in its color, fresh aspect, texture, odor, and taste. If you noted some of the signs of spoiled foods, throw them away to avoid foodborne illness.  

What is foodborne illness?

Foodborne illness can occur when humans eat food contaminated with microorganisms, chemicals, or spoiled food. The contamination of food can happen in any part of the manufacturing food, also in shipping, commerce, and at home. To know more, click here.  

What is a recipe for fresh ferns?

You can find many recipes on the internet. If you click here, you will check a complete recipe for sautéed fiddlehead ferns, which you can serve in 20 mins. 

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have discussed the question, “is it safe to eat ferns?”. As well, we have discussed what are edible ferns, what are the edible species of ferns, how are ferns used in cooking, what is the nutrient content of ferns, and other concerns about ferns. 

References

https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169405/nutrients Accessed: 05/11/2022

https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/fiddlehead-ferns.html Accessed: 05/11/2022

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddlehead Accessed: 05/11/2022

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p1116-fruit-vegetable-consumption.html Accessed: 05/11/2022

https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/disease-prevention/nutrition/activities/technical-support-to-member-states/promoting-fruit-and-vegetable-consumption Accessed: 05/11/2022

https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2016/03/25/protecting-your-family-food-spoilage Accessed: 05/11/2022

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.