I recently came across an interesting Q and A from NPR about the Middle Eastern spice mixture known as za’atar. Apparently za’atar–a blend of sesame seeds, sumac, and oregano, thyme, or marjoram–has a reputation for being a “brain food” among many other supposed health benefits. So what is the real story?
According to the article, thyme and oregano contain a compound called carvacrol, which in mice, can affect dopamine and serotonin levels. But I was surprised that the article didn’t mention the potential brain benefits of sesame seeds. Sesame seeds contain lipophilic antioxidants, which may prevent age-related diseases.
Most Middle Eastern home cooks have their own special blends of za’atar that they mix up without a recipe. If you’d like to try making some, you can try this recipe.
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