Ever wondered why our common Nasi Lemak is sometimes served with blue rice? We know how food sometimes tastes much better when it looks just as appealing but this is more than just a ploy to draw the crowd in since this blue rice actually has health benefits to its name. How this colour came to be in Nasi Lemak is from the use of the butterfly pea, a plant that has its roots in South East Asia and beyond. If you were to spot it in the wild, you may just miss it since it looks nothing like a butterfly. Ever since the blue flower has been discovered as a safe ingredient that could easily impart its colours onto others, it has been regularly used as a plant-based food dye. Read on to discover why this blue flower is more than just a pretty thing.
What Are Its Health Benefits?
Make no mistake, the butterfly pea flower is a herb and it is regularly used in different cuisines. But in addition to it being eye-catching as a food pigmentation dye, there are plenty of medicinal benefits to this bright blue flower.
It Beautifies Your Skin
Like most other herbs, the butterfly pea flower is high on antioxidants that help to kick those free radicals in the butt. Free radicals are what inflict damage onto our skin and the reason for our headaches since they can cause issues to our skin like premature ageing and wrinkles. When we take in foods that are enriched with the butterfly pea flower, our skin is safe from glycation (this is when a large number of sugar molecules are in our system and it causes protein damage). Let’s also not forget about the flavonoids that are found in this herb since they have been known to help stimulate collagen production as well.
It Helps With Inflammation
In the past, the butterfly pea flower was brewed as a tea and served as an antidote to help ease pain from inflammation, fight certain forms of cancer and treat eye problems like conjunctivitis. Recent studies have been done and it has confirmed what was believed — when taken as a tea, the herb fights against internal inflammation and helps to reduce the severity of symptoms like breakouts and rashes.
It Is Stress-Relieving
This is music to the ears of most office workers. Starting to feel the weight of the world following a strenuous workday? The butterfly pea flower is actually great in dealing with stress and anxiety. By incorporating butterfly pea extract or tea into your diet, you will benefit from its mood-enhancing and stress-defeating benefits.
It Helps You Lose Weight
What’s even better is that a pot of this blue tea can help you to lose water weight while you sit on your office chair. Since a pot of butterfly pea tea is considered a natural diuretic drink, you can drink away and reap the wondrous benefits of this amazing herb!
It Regulates Your Blood Sugar Levels
For those who are mindful of their blood sugar levels, butterfly pea flower tea is particularly great in ensuring your blood sugar levels do not spike over the limit and into the unhealthy level. Since a concern of most who are dealing with diabetes is their blood sugar levels, you can use this herb to your benefit as a non-caffeinated beverage that can be taken without any additional sugar.
What Can It Be Used For?
Aside from Nasi Lemak and in Peranakan desserts like ‘kuehs’, more and more people are using butterfly pea flower in teas since it has been known that any alterations to the pH value will result in a drastic change in colour. Tea lovers are not the only one catching on since bartenders have discovered that this smart ingredient would be lovely when a little showmanship is required. For example, if you add lemon juice to a cocktail brewed with butterfly pea flower, the dark hues of blue will slowly evolve into a darker shade of purple. Similarly, expect change when the petals of the roselle hibiscus flower are mixed into your drink. What will the colour change to? If you guessed red, you are absolutely right!
You don’t have to scratch your head if you are finding new ways to include butterfly pea flower into your diet. If you are looking for a spot of blue in your life, butterfly pea flower tea can be easily brewed with just two ingredients: dried blue pea flowers and lemongrass. Since it is a caffeine-free herbal beverage, you could have it at any time of the day without worrying about it disrupting your sleep patterns.