The biodiversity that we eat – Diario El Mundo

Huazontles, purslane, quelites and many other edible herbs in Mexico are part of the biodiversity we have … have you tried them?

Aylin R. Jimenez

The world of Orizaba

World Biodiversity Day is celebrated every 22nd May, a date indicated in the Calendar to raise awareness in the world on the importance of protecting the biological resources and global biodiversity that make up our nature, not just the different species of plants, animals or microorganisms that exist. , but also the genetic diversity within each of them, as well as the enormous variety of ecosystems that make up our planet.

Biodiversity is the living fabric of our planet. It is the foundation of human well-being now and in the future, and its rapid decline threatens nature and people alike.

herbs and food

Mexican cuisine is characterized by the use of a great diversity of ingredients that include native edible plants domesticated in Mesoamerica (Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras), by the ancient inhabitants of this territory.

Here we tell you what are some of the most popular edible plants in Mexico.


It is a small plant that looks like an elongated tree and whose flowers are ball-shaped. It has a high nutritional value, contains vitamins A, B, B1, B2, B3, C, E, as well as minerals such as phosphorus, iron and calcium (quantities similar to milk).


Stimulates the memory, improves the digestive system and colitis.

It has great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that improve the function of the immune system.


You can cook huauzontles stuffed with cheese, on pizza, seasoned, in broth, with eggs, with mole or in tacos.


Purslane is one of the most common, has various medicinal uses, but can also be incorporated as food. Contains vitamins A, C and E, also minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron. Its properties are anti-inflammatory and it is used as an analgesic, antioxidant and circulation stimulant.


Contains Omega-3 acid, more than any vegetable.

Provides Vitamin A, B and C.

Provides magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron.

Helps against constipation and inflammation of the urinary tract.


It can be eaten raw in salads or steamed. Its juice is also extracted to add to a smoothie.


It is a medicinal plant with large leaves, probably larger than the palm of your hand. It has analgesic, antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. Contains protein, fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron and phosphorus.


In medicine:

Helps reduce fever and inflammation of the kidneys

It soothes stomach pains

Avoid indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, respiratory problems (mainly asthma and bronchitis).

Helps to combat nervousness and insomnia, thanks to the sedatives it contains.


It is used in the artisanal cuisine of southern Mexico to wrap tamales, meat or fish with its large leaves. You can also prepare mole or condiment, accompanied by chillies. With this leaf you can also prepare dishes such as pilte or mixiote, originating from the states of Tabasco and Veracruz where the meat is wrapped in these fragrant leaves.

In addition, it should be noted that its pungent odor is used in the aroma of tamales, stuffed peppers and green mole, traditional Mexican dishes.


The papal is a plant known as “the Aztec butterfly”. It is rich in antioxidants and minerals such as calcium, potassium and phosphorus, and also contains vitamins A, B and C. It is good for digestion, aids circulation, strengthens the immune system and helps treat liver disease, it is also rich in antioxidants. and minerals such as calcium, potassium and phosphorus.


Papal properties are said to inhibit respiratory diseases, help reduce inflammation and pain caused by rheumatism. Other medicinal uses are mentioned below:

Relieves toothache.

· Improves vision problems.

Check your cholesterol levels.

Helps fight anemia.

Works as an anticancer.


This plant is consumed throughout the country. It is recommended to consume it raw. It is commonly used to flavor dishes, be they soups, sauces, salads or even as a complement to Mexican appetizers. Almost every tacos you go to will have papalus sprigs to go with your dish. It is also one of the main ingredients in poblano sweets.


At least here in Mexico, it is one of the plants best known for its preparation during the holidays. Rosemary contains vitamins A and C, calcium, fiber and iron. It is credited with strengthening bones, aiding digestion, keeping skin healthy, strengthening the immune system, and as if all of that weren’t enough, it is an antioxidant.


Like all quelites, romeritos are rich in fiber, minerals (such as iron and potassium) and vitamins (such as A and C).

· The vitamin C of the leaves favors a better absorption of the iron contained in them.

In addition, it contains bioactive substances called phytochemicals such as chlorophyll which protect our cells from oxidation and damage to our DNA.

Due to its nutritional richness, it is recommended to consume green leaves frequently and romeritos are an excellent option.


Unlike other quelites, romeritos are not eaten raw. The most common way to eat them is in the ‘revoltijo’, a characteristic dish of the Christmas and Lenten period, which combines them with mole, nopal and prawns.


This grass is about three feet tall. Its leaves are very wide, its flowers are white and are in small spikes, and its seeds are black and abundant. When consumed, they provide a large amount of fiber, vitamins A, C and minerals that strengthen the circulatory and immune systems.


They contain more than 75% water and the rest of the material corresponds to carbohydrates, fibers and small amounts of lipids which give a relatively low energy density.

There are quelites that contain 6 g of protein per 100 g of sample, which is more than the content of many vegetables.

They are an important source of riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, vitamins A and C, as well as being a source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.


It is customary to eat the leaves of this plant in salads, steamed or as a condiment in some stews.


They are an icon among edible plants and flowers, not only in Mexican cuisine, but in our culture. Nopal is the plant that is represented in the Mexican national coat of arms, but which also plays an important role in our gastronomy.


Helps eliminate high cholesterol

Check for excess stomach acid

Protects the gastrointestinal mucosa and prevents ulcers.

Contains vitamins, minerals, fiber and amino acids that help eliminate toxins caused by alcohol and cigarette smoke.

It is auxiliary for the control of diabetes and hyperglycemia


It is the perfect dressing if they are prepared as a salad with coriander, onion and chilli; they are also used to complete a good taquiza if they are grilled on charcoal; they can be the basis of a good stew; they can be added to a vegetable soup and also taken in the juice together with orange and celery. It is an extremely nutritious plant, is an important source of fiber and helps control cholesterol and blood sugar levels.


There is no self-respecting quesadilla stall that does not include the typical “flowered” quesadilla in its repertoire, obviously referring to the courgette flower. The courgette flower is a yellow flower, of considerable size, which is sold in clusters in any market.


Zucchini flowers are a very important source of vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3 and B9.

They are particularly rich in calcium.

They also provide various minerals: iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.

It is a food that hardly contains saturated fat, sodium and fiber.

It is also very low in cholesterol.

Almost 90% of its content is water.


It can be integrated into many dishes without major complications and can be part of salads, soups, sauces and dressings.

With seasoning and aroma

There is a large variety of herbs that we can grow at home: basil, coriander, dill, chives, mint, parsley, sage, tarragon, thyme, rosemary and ginger are the most recommended. We can bring them to the table in various ways: fresh or dried they will enhance the flavor of the dishes and can transform any dish.








Their use is widespread in the kitchen as they give the dishes aroma and personality, enhance, improve or modify the flavor and are used to decorate. Flavor is the key to enjoying all the foods we prepare, with aromatic herbs being our allies to perform such an important function.

Some leaves have very intense aromas and flavors which, when combined with other ingredients, awaken our olfactory receptors in the upper part of the nose and taste buds. It should be noted that the smells and aromas of any ingredient make up about 60-70% of the flavor of a food.

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