A southern Europe or Mediterranean diet consists of fish, olive oil, fruit, veg, nuts and whole grains. With 3-4 servings of fish a week, no more than three portions of meat a week and daily servings of three portions of fruit and four portions of vegetable. All this with legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds and of course olive oil and herbs.
This was the first major study to look at the impact of the med diet and on the survival of heart patients. And experts concluded that it cut the chances of early death by 37%. Put against research on the drug statins used to control the heart issues/cholesterol, the outcome was truly remarkable as statistics on those just taking statins were more like an 18% cut in death rate.
The results were so remarkable in fact that some have suggested subsidising fruit and veg to help encourage eating habit changes. And to help those with not just heart disease but also diabetes and cancer. “The natural health service pays for drugs but it doesn’t pay for vegetables, maybe the state should consider contributing towards Med. food diets” was one quote.
This and other similar conversations were played out in Rome at the world’s biggest heart conference to date. The findings were discussed extensively and they concluded that the diet “was more powerful than any drug”. (They also cautioned that the figures were not directly comparable and that some heart patients could get maximum benefit by switching to the med diet and also taking statins).
Also taking place in Italy was a study carried out by researchers at the university of California (San Diego school of medicine) with colleagues at the university of Rome (La Sapienza). Together they studied villagers living in a remote Italian village nestled between the ocean and mountains, called acciaroli. Here rosemary grows abundantly, and it’s inhabitants naturally eat a Mediterranean diet with almost daily use of rosemary. The study chose this particular village because the villagers have very low rates of heart disease and Alzheimer’s and were curious to know why. In fact, 300 of these locals are all more than 100 years old! These villagers also walked long distances on a daily basis through their mountains. The effects of the diet, lifestyle and environment, said the researchers seems to have resulted in one surprising finding; the villagers had low levels of adrenomedullin, a hormone that acts to widen blood vessels. (Usually increasing as we age) Adrenomedullin is present “in a much-reduced quantity in the subjects studied and seems to act as a powerful protecting factor, helping the optimal development of microcirculation”, said researchers. The villagers’ capillary blood vessels were more typical of twenty-year-olds, they said.
So these findings were by no means all down to rosemary and were in a large part the Mediterranean diet and healthy doses of exercise but I would say we could all try and have a little more of rosemary in our lives. It’s not as sweet as thyme and is in fact slightly bitter and strong tasting. So it takes getting used to but a little goes a long way. However, it is, of course, a member of the Lamiaceae family and so other family members will share similar biochemistry like oregano, basil, lavender, and mint. For example, Rosmarinic acid is also found in sage, oregano and thyme. And carnosic acid is also found in sage, which is a compound capable of protecting the brain from strokes and other neuro-degenerative diseases like normal brain ageing and Alzheimer’s. The really clever bit is that the carnosic acid is activated when necessary, in other words, it can determine free radical damage and step in to help repair the damage as needed.
Rosemary also contains 1,8- cineole which hugely helps concentration and memory. Rosemary is enormously anti- inflammatory and will help all ageing and metabolic diseases that cause inflammation.
Notably, it also inhibits the formation of HCA’S (Heterocyclic Amines) which is cancer-causing compounds found in grilled meats, pan-fried meats etc. No coincidence that Mediterranean peoples always throw in rosemary when grilling meat! Not least it ‘cuts’ the fat….’
Both rosemary and oregano help those with blood sugar issues; diabetes and hypoglycaemia. Rosemary is hugely anti-bacterial including specifically helicobacter pylori and staphylococcus infections. But also any kind of indigestion, nausea, constipation and diarrhoea.
It can help the kidneys by aiding the flushing of toxins, salt and harmful excessive fats. Being bitter it also helps detox the liver. I could go on but you get the point!
Per large mug:
2 tsp fresh or 1tsp dried rosemary
Pour over hot water and leave for 5-10 mins
Any blended smoothie of Superfood Plus powder with veggies and or fruits and nuts, add 1 tsp of fresh rosemary leaves (or ½ tsp dried)
Rosemary amounts & contra-indications
Just be aware that rosemary for those with high blood pressure will need caution because it is very circulatory it can in high quantities push blood pressure up higher. So keep intake lower than those whose blood pressure is normal. Certainly don’t use it as a concentrated tincture just low-ish cooking amounts.