February is American Heart Month
With all the latest fads in diets and clean eating, one truth continues to emerge – eating whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and beans and seeds is good for your heart!
The Mediterranean diet uses plant-based protein as its main source of iron, uses healthy fats and is low on saturated fats – olives and olive oil, sesame seed butter, avocados, and omega-rich fish
In 2013, The New England Journal of Medicine cited a 5-year study where people with high cardiovascular risk were placed on a Mediterranean diet. They found that the risk of combined heart attack, stroke and death was reduced by 30% (and the risk of stroke was reduced by 39%!) The results also showed that people with high blood pressure and obesity also improved their heart-health when eating a Mediterranean diet.
In addition to reduced heart disease and benefits to overall general health, researchers from Harvard University report that a Mediterranean diet have reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. And, if the research didn’t move you, then the food and spices will!
Part of the Mediterranean diet, Middle Eastern cuisine is known for using whole grains like bulgar; vegetable dips; hot pepper spreads; and ground almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. Pickled vegetables and fruits are popular and known for their healing properties including pickled lemon, pickled beets and radishes, and pickled turnips.
Use Spices to Enhance the flavors of a Plant Based Diet
Spices are worth their weight in gold, they give our foods their delicious tastes and their curative properties have been passed down from generation to generation.
The most popular spices include sumac, a ground red spice with a lightly lemon-taste that is sprinkled on top of dips and vegetables. Sumac is a powerful antioxidant and is known to lower sugar and cholesterol levels.
Turmeric has become popular lately and is known for it's anti-inflammatory properties. It is also good for stomach ailments and is now included in many tea blend recipes.
Cumin is also a popular Middle Eastern spice known for stomach ailments and for lowering cholesterol and sugar levels in the blood.
There are many more spices that offer healing properties, and floral-infused waters and syrups like rose, orange, anise, and lavender that have health benefits when eaten (or even when applied topically to the body.)