Something Special about Sumac!
Q: Hey Power Nutritionist how’s it going? I hope all is well with you. I have a question about Sumac berries. I know in the past you did write about different berries and how healthy they are for athletes but I don’t remember you talking about this specific one. What are your thoughts on it and does it hold any health or performance benefits for athletes? Thanks for giving us amazing content I really appreciate all you do.
A: Hey Tara its good to hear from you. Thank you for writing in as I love hearing from all my readers. Yes you are correct! I am a big fan of different forms of berries and have written about them in the past for their antioxidant effects along with many other health benefits that they offer. I have always recommenced berries not only in my writing but also in the meal plans that I create for my athletes. If you have talked with any of my clients one thing that they will tell you is that I do provide a good daily dose of berries that is without a doubt.
So you are interested in a more rare berry here with the Sumac berry eh? Now in North America, sumac berries are not something that has the popularity of blueberries or strawberries that is for sure. But in reality they should be because of all the health benefits these little guys have. While sumac berries are not a popular food choice on this side of the pond, in other countries in central Asia it is very popular. One country in particular that really uses sumac berries in many different ways is Turkey. If you have ever eaten at a Turkish restaurant then you most likely had sumac spice which is ground and dried sumac berries in at least one of the dishes you ordered. The Turks are very fond of sumac berries and once you see how good they are for so many different things you will realize that they are right on the money by taking them in so often in their cuisine. Now you may be wondering what does it taste like? For many it has a fruity, lemon flavour that is quite distinct. I find the taste very nice and actually enjoy it very much. Now this may differ from person to person but definitely give it a try before making a decision.
So when it comes to sumac berries there are numerous things to discuss on what they can do for your health and performance. As you know when I promote a certain food I look at it not only if it can help an athlete in one way to better their performance but also to improve their quality of life as well. Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits this amazing berry has to offer.
Sumac Berry has Numerous Health Benefits!
Optimizes Blood Sugar and Prevents Insulin Resistance
High blood sugar leads to insulin resistance and then diabetes so making sure you keep your levels under control is very important. Studies have shown that sumac can lower blood sugar levels by around 15% and helped participants improve their daily blood sugar control much easier than before. In one study in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, it showed that sumac helped lower not only blood sugar levels but also insulin levels which leads to insulin resistance.
Controlling Blood Sugar is Critical for Longevity!
Supports Bone Density
Osteoporosis is a condition that is of concern especially for women over 60 years of age. In one study in 2015, it showed in animals to balance specific proteins that are key players in our body’s bone metabolism and formation that ultimately lead to a decrease in bone loss. This is very important because with each passing year bone density levels decrease. This is another reason why I have my clients perform a DEXA scan at least twice per year to monitor their bone density. Consuming sumac can help keep those bones dense and strong.
Lowers LDL Cholesterol
We all know that clogged arteries are not a benefit no matter how you look at it. Many powerlifters do suffer from elevated cholesterol levels and this can be a concern. Looking at LDL cholesterol levels alone is not a good picture into the overall health of your heart, but is just one factor to look at. One study showed that sumac helped to reduce not only elevated cholesterol levels but also elevated triglycerides as well. Another study when they combined sumac with ginger, which is another favorite spice of mine, had even a greater reduction in cholesterol levels.
A Healthy Heart is a Happy Heart!
Improves Recovery and Muscle Pain From Exercise
Another benefit that sumac berry has to offer is the fact that it can help reduce muscle pain associated with physical exercise. One study showed that when participants drank sumac berry juice they experienced less pain during exercise. Now because sumac is very high in antioxidants, this can lead to a decrease in inflammation throughout the body. Most people suffer from excess levels of inflammation. If you have read my articles over the years you already know that it is chronic inflammation that is the main cause of numerous diseases and conditions that plague much of society. Now I am not talking about the acute inflammation that occurs after a tough workout, but instead the type of inflammation that is consistent and doesn’t let up. So if you are looking to improve your recovery from exercise and reduce total body inflammation then sumac is just what you need to put out the fire.
Recovery from Your Workouts is Critical for Success!
Possesses Anti-Fungal Properties
Now one issue that affects numerous people is that of fungal issues. Now I know you might be thinking what the hell is this guy talking about? But the fact remains that with how many people eat the Standard American Diet (SAD) it sets people up not only to be very inflamed, but also nurtures the right environment for different forms of fungal infections. If you suffer from things like athlete’s foot, toe nail fungus, candida, thrush, jock itch, scalp issues and much more, then most likely you have an underlying fungal issue that is the root cause of your condition. While many medicines try to just work on the end results like applying a cream topically, the reality is that the root of the problem is the fungal issue inside your body that is now rearing its ugly head in some skin or other related problem. Sumac has some potent anti-fungal effects and has been shown in studies to fight against Aspergillus Flavus which is known to cause lung infections and other complications. This is a condition that is common with those undergoing chemotherapy. Consuming sumac in your diet is a good addition to helping prevent a fungal situation from taking hold.
Fungal Issues Like this Toenail is Very Common!
Anti-Bacterial Germ Fighter
Sumac has also been shown to possess antimicrobial properties according to a study performed in Turkey. I guess since the Turks like sumac so much in their cusisine, they want to see all that it provides for health benefits. This same study showed that it provided a potent defence agains salmonella typjimurium. You already know that I am a big fan of natural anti-bacterial agents especially if you read my series years back on oil of oregano. Most of you might not know this but the most potent form of wild oregano comes from Turkey as well.
One thing that sumac is known for is its ability to benefit digestion. In countries where it is widely consumed in their local cuisine, it is noted as a digestion tonic. It is known to help with acid reflux, diarrhea, haemorrhoids, and gastric ulcers. For any of you who have suffered with any form of digestive distress you know how horrible it can be. Consuming foods and spices that can prevent digestive issues is always a smart idea even when you are not dealing with a problem. Preventing health issues before they start is always the best form of medicine.
Optimal Digestion is a Must for getting the Most out of Your Meals!
Women’s Health Issues
Sumac also has many different health benefits for women’s issues as well. It can be applied externally for those suffering from vaginal discharge. When taken orally it can also help with painful cramps, mensuration disorders, and increase milk production in lactating mothers. For any woman that has suffered from low milk production and the headaches of dealing with a hungry newborn, you can understand how important this can be.
Supports Respiratory Health
In native medicine, sumac has been used extensively to treat chest and respiratory infections. It has proved to be beneficial for bronchitis, coughs, and chest congestion. Many will mix sumac with honey to provide an effective natural cough syrup. It is also used to help reduce fevers which are common when fighting off other types of infections.
Ground Sumac is a Common Spice in Different Cuisines!
So here you have it. Sumac does offer a ton of natural health benefits for numerous issues. I personally like the potent antioxidant protection that it provides due to the fact it is one of the strongest berries for its ORAC score. Even though this spice is not used much in the West, it is definitely something that is easy to incorporate in your diet in one way or another. It can be used in a wide variety of dishes because it compliments a wide variety of foods quite well. For those of you who might like to take advantage of its health benefits without adding it to your macaroni and cheese ( I am kidding here) you can also take Sumac in a supplement form. You can get it in tea or even in a tincture form. This way these concentrated forms allow you to take in a potent dose of sumac even if you are not interested in introducing it to your meals. So now that you understand all that this wonderful berry has to offer your health and performance, now is the time to take advantage of it!