Sorrel is a fascinating perennial herb that is used all around the world and is cultivated for a wide variety of uses. Although it is primarily grown for use in food, due to its sharp, tangy taste, it also has a vast array of health benefits associated with it.There are a number of varieties of sorrel that grow in different regions of the world, and while many of them have slightly different characteristics and associated health benefits, they are generally the same.
Common sorrel, which is the most commonly cultivated and used variety, has the scientific name Rumex acetosa but is also referred to as sorrel, spinach dock, and narrow-leaved dock. The plant itself has broad green leaves that comprise a majority of the surface area, but the roots stretch deep into the ground. The red and purple flowers that annually bloom are one of the best ways to locate sorrel.
Cultures around the world have been growing and using it for centuries, in everything from soups and salads to vegetable side dishes and teas.  The high content of oxalic acid in sorrel makes it poisonous to a small degree, so intake should be regulated. In smaller quantities, eating sorrel is completely harmless. The oxalic acid is also responsible for the tart and tangy taste that is almost reminiscent of wild strawberries or kiwi. The leaves are a major part of the plant and are eaten or used in culinary preparations. It is also a key element in a number of different tea preparations due to its strong antioxidant compounds, including the famous Essiac tea.
Aids in Digestion
The high content of dietary fiber that can be found in most varieties of sorrel means that your digestive health can be improved by adding these leaves to your soups and salads.  Dietary fiber adds bulk to food as it moves through the digestive system, improving your gastrointestinal health and reducing conditions like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and cramping, as well as other gastrointestinal issues. Dietary fiber can also help reduce total cholesterol in the body, thereby protecting heart health, and reducing chances of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Sorrel has a very significant level of potassium (1 cup contains 15% of your daily recommended intake), which is an essential mineral for human health.  Potassium is a vasodilator, hence is instrumental in maintaining fluid balance throughout the body. This means that it reduces stress on the cardiovascular system by relaxing the blood vessels and arteries. Lowered blood pressure reduces the chances of dangerous blood clotting and excessive strain on the heart that can lead to coronary heart disease and other complications.
Although the studies looking into the antioxidant components of sorrel are still ongoing, there is enough evidence that it contains polyphenolic compounds, flavonoids, and anthocyanins, all of which function as antioxidants in the human body. The antioxidants in sorrel are effective at seeking out free radicals in the body and neutralizing them before they can cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells. Antioxidants have a wide range of effects on the body, but cancer prevention is their most high-profile benefit.
Vitamin A, another essential vitamin found in sorrel, has been closely connected to the improvement in eyesight and a reduction of macular degeneration and cataracts.  Beta-carotene, which is a derivative of vitamin A, acts as an antioxidant, and when combined with the other important antioxidant compounds in the body, it can greatly boost eye health and prevent age-related degradation.
Circulation and Energy
The significant levels of iron in sorrel boost the red blood cell production and prevent anemia (iron deficiency).  Increased circulation boosts oxygen levels throughout the body in the vital organs, boosts hair growth, increases energy levels, and speeds up the healing process (in conjunction with the protein content of sorrel).
The vitamin C content in sorrel is impressive (a single cup of sorrel contains 106% of your daily recommended intake), which means that your immune system can be optimized.  Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, stimulates the immune system and increases the white blood cell count in the body. White blood cells are the first line of defense against pathogens and other foreign invaders in the body. Vitamin C also helps to reduce swelling, prevent scurvy, and even has analgesic (pain-relief) properties when consumed in high quantities.