Traditional Natural Remedies 

Traditional Caribbean Cuisine is healthy because it is made with many unprocessed foods, uses smaller portions of meats, has a high content of fish, beans, and vegetables, and, most of all, because it is an eclectic mix of the best that African, European, Indian, and Chinese cuisines have to offer. Moreover, older West Indians have always been aware of the relationship between food and health. Perhaps the cuisine is healthy due to luck or happenstance. How else can anyone explain why some of the most highly rated medicinal herbs, e.g., ginger, garlic, all spice and hot peppers just happen to be the basic seasonings used in Jamaican cuisine.

In this section we will provide information on some of the benefits of some common tropical foods.

Cassava or Yucca

(also known as manioc and is used to make tapioca) can help prevent heart disease, reduce the risk of cancer, prevent cataracts, and help keep skin smooth. While cassava is not well known in the US it is the world's number two vegetable crop, after potatoes. Cassava is uniquely laden with iron plus vitamin C which you need to help your body to absorb iron. It is also a good source of magnesium which helps to protect your heart, bones, arteries and blood pressure. A half cup of cooked cassava contains 13 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for women and 30 percent for men. And because it also contains 35 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, the iron in cassava is much easier to absorb.


This favourite of vegetables can help lower blood pressure, prevent and treat ulcers, prevent constipation, decrease the risk of hear disease. While plantains look like large bananas they are as different as apples and oranges. Unlike bananas, plantains need to be cooked before they are eaten. Plantains also pack different nutrients. Ounce for ounce, plantains contain more potassium than bananas. That means a plateful of plantains will reduce high blood pressure. One cup of cooked plantains contain 716 milligrams of or 20 percent of the daily value of potassium. And potassium is well established as a key mineral for heart disease prevention. Studies show people whose diets are low in potassium are at higher risk for high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. A cup of cooked plantains provide about 49 milligrams of magnesium, or more than 12 percent of the daily value. Magnesium is another mineral that can help lower blood pressure, especially among people who are sensitive to sodium. Therefore, next time you are at your favorite Jamaican eatery, load up on those plantains. (Source: The Doctors Book of Food Remedies, 1998 Rodale Inc.)


Forget what you have heard about this main staple of the Jamaican diet. Coconut oil is, "rich in lauric acid, "which new research shows raises good type HDL cholesterol, lowering heart disease risk, Lauric acid is also anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antiviral, says lipid researcher Mary Enig, Ph.D., which also may help fight heart disease." (USA Today Sept. 26-28 2003)


You could say that Callaloo, a leafy vegetable, plays a role in the Jamaican diet that is similar to the role Spinach plays in the American diet. But that would understate the importance of callaloo in the Jamaican diet. And those who have had both agree callaloo has more going for it than spinach. Steamed callaloo is often served with breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is cooked with codfish and used in soups. And it is used increasingly in non-traditional Jamaican dishes such as quiche and omelets etc.

Callaloo is rich in nutrients including : iron and other minerals, vitamin C, flavonoids and other phytochemicals, calcium, and vitamin A. Callaloo has over four times the calcium, over two times the iron, and over two times the vitamin A compared to broccoli and other vegetables.


Lemon Grass tea

This a a very fragrant lemony-smelling grass.   It is taken during fevers as it produces profuse perspiration which cools down the body.   A lovely smell and great taste.

Cerasee tea

Cerasee tea cleanses the insides.   It is also  said to be good for stomach pains.   That's after you've got over the pain of having to drink it.   It is extremely bitter - no matter how much sugar you put in it.

Castor Oil

A dose of castor oil was felt useful to give a 'wash out' of the the rubbish that has been eaten.

Onion and Garlic.

Onion and Garlic reduce cholesterol levels.   Particularly if they are raw, or barely cooked.  


Ginger tea is used to warm the stomach and help to alleviate gas and stomach pains.    It is used with a little rum to relive the symptoms of flu, and to cleanse the kidneys.  Recent research has proven that it helps stimulate blood circulation.


The best liquid to add to the diet is water.    This of course is not a Caribbean phenomena,  but is essential for good health.


Aloe, Aloe Vera  

This is a tender perennial which makes a terrific houseplant, thriving in dim indoor light and with infrequent watering. The benefits of this plant are numerous. It can be taken internally and used externally.

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