The Healing Secrets of Ethnic Cuisine.

15 Jan

Dr. Michael F. Roizen

Co-Author of 4 #1 NY Times Bestsellers including: YOU Staying Young.

The Owner’s Manual For Extending Your Warranty (Free Press)

Our basic premise is that your body is amazing.  You get a do over. It doesn’t take that long, and it isn’t that hard if you know what to do.  In these notes, we give you a short course in what to do so it becomes easy for you, and for you to teach others. We want you to know how much control you have over your quality and length of life.

This month, I wanted to reemphasize something that tastes really good—ethnic foods. What do spicy Indian curry, zesty Italian pesto, refreshing Spanish gazpacho, and Mexican chocolate-rich mole sauce have in common? They’ll all get your taste buds dancing, and bring you more gold than Michael Phelps. Tasty ethnic cuisine all-stars like these deliver a heap of phytonutrients that make you younger by avoiding cancer, heart disease, high blood sugar, dementia, and more. Benefits like these are just another great reasons to visit your city’s summertime street fairs and make liberal and creative use of the herbs and spices hiding in your kitchen cabinet.

Don’t just eat ethnic sometimes — sprinkle more of this good stuff on the foods you munch every day.  How? Think outside the box, like Dr. Mike does (me). I dust steamed broccoli with cinnamon and spreads yellow mustard (a great source of the super-healthy spice turmeric) on everything from celery to grilled salmon, and whole-grain pasta!

Giving your spice rack a work-out is just as brilliant as eating fruit and veggies. Take oregano.  Prized in Italian and Greek cuisine, these tasty little leaves boast 30 times more polyphenols than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges, and 4 times more than blueberries. You’d never munch a bunch of oregano that’s as big as a potato, but even a pinch packs a wallop. A tablespoon of fresh oregano’s got as much antioxidant power as a medium-sized apple!

Here’s the lowdown on other herbs and spices that punch up the flavor of popular ethnic cuisine, along with ways you can use them to get healthier as you spice up whatever you’re cooking tonight.

Turmeric:  The compound curcumin, found in yellow mustard (not so much in brown mustard, as that has real mustard seed.. but there’s true value in its less expensive yellow imitation).  Turmeric and curry powder have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, and may offer protection from cancer, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. It is a premiere flavor in Indian cuisine and you can use it on veggies, sautéed chicken, or salad dressing.

Cinnamon: A compound in this tasty spice called hydroxychalcone makes receptors on cells work better, so your body absorbs blood sugar more easily. Getting ½ to 1 teaspoon a day, sprinkled on food, could lower blood sugar 10 points.It’s a favorite in German baked goods and Greek main dishes like hearty moussaka. Cinnamon is also delicious on oatmeal, in hot cocoa, and sprinkled on fresh fruit, like apples and bananas.

Ginger: This popular flavor in Thai cuisine may also cut your odds for inflammatory diseases like arthritis, as well as cancer and migraine headaches. You can also eat some if you’re prone to motion sickness or are nauseous, too. Try grated fresh ginger in salad dressings and shake powdered ginger into whole-grain muffins.

Garlic: Munching a clove a day could help lower your cholesterol by as much as 9%. Garlic contains tons of tangy compounds that may help protect against cancers of the breast, stomach, colon, esophagus, and pancreas — and soothe high blood pressure a bit, too. Garlic’s a favorite from Scandinavia to Spain and China. Use it to spice up veggies, fish, and your next pan of brown rice. It seems to make everything taste better (you could even try it on fruit and all veggies).

Rosemary: A top seasoning in Mediterranean cooking (the French roast it with almonds, the Italians add it to herb mixes), rosemary’s antioxidant capabilities make it a must for 21st-century grill masters. Adding this herb to meat, fish, and veggie marinades before grilling reduces cancer-causing compounds, called heterocyclic amines, by up to 80%.

So, use spices to keep your body and brain younger and watch the Dr Oz show for more spicy tips.

Thanks for reading.

Young Dr Mike

NOTE: You should NOT take this as medical advice. 

This article is of the opinion of its author.

Before you do anything, please consult with your doctor.

You can follow Dr Roizen  (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories  of the week) on twitter @YoungDrMike. 

Feel free to continue to send questions to youdocs@gmail.com. You can follow Dr Roizen on twitter @YoungDrMike (and get updates on the latest and most important medical stories of the week).  The YOU docs have a new web site: YOUBeauty.com  and its companion BeautySage.com the only site we know of where you can find skin products proven to meet the claims (opened for business on June 1st, 2012), and a new book: YOU: The Owner’s Manual for Teens.

Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. His radio show streams live on http://www.healthradio.net  Saturdays from 5-7 p.m . E-mail him questions at YouDocs@gmail.com.   He is the co-author of 4 #1 NY Times Best Sellers including : YOU Staying Young and YOU: The Owner’s Manual. He is Chief Medical Consultant to the two year running Emmy award winning Dr Oz show– The Dr Oz show is #2 nationally in daytime TV.  See what all the fun is about, and what he, The Enforcer, is up to. Check local listings or log onto DoctorOz.com for channel and time. And for more health info, log onto youbeauty.com anytime.

 

 

 

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