As promised this is the third article in my “ Nutrition in Ramadan “ series.
Today let’s talk about a most important yet forgotten Sunnah- Incorporating Sunnah foods in our daily diet.
Now when I list the foods below , some of you might be amazed that most of these foods are common fruits and vegetables that we have almost weekly if not daily and why do we need this reminder.
Well firstly because when we are buying, preparing and eating these common foods the main thing that is missing is the “niyyah” or intention.
As we know our Islam lays great emphasis on “niyyah”. From standing up for prayers, to keeping a fast or even thinking of helping another person, we need to make the right intention to get the action right as well as the reward. Hence when we eat those simple common foods with the intention of following a Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad SAWS, they are elevated to the status of “Sunnah Foods” and not only will our physical body experience greater health benefits but Insha Allah our soul will also experience peace and fulfillment of following the blessed ways of our Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).
Every action and word of Prophet Muhammed SAWS was with Allah’s leave and had a divine wisdom and benefit behind it. This is something we should remember regarding his eating habits as well and hence try to emulate them and follow them as we follow all his other Sunnahs. So all the foods he ate, the amount he ate as well the way he ate should be something that we try to incorporate as well.
Following are 5 Sunnah foods specifically chosen for Ramadan that we can include in our suhoor and iftaar Insha Allah and start reaping innumerable rewards this Ramadan. I also want to list the nutritional health benefits of these foods. I am constantly amazed by the wisdom our Prophet Muhammed SAWS had almost 1438 years ago regarding foods and their combination that science is just now confirming.
Remember all you need to do is make the intention of following a Sunnah when we are eating the food!
- Dates: Allhumdullilah this is the most simple, and common sunnah foods that we use in Ramadan to break our fasts and most of us know its importance in Islam. Also used in making the Nabeez (Prophetic Drink; see my earlier blog for more details). However here I want to stress on the nutritional benefits of dates. They are a very good source of:
- Iron- prevents anemia.
- Magnesium- important role in nervous system integrity
- Potassium- regulates and lowers Blood Pressure
- Vitamin A- for healthy skin and eyesight
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin) & Folic Acid – Reduces LDL and essential for metabolism.
2. Watermelon- Perfect for opening your fast and included in most Iftaars did you know they are a Sunnah Food as well! Prophet Muhammad SAWS used to combine them with dates commenting that the heat of the dates is overcome by the coolness of the watermelon.
- They are 92% water and hence perfect for hydrating this Ramadan which falls in summer months.
- Very high in Beta-carotene useful in maintaining healthy skin and epithelial tissue.
- Rich in Lycopene- an antioxidant that helps in fighting cancer.
Want to get the most benefits while making a juice? Blend it with the seeds to get the most important phytonutrients contained in the seed!
3.Cucumbers: Most of the time we tend to focus on fruits in Ramadan and the poor vegetables are ignored! Let’s try including some veggies this Ramadan as well and the most hydrating and cooling of them is a cucumber! This is an important Sunnah Food composed of around 95% water great for hydrating again.
- This is also a food that the Prophet Muhammad SAWS used to combine with dates saying “The heat of the latter is reduced by the coolness of the former”.
- Cucumbers contain ascorbic acid as well as caffeic acid both of which help soothe skin irritation and reduce water retention, helping in reducing the heat boils that accompany fasting for some people.
Contains many minerals such as silica, potassium, magnesium and molybdenum, essential for tissue, cartilage and joint health!
4. Barley: Barley is a perfect food in Ramadan since it has a low glycemic index, which means that it causes a slow rise in the blood sugar level after consumption thus causing slow release of insulin and steady blood sugar levels.
- Try preparing barley soup for iftaar. Barley is rich in chromium that prevents sugar cravings, essential after a long day of fasting!
- Barley germ is rich in essential fatty acids(linoleic and linolenic acids) which are crucial in synthesis of hemoglobin, prostaglandins and cell walls.
- Try having Barley water flavored with fresh lemon juice and honey and crushed ice instead of the highly sweetened beverages served at most iftaars!
5. Grapes and Raisins: Raisins have numerous benefits and it was said during the Prophet’s time “ they relieve fatigue, cool away rage, strengthen the nerves and clear the skin color. One of the favorite foods of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), he also used them to make the Nabeez.
- They are one of the most powerful natural source of antioxidants.
- Grapes contain a phytonutrient known as ELLAGIC ACID and skin of red grapes contains RESVERATROL, both of these help fight cancer.
- Perfect energy boosting snacks after fasting long hours and also rich in potassium, a mineral also known for relieving mental confusion and depression.
So as you can see these Sunnah foods are also extremely beneficial to our health. I have just touched the tip of the iceberg. There are many more such wonderful Sunnah Foods that we can include in our daily meals that will give us both physical and spiritual benefits.
So Insha Allah let us make the intention of following “A SUNNAH” and dig into these delicious foods!