The people of Okinawa have become masters in the art to accommodate spices and herbs, which are a veritable pharmacopoeia for the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory drugs, such as turmeric or ginger.
The Kingdom of the Ryukyus was a hub of the spice trade. This has given the inhabitants some additional advantages, especially turmeric, unknown to the Japanese, who took a considerable place.
The Okinawans have developed three species of ucchin (ukon Japan): purple turmeric, to whom is attributed the stomach protective virtues, spring turmeric, which would be especially good for the heart, and turmeric autumn which is used to reduce the effects of alcohol. But many other spices are used, some unique to Okinawa, as black garlic.
The arsenal of spices
Turmeric, ginger and galangal, which belong to the same family Zingiberaceae, are considered among the most antioxidant and anti-inflammatory of all spices. These effects, due to the active ingredients identified by the generic term “curcumin” with a variety of molecules, have been shown as powerful as the conventional anti-inflammatory treatment in severe articular pathologies (while protecting the gastrointestinal tract, for Unlike medicines) and effective against post-operative pain. Turmeric has been used for centuries in the treatment of external injuries. Its effectiveness appears also interesting about the risks of infection than on pain. Recent studies have shown to be both anti-viral effect and stimulation of white blood cells responsible for anti-infectious defenses. Many other highlight the ability of the active ingredients of turmeric to interfere with the initiation, promotion and progression of tumors, especially digestive.
Other studies show similar effects of ginger, which proves further anti-nausea . Other antioxidants and anti-toxic extracts of ginger and turmeric are under study.
The absorption of the active principles of these spices is potentiated by the presence of small amounts of pepper.
Cinnamon, besides being effective as antioxidant, is one of the foods to the most powerful hypoglycemic effects known. It was possible to document a similar effect to insulin in diabetics.
Sesame, mostly as seed, is widely used in Okinawa, including in cakes. There are white sesame and black sesame. Sesame contains another antioxidant, sesaminol, particularly interesting because able to raise interest rates from a form of vitamin E higher in case of infection, inflammation or atherosclerosis as the usual form . It is also particularly rich in calcium, like many spices.
The benefits of herbs
Very popular, and carriers, like many foods and most herbs, spices and teas in Okinawa, a double therapeutic food and cap, fennel seeds contain spasmolytic terpenoids able to reduce the number of gastrointestinal disturbances (often related to stress tensions in our region: flatulence, stomach heaviness, gallbladder tension, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome spastic, constipation …).
Garlic, identified by most ancient cultures as a food handler is represented in Okinawa by endemic species, black garlic. Garlic, like onions, shallots, chives and other members of the allium family, contains sulfur amino acids and liver detoxification drivers help protect genes, so to slow aging and reduce cancer risks. Many centenarians in the world have listed garlic as a factor in their longevity. In addition, other active ingredients mostly found in garlic and onion activate clots cleaners systems (fibrinolysis) in the arteries. These are drugs with similar effects that are used in emergency to unblock the flow in the arteries of the heart during a heart attack. Garlic thus also helps prevent phlebitis, embolism, stroke and heart attack. Finally, it recognizes allicin contained in garlic bacteriostatic powers.
Fresh herbs and spices, seeds or powdered herbs, also have an important place in Okinawa, especially the shiso, or Perilla Nanjing. We find two forms, a green shape and purple form (akashiso). Note that with eggplant (nasu), the purple sweet potato (beni-imo), purple turmeric, red onion, black garlic, purple and purple rice pittaya, the Okinawans have a predilection for food of these shades. We could add red cabbage, beets, plums, figs, black grapes, red wine, blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, blue corn Hopi Indians. A common point: they are rich in flavonoids, the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory among the most powerful, capable of neutralizing iron (unlike conventional antioxidants such as vitamin C which becomes pro-oxidant in the presence of iron) and strongly attracted to connective tissues (blood vessels, joints, bones …) they protect. Flavonoids are capable of reducing the risk of cataracts and degeneration of nerves related sugar and lactose milk, by inhibition of the enzyme aldose reductase.
That alone! … We remain stunned by the intuitive intelligence of the elders of the archipelago. Outside the purple shiso, green herbs and spices also contain many other antioxidants (some classics, such as vitamin C), chlorophyll, calcium and a whole universe of active ingredients, most of which have not yet been studied . Also a great place to Okinawa fennel seeds and leaves (ichoba), the Japanese mustard greens (komatsuna), two peppers: the koregustu (chili) and Sansho the kandaba (tops sweet potato), the Nigana (a sheet that looks like turnip greens), the sakuna or “longevity herb”, as well as food intake in soups, for example, that herbal treatment against allergy and inflammation.
Plantain leaves (obako), added to salads, vegetables wok seized or used in infusion, have a mild laxative effect and reduce the absorption of sugars and fats. It was also found in addition to slightly laxative fiber, high levels of vitamin C, flavonoids and saponins in the leaves of chickweed (shiruminna).
These are just some examples of true pharmacopoeia that hides in salads and other dishes of Okinawa.