Nettles (Urtica dioica) are a common shrub native to Europe and Asia. The plants have heart-shaped leaves and stems that are covered in fine hairs which cause pain, redness and swelling if brushed against.
Nettles have a number of health benefits including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, immunostimulatory, anti-infectious, hypotensive, antiulcer activities and cardiovascular disease prevention.
When foraging for nettles, always wear gloves, a long-sleeved top and long pants to prevent being stung and choose a clean location away from busy roads and pollution.
Nutritional properties of stinging nettles
Nettles are packed with nutrients, which include:
- Vitamins: A, B, C and K
- Minerals: Iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium
- Amino acids: Threonine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, lysine, histidine, methionine
What do nettles taste like?
The flavour is similar to spinach, only milder, with a slight pepper flavour.