Spices can do more than add a little flavor to your favorite dish, many provide health benefits too! A pinch here and a dash there of certain spices not only helps you to reduce the salt, sugar, and fat content of your meal, but the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties characteristic of these seasonings can also protect you from developing chronic diseases. Symptoms, such as nausea and arthritic pain, can be alleviated as well by use of spices. Here are a few that you will want to keep stocked in your pantry:
- Reduces blood sugar, triglyceride, LDL-cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels of individuals with known type 2 diabetes and, therefore, may reduce the risk for heart disease in this population.
- Store cinnamon in a sealed container in a dark, cool, and dry place.
- Enjoy cinnamon sprinkled on yogurt, smoothies, roasted nuts, squash, sliced apples,whole-grain toast, oatmeal, and hot beverages (e.g., tea).
- Safety concern: Contains oxalate which can pose a problem for individuals prone to developing calcium oxalate kidney stones. Use of cinnamon by these individuals should be discussed with a health care practioner.
- Protects against certain cancers (e.g., colon cancer) and heart disease due to the presence of curcumin, the yellow pigment of turmeric, which has antioxidant properties. Curcumin also has anti-inflammatory properties that have been shown to be effective in alleviating the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis (e.g., joint swelling and morning stiffness). Other health benefits asscoiated with turmeric include a reduced risk for diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
- Ground dried turmeric powder should be stored in a sealed container in a dark, cool, and dry place. Fresh turmeric should be kept in the refrigerator.
- Add to grain (e.g., rice) and bean/legume-based dishes and sauces.
- Alleviates symtpoms of nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness and morning sickness. It also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties (from the presence of gingerols) which help to provide relief from pain and swelling related to osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Ground dried ginger powder should be stored in a sealed container in a dark, cool, and dry place. Fresh ginger should be kept in the refrigerator.
- Ginger can be used to season meats, poultry, and fish and added to stir-frys, grain dishes, and desserts. Ginger can also be made into a tea.
- Safety concern: Ginger contains oxalate which can pose a problem for individuals who are prone to developing calcium oxalate kidney stones. Use of ginger by these individuals should be discussed with a health care practitioner.
Cayenne (Red) Pepper
- Contains capsaicin which has been shown to be an effective pain reliever. Consuming cayenne pepper has also been linked to the protection against heart disease. It lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduces the formation of blood clots that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
- Store in a sealed container in a dark, cool, and dry place.
- Add to bean, legume, and pasta dishes. Sprinkle on salads, roasted nuts, or popcorn.
What is your favorite way to add spices to your meals? Share with us, we want to know!
Source of Information:
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, 2005, Murray, M.