Lemongrass is a variety of tropical island plant in the grass family. It is closely related to citronella, a well-known component of insect-repelling candles and oils.
Native to Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and Burma, lemongrass has become so popular worldwide that it is now cultivated in a wide variety of locales including the United States.
Lemongrass Flavor Profile
It is a popular misconception that lemongrass must taste very similar to lemon. However, lemongrass has a flavor profile all its own. While it is citrusy with a lemony flavor, it tastes almost like a mix of lemon and lemon mint.
The flavor is quite light and does not overpower other flavors in a dish. It also adds a slightly sharp and tangy taste without the bitterness of lemon.
Lemongrass is also very fragrant, with an aroma that adds its own hint of flavor to dishes in which it is used.
Health Benefits of Lemongrass
Lemongrass contains a wealth of essential vitamins, including:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B₁ (thiamine)
- Vitamin B₂ (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B₃ (niacin)
- Vitamin B₅ (pantothenic acid)
- Vitamin B₆ (pyridoxine)
- Vitamin C
Essential minerals required for healthy functioning of the human body are also contained within lemongrass, including:
Health benefits and medicinal uses of lemongrass are vast and far-reaching. Properties and uses of lemongrass include:
- Antioxidant, anti-fungal and antimicrobial qualities
- Contains antioxidants that boost the immune system
- Supports healthy cholesterol levels, preventing atherosclerosis & other cardiac disorders
- Diuretic effect helps to cleanse body and flush out toxins
- Supports digestive health
- May be effective in treating some types of cancers
- Prevention of gastrointestinal disorders
- Stimulates bowel function & improves digestion
- Treats constipation, stomach aches, nausea, diarrhea and ulcerative colitis
- Has sedative and hypnotic properties
- Aids in calming muscles and nerves
- Acts as a natural and effective sleep aid
- Relieves a variety of respiratory disorders
- Effective in lowering fevers
- Treats sores, Athlete’s foot, ringworm and urinary tract infections
- Benefits the nervous system in a variety of ways
- Eases headache and migraine pain
- Improves circulation
- Supports maintenance of optimum insulin levels, preventing and treating diabetes
- Treats swelling due to lymphatic congestion
- Increases cellular health, including supporting function of the thymus
Lemongrass has a variety of other uses including safe and natural shampoo for pets, as it repels lice and ticks. It’s a wonderful natural insect repellant for humans as well!
The fresh and tangy citrus aroma of lemongrass makes it a wonderful natural fragrance that is commonly added to cosmetic products and soaps, as well is being used in the manufacturing of candles and waxes, deodorants, polishes and even perfumes.
Common Uses of Lemongrass
Lemongrass is a primary culinary herb in several types of Asian cuisine. Thai food in particular makes use of lemongrass in traditional dishes and it has an elegantly subtle citrus flavor that complements these ethnic foods. Commonly used in soups, teas and curries, lemongrass is most commonly used in dried and powdered form, but may also be used fresh.
African countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Togo frequently use lemongrass in teas. This is also a popular use for this herb in Latin American countries such as Mexico.
This herb pairs wonderfully with beef, seafood, fish and poultry as well as vegetables. In fact, it adds a lovely citrus flavor that is light and aromatic when used in almost any dish.