8 Superfood from the Arab World
BY: Yusra Shawwa/Contributing Writer
The world’s oldest cultivated fruit, date palms are referred to as the “trees of life.”
Originally cultivated from Iraq, this sweet fruit comes with many positive benefits.
- Strengthening bones and fights off painful diseases like osteoporosis
- Contains Selenium, Manganese, Copper, and Magnesium – minerals vital to healthy bone development and strength
- Rich source of Potassium – reduces risk of stroke and other heart-related diseases, promotes responsive nervous system and improves speed and alertness of brain activity
- High levels of iron are a perfect dietary supplement for people who suffer from anemia
Originated from modern-day Iran, and since then has been cultivated throughout the Middle East region. It is translated to “Romman” in Arabic. It is used in a wide range of main dishes with chicken, meat, fish or vegetables. The seeds are also used in salads. The juice can be used to make sauces.
- High levels of antioxidants called flavonoids – counteract cancer radials
- Antibacterial and antiviral properties to reduce the effects of dental plaque and other oral diseases
- Great source of vitamins – Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Folate and Vitamin B6
- Phytochemicals in pomegranates have blood-pressure reducing properties
The ellipsoidal yellow fruit has both culinary and cleaning uses worldwide. The origin of the world “lemon” is Middle Eastern, from the Arabic word “lay-mun.” The fruit was first recorded in literature in a 10th century Arabic treatise on farming. Between 1000 and 1150 it was widely distributed throughout the Arab world.
- Contains 22 anti-cancer compounds
- Alkalizing for the body – restore balance to the body’s pH level
- Rich in Vitamin C and flavonoids that work against flu and cold infections
- Citric acid in lemon helps dissolve calcium deposits, gallstones and kidney stones
- Vitamin P (bioflavonoids) in lemons strengthen blood vessels
Native to the Middle East and Western Asia, figs have been cultivated since ancient times and now widely grown throughout the world. They can be enjoyed fresh or dried, and are also used to make jams and sauces.
- High concentration in fiber promotes healthy, regular bowel function
- Contains Pectin, a soluble fiber, that helps reduce particular types of abdominal cancers as well as colon cancer
- High in potassium and low in sodium = perfect defense against hypertension
- Greater levels of potassium help regulate the amount of sugar absorbed by the body (can help Diabetics!)
Although this fruit is 92% water, it is filled with many powerful benefits. The refreshing fruit was cultivated in the Nile Valley. Evidence of watermelon seeds were actually found in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Today, watermelons are grown in tropical or subtropical regions. There are more than 1,200 different types of watermelon. The Arabic word is “Bateekh.”
- Vitamin A keeps hair and skin moisturized and encourages growth of new collagen and elastin cells
- Contains amino acids “citrulline” and “arginine” which can help improve muscle soreness and circulation
- “Lycopene,” inhibits chronic inflammation and improves cardiac functions
- Beta carotene, Vitamin C and Zeaxanthin can help prevent macular degeneration and keep your eyes well protected
Mulberries originate from the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, and Northern Africa, and eventually spread across Europe. In Britain, mulberries were used as medicine! In later years, Vincent Van Gogh included mulberries and their trees in numerous paintings. Today, mulberries are enjoyed fresh, as well as in jams, tarts, pies, and herbal teas. The Arabic word for mulberries is “toot“.
- Lowers the risk of cancer and neurological diseases
- Healthy tightening of tissue to make skin look younger
- Mulberries are an excellent source of iron, which is a rare feature among berries
- Contain vitamins that function as co-factors and help the human body in the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein, and fats
In Arabic, Guava is called “Amrood.” This is possibly a variant of “armoot,” meaning “pear” in Arabic and Turkish. Guava is usually eaten raw and can also be made into a fresh juice. It can also be made into jams, preserves, marmalades and candies.
- Contains Vitamin B9 (Folate) which is not produced in our body and is essential for DNA repair and synthesis
- Helps with weight loss as it is free of cholesterol and low in digestible carbohydrates
- High levels of Potassium help regulate blood pressure, improve circulation in the body and reverse effects of excessive sodium in the body
- Rich in Vitamins A, B and C which are powerful antioxidants and detoxifiers
The word orange derives from Arabic “nāranj.” The most popular type of orange from the Middle East is the “Jaffa Orange.” It is a very popular orange variant that was first developed by Palestinian farmers in the mid-19th century. Jaffa Oranges, also known as “Shamouti,” are practically seedless, with a sweet flavor and a deep orange color.
- Helps fight cancers in the lung, stomach, breast, skin, mouth and colon
- Great source of Vitamin C to boost the immune system – It produces white blood cells that destroy bacteria, viruses and other invaders. It also oxidizes cholesterol.
- Contains “herperidin flavanone,” a phytonutrient that lowers blood pressure
- High Potassium levels can flush harmful free radicals from the body and reduce kidney stones