The Mediterranean Lifestyle
High in Vitamin C, regular consumption can help reduce the risk of heart disease, kidney stones and infections. They also boost good digestion and have alkalising and detoxifying properties. These are a staple ingredient in Greece and Italy when it comes to cooking.
KIDNEY STONES – lemons have the highest concentrate of citrate and consuming lemon juice daily has been shown to decrease the rate of stone formation.
HEART HEALTH – contain hesperidin, which can reduce the symptoms of hypertension, and pectin [ fibre] and limonoid compounds which can slow down hardening of the arteries and reduce LDL unhealthy cholesterol.
RELIEVES INDIGESTION – mixed with hot water, lemon juice can relieve heartburn, nausea, acid indigestion and stomach ache. It may also have an anti parasitic effect.
ALKALISING AND DETOXIFYING – Lemons are a natural diuretic and can help reduce swelling, inflammations and oedema [ water retention]. They are also antibacterial, they flush out the bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections.
The vitamin C in citrus fruits helps the body absorb non-haem iron. This is a plant sourced iron. It is often included in Iron tablets that you may have been prescribed by your GP.
WE often just put ingredients into our recipes and go ahead without thinking about the actual nutrients they add to the dish, the talks and workshops I run look at the nutrition behind the ingredients, for instance a lot of Mediterranean dishes contain onions and garlic, so what do we know about them?
Ancient Greeks recognised their health benefits and science has proved them to be right.
Onions have dozens of medicinal chemical compounds that have;-
- antibacterial action – caused by the sulphur compounds which give them their unique taste and which can reduce nasal congestion of a cold.
- anti- inflammatory which may help arthritis sufferers.
- promote good heart health by lowering cholesterol, the flavonoid quercetin helps avoid heart problems as it helps to prevent blood clots and cholesterol sticking to arterial walls. + Over time can also raise the level of HDL which is the good cholesterol in the blood
- promote good digestion by the fibre in the onion called inulin and a range of other fructo – oligosaccharides [ carbohydrate single sugars] . These are prebiotics and provide the right food to encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Onions are thought to play a role in preventing bowel cancer because of this.
The stronger the flavour the more health benefits, also consider using them raw as this maximises the benefits too. TOP TIP – do not cook onions too quickly at a high heat, if you do you destroy a large amount of the sulphide compounds that they contain.
Storage over time destroys the Vit C in them.
Part of the Allium family like onions but with additional and different health properties
- Immunity Helps strengthen the immunity system – the volatile oils are antibiotic and can be use to treat coughs and colds
- Detoxifying Removes toxins and pollutants from the body – the sulfhydryl in garlic works by helping to remove toxic substances such as heavy metals from the body
- Heart Health the sulphur in garlic stimulates nitric oxide production in blood vessels this relaxes & improves their elasticity, helping lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of stroke and atherosclerosis [ hardening of the arteries]
- Blood Sugar regulator – a regular intake of garlic lowers the amino acid homocysteine, which is a risk factor in diabetes and heart disease.
- Cancer recognised for helping to prevent numerous types of cancer inc lung, breast, and bowel. Helps in the treatment of bladder and prostate cancer too.
TOP TIPS – Fresh is best. After crushing or slicing it, allow to stand for 10 mins to allow the allicin [ active ingredient in the garlic] to develop before it is cooked.
DO NOT microwave garlic it kills off nearly all its benefits.