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Health Benefits

Learn about Zaatar, Rue (Ruta) and Green Tea Health Benefits

Zaatar

While zaatar is another name for thyme in some cultures, the spice blend with a slightly different name is used in a number of other ways. It is a popular addition to salads, as well as seasonings for meat and vegetables. The flavor, depending on the particular combination, is often described as toasty, tangy, or nutty. You particularly see it with olive oil and bread, and in dips for vegetables. By combining flavonoids, minerals, and other key nutrients, this spicy seed mixture can do wonders for your overall health. Let’s take a closer look at some of the many health benefits of za’atar.

Treating Chronic Diseases: Sumac is one of the best herbs for your health, and with its healthy supply of quercetin, it is able to neutralize free radicals and prevent cancer proliferation. Numerous studies have shown this benefit of sumac’s organic components, and as a key ingredient in za’atar, this spice mix can significantly boost your protection and cancer and other chronic diseases caused by free radicals.

Clear Respiratory Tracts: There are certain expectorant properties of thyme, particularly when it is brewed in a tea. Thyme can help to clear out the respiratory tracts, causing you to expectorate (cough) out phlegm and mucus, so this potent spice mix can be added to food when you’re feeling a cold coming on. The immune-boosting abilities of the herbs involved also help to ward off illnesses.

Boost Cognition: There are strong traditional beliefs about the cognitive impact of za’atar, including its possibility of improving memory. People used to sleep with za’atar beneath their pillow, but in reality, it could be due to the circulation-boosting powers of za’atar, as well as the rich mineral content that can boost brain power and stimulate neural activity.

Soothe Inflammation: You can make za’atar into a paste or a salve, much as you would to spread on bread, but instead put it on inflamed areas of the skin, such as bug bites and aching joints. When the spice is consumed, it can have a similar anti-inflammatory effect on other parts of the body, particularly if you suffer from arthritis, gout, or other inflammatory conditions in the stomach or respiratory system.

Increase Energy: The high concentration of polyphenols and flavonoids found in this spice mix make it a powerful energy booster that can get your metabolism moving. Furthermore, it can help you get more restful sleep, due to the magnesium found in the mix, helping you feel more energized and ready to face your day each morning.

Improve Mood: Studies and traditional evidence have linked za’atar with improved mood and decreased rates of depression. This use has been popular for generations in the Middle East. The phenol that comes from thyme and oregano may have direct mood-boosting effects by impacting the hormones being released and regulated throughout the body. Carvacrol has been directly linked to increased energy and cognitive function as well.

Strengthen Bones: One thing that these herbs all have in common is minerals, and between the high concentration of iron, calcium, copper, and magnesium, za’atar can have a major impact on bone mineral density. Adding this spice mix to your regular diet can help you ward off osteoporosis and other degenerative bone conditions as you age.

Circulatory Effects: As mentioned earlier, za’atar can help improve circulation of oxygenated blood throughout the body thanks to its impressive iron content. Iron is a key component of hemoglobin, which transports red blood cells throughout the body, ensuring that all organ systems get the oxygen they need.

Immune System Aid: Certain organic compounds found within za’atar spice mix have anti-fungal, amti-microbial, and antiseptic properties, making this an all-around powerhouse for your immune system. This includes internal and external applications, keeping your gut, skin, respiratory, and nervous systems functioning at a high, healthy level.

Heal the Skin: The anti-inflammatory properties of this spice mix can be very useful for improving the appearance of the skin, speeding wound healing, and even reducing the appearance of age spots and blemishes, thanks to the rich mixture of antioxidants found in za’atar. If you have any concerns about the health of your skin, be sure to get this Middle Eastern specialty into your diet!

A Final Word of Warning: If you suffer from allergies to any component of za’atar, it can make for an unpleasant meal or medical treatment. Always be confident in what ingredients are making up your za’atar spice mix, or better yet, prepare it yourself and find the perfect health and flavor combination for you!

