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Tarragon herb nutrition facts

French tarragon herb, also known as dragon wort, is a very popular culinary herb used as flavoring agent, especially in the Mediterranean cuisines. This aromatic perennial growing herb is rich in phytonutrients as well antioxidants that help promote health and prevent diseases.

Botanically, tarragon belongs within the family of Asteraceae, in the genus: Artemisia, and known scientifically as Artemisia dracunculus sativa. The herb is thought to have originated in the Central Asia region, probably in Siberia.



tarragon herb tarragon
Tarragon herb. Note for
lanceolate dark green leaves and thin woody stem.
Tarragon. (Artemisia dracunculus)


This herb is small shrub featuring slim woody branching stems that reach up to a meter in height. It grows well in rich sandy soil with adequate sunlight. Its leaves feature smooth, dark green surface with pointed ends.

Russian tarragon (A. dracunculoides) is a more robust, closely related species of French tarragon. It, however, is quite inferior in flavor to its Mediterranean counterpart and hence, less preferred in cooking.


Health benefits of Tarragon herb

  • This exquisite herb is rich in numerous health benefiting phyto-nutrients that are indispensable for optimum health.

  • The main essential oils in tarragon are estragole (methyl chavicol), cineol, ocimene and phellandrene.

  • Traditionally, tarragon has been employed as a traditional remedy to stimulate appetite and alleviate anorexic symptoms.

  • Scientific studies suggest that poly-phenolic compounds in this herb help lower blood-sugar levels.

  • Fresh tarragon herb is one of the highest antioxidant value food sources among the common herbs. Its total measured ORAC (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value is 15,542 trolex equivalents (TE) per 100 g.

  • Laboratory studies on tarragon extract shows certain compounds in them inhibit platelet activation, preventing platelet aggregation and adhesion to the blood vessel wall. It, thus, helps prevent clot formation inside tiny blood vessels of heart and brain protecting from heart attack, and stroke.

  • The herb is very rich source of vitamins such as vitamin-C, vitamin-A as well as B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, niacin, riboflavin, etc., that function as antioxidant as well as co-factors for enzymes in the metabolism.

  • Tarragon is a notably excellent source of minerals like calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, and zinc. Manganese is utilized by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for cellular respiration (co-factors for cytochrome-oxidase enzyme) and blood cell production.


Medicinal uses of tarragon

  • Tarragon herb has been used in various traditional medicines for stimulating the appetite and as a remedy for anorexia, dyspepsia, flatulence, and hiccups.

  • The essential oil, eugenol in the herb has been in therapeutic use in dentistry as a local-anesthetic and antiseptic for toothache complaints.

  • Tarragon tea may help cure insomnia. (Medical disclaimer).




See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Tarragon herb (Artemisia dracunculus), dried,
Nutritional value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 295 Kcal 15%
Carbohydrates 50.22 g 38%
Protein 22.77 g 40%
Total Fat 7.24 g 24%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 7.4 g 19%
Vitamins
Folates 274 µg 68.5%
Niacin 8.950 mg 56%
Pyridoxine 2.410 mg 185%
Riboflavin 1.339 mg 103%
Thiamin 0.251 mg 21%
Vitamin A 4200 IU 140%
Vitamin C 50.0 mg 83%
Electrolytes
Sodium 62 mg 4%
Potassium 3020 mg 64%
Minerals
Calcium 1139 mg 114%
Copper 0.677 mg 75%
Iron 32.30 mg 403%
Magnesium 347 mg 87%
Manganese 7.967 mg 346%
Zinc 3.90 mg 35%

Selection and storage

French tarragon leaves can be available fresh during late spring and summer season. Growing tips may be gathered for fresh use. Oftentimes, the herb is grown in the backyard, so that its fresh leaves can easily be gathered for immediate use in cooking. 

Tarragon leaves may be harvested at flowering time for drying slowly either under sunlight or gentle heat. Dried tarragon can be available in the herb stores year around.

Try to by buy fresh leaves whenever possible for better flavor and nutritional benefits. Look for the herb that is rich in fragrance. Avoid those with shriveled, discolored old stocks.

Once at home, wash the leaves in clean running water, pat dry with absorbent paper and store inside the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for immediate use. Dried tarragon, however, should be stored inside an airtight container and stored in cool dark place where it will stay for up to six months.


Preparation and serving methods

Fresh tarragon herb should be washed before use in cooking. In general the herb is added in small amounts to recipes at the last moment in order to retain flavor and taste.


Culinary uses

Generally, the herb is added at the final moment to the recipes in small amounts in order to retain flavor and taste.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Fresh tarragon is used in green salad.

  • Fresh as well as dry leaves may be used as flavoring base (in marinate) to fish, lamb and poultry.

  • Tarragon herb is one of the main ingredients in French béarnaise sauce, a hot emulsified butter sauce made of clarified butter, egg yolks, shallot, chervil, peppercorn, and tarragon vinegar.

  • Furthermore, it is used as flavoring base in traditional Christmas breads called, potica.


Safety profile

  • Tarragon essential oil, estragole, may cause skin irritation in some individuals.
  • In addition, according to the "European commission scientific committee on food" estragole and its metabolite 1'-hydroxyestragole may induce hepatic tumor in laboratory animal. Therefore, reductions in tarragon exposure and restrictions in use levels are thus recommended. (Medical disclaimer).


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Further resources:

1. The herb Society of America.

2. USDA National Nutrient database.