What are the Benefits of Asafoetida?
Author: Michelle Scott Date Posted:5 April 2021
Asafoetida Benefits and How to Cook With It
If you have ever smelt Asafoetida or Hing in its raw form or in a jar you might wonder why anyone would want to use it al all! There is no doubt that the smell is overwhelming. However, the health benefits and culinary uses of asafoetida definitely outweigh the bad odour.
So What is Asafoetida?
It is a hard resinous gum that is extracted from the roots of the Ferula asafoetida plant. It has a strong pungent odour and has been given pseudonyms that range from “Devil’s Dung” to “Food of the Gods”. It only grows in the cold and dry conditions found in Afghanistan, Iran and Kashmir. It is highly sought after in India for its health benefits and culinary uses and considered a very valuable spice.
When it is cooked it gives food a smooth onion or leek flavour and aroma, replacing the need for onions and garlic in curries and other savoury dishes.
Asafoetida can be purchased as a hard, gummy resin or as powder which in most cases has been blended with other ingredients like rice flour, turmeric or arrowroot.
The health benefits of asafoetida have long been known by the people of India and it is used regularly in Indian cooking.Here are four very good reasons to consider including asafoetida in you diet on a regular basis.
1. Gut Health
Studies of asafoetida have shown that it can be successful in the relief of IBS symptoms including constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating and cramping. It also helps reduce flatulence making it a useful addition to recipes containing lentils and pulses.
It is FODMAP friendly and when cooked it has a smooth onion/garlic flavour making it the perfect replacement for the actual vegetables. Onions and garlic are a definitely off the menu with a low FODMAP diet so it is a valuable spice in your pantry when cooking curries and savoury dishes.
2. Blood Pressure
It assists in the lowering of blood pressure. Asafoetida like turmeric is a natural blood thinner and contains coumarin. It is also believed to contain relaxant compounds which assist with arterial blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health.
3. Blood Sugar
It has been shown to be effective in lowering and maintaining normal blood sugar levels. The presence of phenolic acids and tannins are believed to be the reason for this.
4. Asthma Relief
Asafoetida is used in traditional medicine for the treatment of asthma, whooping cough and bronchitis. Current studies are indicating that that it may be a potent respiratory stimulant and expectorant making it useful for asthma and other respiratory conditions.
It is important to remember that when you are looking at using supplements and high levels of herbs and spices, you should check with your health practitioner first to ensure that they won’t adversely affect any other medications that you are may be taking.
Asafoetida Uses in Cooking
The important thing to remember when cooking with asafoetida is that less is more. A pinch or two is all that is needed in your meals. It is best to heat it in oil first like you do when using any spice or spice blend and then add your meat or vegetables. I recommend using asafoetida powder as it is easier to handle, less pungent in your pantry and doesn’t need to be double bagged like whole asafoetida gum.
One of my favourite breakfast meals is homemade baked beans. An added pinch of asafoetida stops any bloating or embarrassing gas that might occur during the day. Not to mention they are yummy and a great quick evening meal as well.
I have also included a link to one of our most popular recipes that uses asafoetida. This should help get you on your way to including it into your healthy diet.