Pink Hummous to lower your blood pressure

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Make hummous

  • 1 small roasted beet
  • 1 can of chickpeas (or 250 g cooked)
  • The zest and juice of one lemon
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • 125 mL olive oil/hemp oil/water

Bake or cook the beetroot for one hour. Once at room temperature, add all the ingredients to a blender and adjust the consistency with oil (best if hemp or olive) or simply water.

Beetroot2

Season to taste and enjoy! Here we served the hummus on raw linseed crackers with avocado, radishes and mint leaves.

The Ingredients Benefits

Beetroot

Red beetroot, together with celery, lettuce, spinach and arugula, is a vegetable rich in nitrate (just 100 g contain more than 250 mg of nitrate) [1].

Dietary nitrate can produce vasodilation, decrease blood pressure, and have platelet-stabilizing effects comparable to those in aspirin [2], hence reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases [1].

Recent studies have shown that a diet rich in vegetables (8 to 10 servings a day, including nitrate-rich vegetables) has similar cardiovascular protective effects to those achieved by hypothensive medications [1]. Furthermore, in comparison to low-doses of aspirin, prescribed in those at high risk of stroke, dietary nitrate does not cause gastrointestinal bleeding or ulcers [2].

On the contrary: nitric oxide (a metabolite of nitrate) has protective effects on the intestinal tract, namely by increasing the production of mucus on the intestinal lining [2]. A higher content of nitric oxide and a healthy cardiovascular system have also been associated to lower chances of developing erectile dysfuntion [3].beetroot

When plaques form within blood vessels, the blood flow to the heart and other organs, including the penis, is impaired, hence making it harder to get and keep an erection during sex [3].

It is important to note that nitrates and nitrites (metabolites of nitrate) are not only present in vegetables, but also in processed meats, where they are added as preservatives, to stabilize the red colour, and to develop flavour [1]. However, nitrate and nitrite in meat are associated with higher risk of certain types of cancers, whilst this effect has not been observed with vegetables [1]. A hypothesis is that nitrate from processed meats forms toxic N-nitroso compounds when metabolised by the body, whilst this does not occur with vegetables because of other nutrients only found in plants [1]

Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a good source of important minerals and vitamins, in particular of iron, calcium, potassium, beta-carotene (the precursor of vitamin A) and folate (one of the B vitamins) [4].

Chickpeas contain anti-nutritional factors like phytic acid, which reduce the absorption of nutrients from chickpeas in the intestine [4]. This hindering activity can be significantly reduced or eliminated by different techniques such as soaking, boiling, and sprouting [4].

Chickpeas
The low glycaemic index (GI) of chickpeas means that glucose slowly enters the bloodstream and does not cause sharp peaks of sugar levels in the blood [4]. This occurs because chickpeas are rich in fibers and starch, a carbohydrate that is more resistant to digestion in comparison to glucose [4].

Chickpeas are therefore an ideal food for diabetic people or those who want to reduce the risk to develop diabetes [4].

Furthermore, pulses including chickpeas have shown to have significant benefits to those at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases [5]. The fibers and saponins in legumes bind to bile acids during digestion and promote their excretion, therefore reducing the levels of total- and LDL-cholesterol in the body [5]. Bile acids are directly synthesized from cholesterol.

Previous clinical studies have shown that a simple pulse-based diet reduced the cholesterol levels in patients to the point that they were no longer required to be treated with statins [5].

It is also important to mention that the insoluble fibres from chickpeas are fermented by the gut bacteria, resulting in the production of butyrate, a fatty acid that has been reported to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer [4]. Butyrate may suppress cell proliferation and induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancerous cells [4].

Garlic

Garlic owes many of its properties (and smells) to allicin, a defence molecule that is produced after damage to the plant tissue [6]. Allicin is able to kill and inhibit the growth of fungi and bacteria, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphilococcus aureus) [6].Garlic

This makes garlic an effective natural antibiotic, to the point that it was used in World War I as for antiseptic therapy [6].

