Reference Number: 402
Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a plant widely used by herbalists. Its medicinal values have been long recognised, and nettles were used by both the ancient Egyptians and the Romans.
The plant is a source of many bioactive compounds, including carotenoids, fatty acids, polyphenols and vitamins. Some of these compounds have antioxidant properties. In addition, there is some evidence that nettles can aid in reducing inflammation associated with arthritis and lowering blood pressure. Studies have also found nettle to be effective in controlling blood sugar levels and as such a potential safe treatment for patients with diabetes.
This paper provides a comprehensive summary of the potential dietary applications of nettles along with their many health benefits. Interestingly it also touches on the antimicrobial properties of nettles. Extracts of nettles have shown activity against a range of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, which could potentially have implications for the gut microbiome.
Nettles (genus Urtica, family Urticaceae) are of considerable interest as preservatives in foods for both human and animal consumption. They have also been used for centuries in traditional medicine. This paper reviews the properties of nettles that make them suitable for wider applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Nettles contain a significant number of biologically-active compounds. For example, the leaves are rich sources of terpenoids, carotenoids and fatty acids, as well as of various essential amino acids, chlorophyll, vitamins, tannins, carbohydrates, sterols, polysaccharides, isolectins and minerals. Extracts from the aerial parts of nettles are rich sources of polyphenols, while the roots contain oleanol acid, sterols and steryl glycosides. Due to the variety of phytochemicals and their proportions they contain, nettles show noticeable activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. These properties make nettles suitable for a range of possible applications, including functional food, dietary supplements and pharmacological formulations. Despite these benefits, the nettle is still an underestimated plant source. This paper provides a unique overview of the latest research on nettle plants focusing on the possibilities for transforming a common weed into a commercial plant with a wide range of applications. Special attention is paid to the antimicrobial activity of the active compounds in nettles and to possible uses of these valuable plants in food and feed formulations.
What does this mean for bakers?
Bakers can take advantage of the natural benefits of nettles by drying them and using them in their bread. We have included nettles in some of our botanical blends.