Nicoya: home of medicinal food and longevity

Nicoya: home of medicinal food and longevity

Costa Rica is the home of Nicoya; one of the original blue zones people are twice as likely to live to reach 90 than Americans.

It makes perfect sense to take a closer look at some of the foods that they use medicinally to learn more about the nutrients they contain and the potential benefits of adding them to your diet.

In rural Costa Rica, people are very knowledgeable about the plants they grow and how the leaves, nuts, fruits, and other parts of the plant can be used for medicinal purposes.

Chan seeds

Chan seeds are triangular black seeds used widely throughout Costa Rica and other parts of Central and South America. They are similar to chia seeds but come from a different plant — the Hyptis suaveolens that’s native to Central America.

The seeds are often soaked and then served in beverages. Due to its mucilage content, chan

Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena or lippia alba has been used for thousands of years by indigenous people in both Central and South America as a medicinal herb. Like chan seeds, it’s also known for soothing the digestive tract. However, it’s also used as a somatic, sedative, antidepressant, and for its analgesic properties. It’s thought to aid in promoting healthy muscle tissue, reducing inflammation, boosting the immune system, soothing nerves, and clearing up congestion.

Lemon Verbena is used as a somatic, sedative and antidepressant

Culantro Coyote

Culantro coyote, also known as fit weed and Mexican coriander, is a herb related to cilantro that’s used widely in the Nicoyan diet, as well as many other parts of the world, though little known in the U.S.

In Costa Rica, culantro is consumed often in soups, stews, and many other dishes.

The leaves of the culantro plant are also chewed, much like parsley, to get rid of bad breath. Adding culantro to the diet is thought to have many health benefits, from lowering inflammation in brain cells to reduce neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, to reducing pain and relieving asthma symptoms. It contains Vitamin B2 that’s known to aid in liver function and lowering blood glucose levels.

Culantro is consumed often in soups, stews, and many other dishes

Cassia Grandis Honey

Cassia grandis honey helps to relieve anaemic states due to iron deficiency and strengthen bones and teeth.

The syrup is thick and a red-brownish color and is sweet and robust with notes of brown sugar and molasses.

Hearts of Palm

Nutrient-dense and low fat, hearts of palm come from the inner core and growing bud of certain types of palm trees, including coconut, palmetto, jucara, and others.

Costa Ricans eat hearts of palm fresh in salads or cooked, and either way; they're easy to prepare.

Hearts of palm are an excellent source of polyphenol antioxidants

Hearts of palm are rich in minerals, including potassium, which helps to regulate blood pressure, copper, and iron to promote healthy blood cells and regulate cholesterol, phosphorus for strong bones and teeth, and zinc to boost the immune system.

Also, hearts of palm are an excellent source of polyphenol antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals, which damage cells. Antioxidants not only reduce inflammation, but also can lower the risk of getting diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Source: 5 Traditional Costa Rican Foods for Health and Longevity

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