These tiny little nutrition gems are widely known for being a healthier alternative to boosting flavor without adding extra salt, but they are useful in other ways as well. You may be surprised to hear that herbs and spices not only add a world of flavor to your meals, but have also been extensively studied for their beneficial health properties.
1. CINNAMON. Perhaps one of the most popular spices used, cinnamon has been brought up in the media recently for its potential ability to regulate blood sugar levels, lowering the risk for diabetes. In addition, as little as 1 teaspoon has been shown to have the antioxidant power of ½ cup of blueberries! Try topping your oatmeal or smoothies with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon to reap these benefits.
2. GARLIC. Although its effects on our breath are widely known, less is known about the potential health benefits of garlic consumption. Garlic is rich in a variety of powerful sulfur-containing compounds, the most notable one being allicin. Studies have linked allicin to potential benefits in antibacterial and antiviral activity, as well as possible decreases in blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Try roasting a head of garlic with a drizzle of olive oil for a creamy spread or topping for meats and vegetables.
3. TURMERIC. It is responsible for the deep yellow colour of mustards and curry powders, and is currently being extensively researched as an anti-cancer food. Rich in antioxidants, it has been studied as a treatment for depression, arthritis, cancer, and psoriasis, with promising results. Those with gallstones or bile obstructions should exercise caution however, as turmeric can increase the production of bile. Try adding it to egg salad for a nice yellow hue and pinch of flavor.
4. CAYENNE PEPPER. Used to spice up all kinds of meals, cayenne pepper is a member of the chili pepper family, and rich in the health promoting compound capsaicin. Capsaicin has been studied for its anti-inflammatory effects related to treating aching pain associated with headaches or osteoarthritis. It may also help control hunger pangs and boost the metabolism due to its spicy nature, which can aid those trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Try sprinkling cayenne pepper and cinnamon on sweet potato fries for the perfect sweet-spicy combination.
5. GINGER. Ginger has long been used as a traditional natural remedy for many different ailments, and is being researched further in hopes of discovering other optimal health advantages. It is an excellent treatment for nausea and vomiting associated with travel sickness, pregnancy, and even hangovers! Ginger’s other health benefits include pain relief, cholesterol decreases and as a powerful decongestant. Try adding fresh grated ginger to sautéed vegetables, bread stuffings or salad dressings.
Did you know that 1.2 teaspoon ground cinnamon has as many antioxidants as 1/2 cup raspberries?
Did you know that 1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves has as many antioxidants as 3 cups spinach?
Thanks to McCormick Spices for Health
Were you surprised at these health promoting effects? What other spices do you use that have showed similar benefits? Please share any great recipes you have that use these spices!
By Mitzi Dulan with research assistance from Megan Skinner