What Are Hearts of Palm? A Complete Guide

If you've seen hearts of palm trending on TikTok and wondered what they are, this complete guide to buying, storing, and eating hearts of palm is for you.

what is hearts of palm
Photo: Getty Images / Juanmonino

Hearts of palm and their derivative, hearts of palm noodles, are trending these days in the health and wellness world. They're also having a moment on TikTok and beyond. They are as healthy and nutritious as they are delicious and versatile in cooking. In this article, we’ll explain what are hearts of palm and what are hearts of palm noodles. 

What Are Hearts of Palm?

Hearts of palm are the core, also known as the heart, of a palm plant. They are known by names such as palm cabbage, palmitom, or chonta. Hearts of palm are grown in warmer zones such as Florida and parts of Central and South America. The heart of the palm is inside the palm stem and one stem is harvested from each palm plant over the course of 6 to 9 months. For sustainability, farmers have bred palm plants to grow with multiple stems. To eat the hearts of palm, the stem is removed and can cooked in a number of ways including: boiling, roasting, sautéing, grilling and more.

What do Hearts of Palm Taste Like?

Hearts of palm have a mild, nutty flavor that some compare to asparagus or artichoke hearts. The innermost part of the hearts of palm can also be compared to the taste of jicama. They have a solid, crunchy texture and are easy to bite. Usually they are exported in cans or jars with brine and can appear as a solid tube. They can be cut crosswise into little rings or may come pre-cut in rings. If purchased fresh, rather than in canned or jarred form, they are perishable and expensive.

Hearts of Palm Nutrition

Funnily enough, palm hearts are good for heart health. They are a rich source of protein and are low in fats and sugars yet high in fiber. They are also a high source of vitamin B6. Just watch out for the brine which can be high in sodium.

Hearts of Palm Cakes
Blaine Moats

How to Cook Hearts of Palm

On their own, hearts of palm are a firm vegetable that can be enjoyed on their own as a snack or as part of many recipes including dips, soups, salads, and stews. Hearts of palm can be cooked in a variety of ways. Shredded hearts of palm also make a great vegetarian filling for tacos or you can use them to make veggie patties. Try our recipe Heart of Palm Cakes for a delicious vegan alternative to crab cakes. 

Another popular way to enjoy hearts of palm is in the form of noodles. Hearts of palm form a gluten free pasta that is an excellent low-carb option. According to the grocery chain Trader Joe’s, their house brand of palm noodles is their best-selling pasta alternative.

To heat palm noodles, you can boil them for 5 to 10 minutes following the instructions on the package so they’re the right softness for you. Because hearts of palm are firm, palm noodles tend to be on the al-dente side even after boiling.

How to Store Hearts of Palm

Canned or jarred hearts of palm are available in grocery or online stores year-round. You'll find them whole or pre-cut into rings. Store unopened hearts of palm according to package directions. Once opened, refrigerate the hearts of palm and use them within one week.

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