Allicin has also beneficial effects to the cardiovascular system: it suppresses cholesterol biosynthesis, inhibits platelet aggregation, and acts as antihypertensive by promoting the release of hydrogen sulfide, a compound that relaxes the smooth muscle in blood vessels, resulting in a lower blood pressure [6].

Garlic, together with onions, has recently been found to significantly enhance the absorption of minerals such as iron and zinc [7]. A couple of slices of onion or a single clove of garlic are able to increase up to 50% more the absorption of such minerals [7].

Lemon

lemon hummousTogether with garlic, lemons are able to enhance the absorption of iron up to four times more than normal [8]. Previous studies have shown that ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, can not only increase the absorption of non-heme iron (the iron found in plant) in the gut, but it can also promote iron uptake into cells and stimulate the synthesis of ferritin [9].

Ferritin is a blood cell protein that transports iron around the body and absorbs it or releases it according to the needs of the organism [9].

Because humans are not able to produce vitamin C (unlike cats for example), it is important to consume fruits and vegetables on a daily basis [9].

Sesame seeds – Tahini

Sesame seeds are an excellent source of iron, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin B1 [10]. hummous

They also contain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), a compound that might be involved in wound healing and brain development [11]. Previous studies have in fact shown that LPA has significant effects against gastric ulcer, Alzheimer’s disease, and the spread of cancerous cells around the body, also known as metastases [11].

Sesame seeds also contain two antioxidants, sesamin and sesamolin, which keep sesame seed butter (tahini) fresh for relatively long periods, and also have beneficial effects to the organism [11]. Sesamin and sesamolin have also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels in humans [11].

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References

1. Hord NG, Tang Y, Bryan NS. 2009. Food sources of nitrates and nitrites: the physiologic context for potential health benefits. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 90: 1-10.

2. McCarty MF. 2013. Dietary nitrate and reductive polyphenols may potentiate the vascular benefit and alleviate the ulcerative risk of low-dose aspirin. Medical Hyoptheses. 80: 186-190.

3. Echeverri-Tirado LC, Ferrer JE, Herrera AM. 2016. Aging and erectile dysfuction. Sexual Medicine Reviews. 4(1): 63-73.

4. Jukanti AK et al. 2012. Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): A review. British Journal of Nutrition. 108: S11-S26.

5. Abeysekara S et al. 2012. A pulse-based diet is effective for reducing total and LDL-cholesterol in older adults. British Journal of Nutrition. 108: S103-S110.

6. Borlinghaus J et al. 2014. Allicin: chemistry and biological properties. Molecules. 19: 12591-12618.

7. Gautam S, Platel K, Srinivasan K. 2010. Higher bioaccessibility of iron and zinc from food grains in the presence of garlic and onion. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 58(14): 8426-8429.

8. Monsen ER. 1988. Iron nutrition and absorption: dietary factors which impact iron bioavailabilty. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 88(7): 786-790.

9. Lane DJ, Richardson DR. 2014. The active role of vitamin C in mammalian iron metabolism: nzcg nire than just enhanced iron absorption. Free Radical Biology & Medicine. 75: 69-83.

10. Pathak N et al. 2014. Value addition in sesame: A perspective on bioactive components for enhancing utility and profitability. Pharmacognosy Reviews. 8(16): 147-155.

11. Lee BH et al. 2016. Plant lysophosphatidic acids: A rich source for bioactive lysophosphatidic acid and their pharmacological applications. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 39(2): 156-162.

Solange Brugnatelli Vianini

Solange Brugnatelli Vianini graduated in BSc Biomedical Sciences.

In her free time she enjoys trying out new recipes and sharing them with friends, and marrying this passion with her interest in sustainability, which is driving her actions towards reduced landfill waste, carbon footprint and animal products consumption. She cures a monthly recipe column on Nature Going Smart “with disease prevention in mind and planet care on the heart”.

Solange is currently researching genetic mutations by honing her bioinformatic skills at Abertay University, Scotland.

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