Rue (Ruta)

A Brief History

Rue was well-respected by Hippocrates for its medicinal qualities. Aristotle touted it as essential for calming nervousness. Pliny recorded that it was used by artists to encourage eye health. When tied in bunches, this plant, also known as "herb of grace," was used in churches and cathedrals to sprinkle holy water. Rue was one of the active ingredients of Four Thieves' Vinegar, which was said to protect the opportunists who stole from those suffering from the effects of the Black Death. It was sprinkled on the floors of courthouses and carried by judges to ward of the illness and fleas that so often afflicted the incarcerated poor. The colloquial saying, "rue the day" is said to come from the discomfort caused by handling the leaves of Ruta graveolens. Its leaves are said to be the basis for the suit of clubs used on playing cards for centuries. This varied history only scratches the surface of this interesting and useful herb.

Ruta graveolens is thought to have come to southern Europe via northern Africa and the Mediterranean region. This hardy evergreen shrub then established itself throughout the continent and, with the help of British and Spanish colonialism, became a favorite in cottage gardens in the West Indies, India, Mexico and the United States. It is now a naturalized member of the flora of both North and South America and thrives easily in USDA growing zones 6 through 11. Standing up to two feet tall, Rue's little yellow flowers and green-gray stems and leaves can be found in culinary and medicinal herb gardens, butterfly habitats and growing of its own accord along roadways.

Native Invasive Plant

Ruta graveolens is thought to have come to southern Europe via northern Africa and the Mediterranean region. This hardy evergreen shrub then established itself throughout the continent and, with the help of British and Spanish colonialism, became a favorite in cottage gardens in the West Indies, India, Mexico and the United States. It is now a naturalized member of the flora of both North and South America and thrives easily in USDA growing zones 6 through 11. Standing up to two feet tall, Rue's little yellow flowers and green-gray stems and leaves can be found in culinary and medicinal herb gardens, butterfly habitats and growing of its own accord along roadways.

Rue Health Benefits

Historically, Rue has been used to relieve the pain associated with the physical symptoms of complaints such as gout, rheumatism, and sciatica. Along with alleviating the uncomfortable effects of gas and colic, rue was thought to expel worms from the body. Throughout the years of its use, rue has been used to promote menstruation. It is also used as a digestive tonic and to stimulate the appetite. The herb is edible and often used in salads. It is a good source of flavonoids.

Preparations

Ruta graveolens can be used fresh or dried. A beneficial tea or infusion can be sipped to calm the nerves, increase the appetite or to ease croupy symptoms. An oil made with Rue can be applied to areas suffering from sciatica or to ease chest congestion. Homeopathic preparations are available to treat arthritis and joint pain.

Green Tea

Green tea and heart health

Tea has shown promising benefits in association to heart health. Flavonoids in green tea can help prevent oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduce blood clotting. Studies show green tea can also help lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and total and LDL cholesterol

Green tea and cancer prevention

In addition to cardiovascular health, tea extracts and polyphenols have also shown promising effects in cancer research. Tea and tea components have been shown to inhibit carcinogen-induced DNA damage in a number of cell studies, as well as inhibit tumor development at different organ sites.[3]

Studies on the effects of green tea in cancer prevention have shown to have a possible impact on liver, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. These studies suggested the more cups of green tea consumed per day over a a number of years continues to reduce one's chance of these cancers.

Green tea and anti-aging benefits

The presence of polyphenols in green tea has also shown to be a wonder for the skin, as they can protect against damaging UV rays, which are linked to wrinkles, skin cancers, and dark spots. Green tea has also shown to be anti-inflammatory, which helps keep your skin clear and glowing. One study showed applying green tea topically can even alleviate skin conditions such as acne and rosecea.

Green tea and weight loss

Evidence supporting tea as a weight-loss aid is based mainly on studies testing the effects of teas extracts, such as catechins and caffeine, so results may not be directly applicable to brewed tea. However, research suggests green tea catechins and caffeine may stimulate thermogenesis, leading to a potential increase in energy expenditure.

Several studies have shown implications of green tea consumption on reducing abdominal fat and waist circumference in slightly overweight participants. However, while green tea has shown to aid in weight loss, it should not be seen as a cure-all, because it only makes a small impact, and is less important than eating a healthy diet or participating in daily exercise.

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