27 February, 2023
What’s with all the fuss about spices in Lebanese food?

Spice up your life.

The history of spicy foods in Lebanon is tied to the region as a crossroads for trade, commerce and culture. Its people have lived along the Mediterranean coast for thousands of years, becoming masters at preserving food through salting and drying.

Spicy foods are a staple in Lebanese cuisine and have been for centuries. The spices used to season these dishes play an important role in the way they taste, but also in their health benefits.

The history of spicy foods in Lebanon can be traced back to ancient times when wild pepper was used to spice up meals. In fact, the word “spice” itself comes from the Arabic word “safir” which means pungent herb or spice.

Spices and herbs were used to treat various ailments, including colds and coughs, issues such as fever, stomach aches and insomnia, and even toothaches. Spicy foods were also believed to help digestion and promote good health in general.

The earliest recorded use of spices in Lebanon dates back to 1598 when a physician named Salim Ben Abdallah wrote about their medicinal properties in his book “Treatise on the Properties of Drugs.”

Below, we enumerate some of the health benefits of spices; but before this, if you find yourself asking, “what is the best Lebanese restaurant in Sydney” and craving some of the best Lebanese food, after reading this article, do not say we did not warn you!

The benefits of Spicy Lebanese food

1. Weight loss

Spicy foods can help control your appetite by increasing your body’s sensitivity to insulin — a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels in the body. This makes it easier for your body to regulate fat storage, which means you’ll feel less hungry after eating spicy foods and eat less overall — both of which lead to weight loss!

2. Heart health

Spicy foods boost the immune system, help fight cancer and other diseases such as diabetes, and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer and osteoporosis (loss of bone density). It contains high amounts of antioxidants and many nutrients like vitamin C, which is necessary for energy production, and calcium which is important for bone strength and teeth formation and helps fight off illness.

3. Protection against cancer

One study from the Journal of Food Science found that capsaicin, an active ingredient found in chilli peppers, can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Spicy foods help prevent certain types of cancer, such as stomach and colon cancer, by boosting the immune system’s ability to fight off infections from viruses and bacteria that cause these types of cancers.

4. Reduced risk of heart disease

Spicy foods can help you to lower your cholesterol levels by slowing down the production of fatty acids in your liver and muscles, which can help prevent heart disease or stroke in the future! Moreover, inflammation drives plaque buildup in blood vessel walls. Since capsaicin reduces inflammation, it may help prevent that process from happening. It may also help to boost your immune system, further reducing risk. Spicy food can reduce some immune cell responses driving atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

In addition to these health benefits, spicy foods can help increase your energy levels and keep you focused throughout the day.

Here are six spicy Lebanese Dishes to try at Zahli Restaurant:

Shanklish is a spicy aged cheese, mixed with tomato, onion, and parsley, topped with fresh pomegranate seeds.

Samki Beirutiyeh, a seared barramundi fillet topped with spicy tomato salsa and roasted mixed nuts.

Samki Harra is a seared barramundi fillet topped with spicy tahini sauce and roasted mixed nuts.

Mansaf lamb, a traditional dish made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt and served with rice.

Shawarma lamb, our take on the renowned Lebanese sandwich.

Lahem mishwee, a chargrilled tender lamb marinated in mixed spices, served with chilli bread and muhammara sauce (hot pepper dip) served with grilled tomato and onion.

Mouhamara is a hot pepper dip with walnuts, garlic, lemon, red capsicum, bread crumbs, and pomegranate molasses.

As the best Lebanese restaurant in Sydney, we work hard so you do not miss out! Our menu items are crafted with love and patience, recipes of old that are specifically tailored to draw smiles and make you fall in love with unique fresh flavours, textures and more. Speaking from experience, you will not regret this!

Reserve your table now.