Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts of Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads or fiddlehead greens are the furled fronds of a young fern, harvested for use as a vegetable. The ferns have been part of traditional diets in much of Northern France, Asia, and Native Americans for centuries. As fiddleheads are harvested early in the season before the frond has opened and reached its full height, they are trimmed close to the ground.

Fiddlehead fern (Matteuccia struthioreris) is a fern in the genus Matteuccia Todaro and family Dryopteridaceae. It is a perennial plant which thrives in temperate climate and well drained soils. Fiddlehead fern is also called as Ostrich fern and Shuttlecock fern.
The plant of fiddlehead fern grows about five feet long which possess a U shaped grooved on the side of stem. The leaves are pinnate or bipinnate which is bright green in color and usually 4 feet long. The stalk is about 4 cm in diameter and 10-12 cm in height. The varieties of Fiddlehead ferns are classified as: Ostrich fern, Cinnamon and interrupted Fern, Lady Fern and Bracken Fern.


Canada is the nation which has the history of cultivating fiddleheads. Canadians were connected to this plant that they have fiddlehead themes for lodges and boats. Since the middle ages, fiddlehead ferns were recognized as the regular diet within Australia, Asia, America and New Zealand.

Nutritional Value

100 grams of Fiddlehead fern contains 34 calories. It possess 4.55 grams of protein, 0.32 mg of copper, 4.98 mg of niacin, 26.6 mg of ascorbic acid, 181 µg of vitamin A, 0.51 grams of manganese and 1.31 mg of iron. It is low in fat and carbohydrates.

Types of Fiddleheads Ferns

Various types of Fiddlehead fern found in the entire world are described below:

1. Cinnamon and interrupted Fern

The fiddlehead fern determines the ostrich fern. Ostrich fern is found in Newfoundland, Alaska, British Colombia, South and Northern California, Southern Appalachians and Midwest.

It grows about 3-6 feet high. Five to nine fronds are organized in the rosette form. Ostrich ferns has spores on brown fronds which are small in comparison to others.

2. Cinnamon and interrupted Fern

Cinnamon fern is usual on sandy soil. It is a considered as delicious fiddleheads but is slightly harmful.

3. Lady Fern

Lady fern is found in damp conifer and deciduous woodlands. The rosettes possess 3-7 fronds which rise about 2-3 feet high. The groove is running down on the top of stalk.

4. Bracken Fern

Bracken fern is typical and huge fern which has solitary and vertical stem. It is considered as the conventional food in North America. It possess the powerful carcinogen which is called ptaquiloside which could be destroyed by cooking.

Health Benefits of Fiddlehead

Fiddlehead ferns are used as the part of diet in Asia, Northern France and Native Americans. It is harvested before the frond is opened. It possesses Vitamin A, a natural anti-oxidant that assists to maintain the mucus membranes and skin integrity.

Assist in growth

Copper is essential for the oxygenation of red blood cells. The low level of copper results in muscle, joint pain, fatigue as well as poor brain function. The studies also show that deficiency of copper can delay in growth, low weight and height and also slows down the metabolic activities.

Fiddleheads can be extremely helpful for weight loss.

Fiddleheads are nutritionally dense. One hundred grams of fiddlehead ferns contain 34 calories. Also, the fiber content in fiddleheads inhibits the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin that tells the brain that one is ready to eat something.

Maintains cholesterol health

Niacin helps to treat or maintain the level of cholesterol. It reduces the chances of cardiovascular disease in those patients with mixed dyslipidemia, a condition in which the triglycerides, plasma cholesterol increases. Niacin is also beneficial for the people who have high chances of stroke, heart attack or other diseases.

The studies show that niacin helps to enhance the good cholesterol level and reduces triglycerides and bad cholesterol.

Treats cancer

The high amount of Vitamin C promotes the drugs which are used in chemotherapy. Vitamin C helps to target the cell which requires the nutriments without harming the normal cells. The research shows that Vitamin C is effective cancer treatment for the lung and ovarian cancer.

Enhance immunity

The research shows that Vitamin C is helpful for those having weak immune system caused due to stress. As stress is the common condition which is experienced in the society, the adequate amount of Vitamin C helps to improve the overall health.

Anti-inflammatory activity

Vitamin A eliminates free radicals which damage the cells as well as tissue. It prevents the cells being overactive that leads to inflammation and food allergies. The intake of Vitamin A helps to reduce the chances of food allergies. It also decreases the inflammation which also reduces the chances of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Treats eye ailments

Vitamin A helps to prevent macular degeneration which may result in blindness. The intake of vitamin C, A, E, copper and zinc helps to reduce the chances of macular degeneration by about 25 percent. The studies show that Vitamin A eye drops helps to treat dry eyes. It also slows down the development of Stargardt’s disease which causes vision loss in the youngsters.

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Bone disorders

Manganese with zinc, copper, calcium helps to lower the chances of bone loss in the older women who are more prone to weak bones and bone fractures. The deficiency of manganese increases the chances of bone related ailments. Manganese helps to form the bone regulatory enzymes and hormones which are involved in the process of bone metabolism.

The studies shows that the intake of manganese with vitamin D, calcium, copper, zinc and boron can promote the bone mass in women having weak bones which help to treat osteoporosis naturally.

Treats anemia

The low level of hemoglobin and red blood cells are the cause for anemia because low amount of oxygen is transport to the cells. Anemia results in low level of energy, poor immunity and slow brain function. Most of the people are suffering from anemia due to the deficiency in iron.

Cures migraines

It is proven that Vitamin B2 is effective to treat the migraine headaches. Physicians recommend 400 mg dose of riboflavin which helps to treat and cure the headaches and migraine attacks.

Riboflavin lowers the frequency of migraines, reduces its symptoms as well a pain experienced during migraine.


Phosphorus acts as phospholipids which is a component of biological membranes such as nucleic acids and nucleotides. It helps to balance the pH level in the body restricting the excessive alkali or acid compounds.

This assists the digestion process by granting the healthy bacteria to remain in the gut. Phosphorus reduces the water retention, diarrhea, bloating which promotes the digestion.

How to Eat

  • In Indonesia, the young fiddleheads are prepared in rich coconut sauce which is spiced with galangal, chili pepper, turmeric leaves, lemongrass and other spices.
  • In Philippines, fiddlehead is used to make a salad along with salted egg slices, tomato and vinaigrette dressing.
  • In Garhwal (Uttarakhand), it is consumed as a vegetable.
  • It is pickled in the form of achaar.
  • It is cooked as side vegetable dish usually dried to eat with parathas or rotis.
  • Fiddlehead can be consumed boiled, steamed in soups, stir-fried, sautéed, fried and baked.

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