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Sumac, the little-known anti-inflammatory and diuretic superfood in Spain

Better known in Spain as sumac (although not much) and also called rhus or sumac, is a spice from Arabic cuisine with anti-inflammatory properties. Intense red in color, it can be used as a substitute for vinegar or lemon, and is rich in antioxidants.

It is obtained from the Rhus coriaria plant, a genus with approximately 250 species of phanerogamous plants belonging to the Anacardiaceae family, commonly called sumac. Cultivated in many areas of the Middle East, North America and Africa, The most used is Syrian sumac, recognized for its culinary and medicinal qualities..

As part of a balanced diet, sumac provides carbohydrates, fats, proteins and minerals such as calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.

Properties and benefits of sumac

  • Antioxidant: Helps fight free radicals and slow down the damage they cause to cells. It also helps control glucose and improves insulin sensitivity, very useful in cases of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and overweight and obesity problems.
  • Diuretic: helps control blood pressure and eliminate toxic substances in the kidneys, reduces inflammation of the bladder.
  • Cardiovascular: prevents weight gain, reduces triglyceride levels and balances cholesterol and protects arteries.
  • Digestive: In the Middle East it is used as an infusion for stomach aches and pains.
  • Anti-inflammatory– Helps relieve muscle pain and inflammation in joint problems. In Arab tradition, women use sumac tea to relieve menstrual pain and increase milk production.
  • Antibacterial– Helps fight infections caused by bacteria and viruses.
  • Anticancer: its composition is being studied for the treatment of some types of tumors.

How to use

The red fruits of the sumac plant are dried and ground to obtain a powder of intense red color, fine and with an acidic flavor.

In Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cuisine it is added to salads or hummus and also as a spice to season both meat and fish.. In Arabic cuisine it is part of a commonly used condiment known as Za’atar, which also contains sesame seeds, thyme, basil and salt; with a tastier flavor, although it maintains the aftertaste of sumac.

In addition to these uses, try sprinkling it on dishes like fried eggs, babaganoush, tomato and feta salad, or on roasted vegetables like cauliflower, sweet potatoes, eggplant or carrots to enhance flavor and nutrition.

It is important to remember that sumac (Rhus coriaria) is not the same as poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix). which produces white fruits that should not be ingested under any circumstances, in fact, just contact with the skin can cause inflammation and itching.

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