Spices do more than flavor your favorite foods. Everyone hears about how great antioxidants are. How many times have you heard about eating more foods like fruits and vegetables that provide antioxidants which can protect you against heart disease, cancer and other diseases?
Did you know that spices also contain antioxidants? There is a lot of research checking out the anti-inflammatory properties of spices. Inflammation is known to bring on heart disease, allergies, Alzheimer’s and chronic diseases. And listen up, spices are also known to raise metabolism and promote satiety which aids with weight loss. So the next time you reach for the salt, try out some of these spices instead.
Cardamom - An ancient spice used in desserts, vegetables, curries and pilaf rice dishes. These aromatic seeds contain an oil that helps to stimulate digestion and relieve flatulence.
Cinnamon – This warming spice is a common ingredient in toothpaste, mouthwashes and chewing gum. It is also found in traditional sweets, cakes and desserts as well as many savory dishes. It is useful for improving circulation and has anti-inflammatory and blood thinning properties. Research shows that it may also help to lower blood sugar levels and so may be useful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. I use cinnamon on my cereal and oatmeal.
Cloves – Cloves are often used as a pickling spice but can also be added to syrups for poaching fruits or to drinks such as mulled wine. Clove oil is well known as a treatment for toothache, and its antiseptic properties make it an excellent mouthwash. Cloves have also been known to relieve the stiffness and pain associated with arthritis. It is a warming spice which can help reduce congestion and stimulate digestion.
Cumin – Cumin is traditionally used in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking for curries, chillis, stews and breads. It is a good source of iron and manganese and is thought to help digestion and bloating.
Ginger – Ginger is an essential ingredient in Asian and Indian cooking. It is also commonly used to flavor cakes, biscuits and desserts. Ginger contains antioxidants and can help protect against disease. It can help calm spasms and reduce flatulence in the digestive system. It is an excellent treatment for nausea associated with travel sickness, pregnancy and hangovers.
Turmeric – This spice gives curry powder and mustard their deep yellow color. Rich in antioxidants, researchers have discovered that it may help in the fight against cancer as well as containing inflammation fighting compounds which may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and joint inflammation. Use in soups, curries and stews.
Oregano – One teaspoon has as much antioxidant power as three cups of chopped broccoli. Add oregano to pasta, pizza sauce or on a grilled cheese sandwich.
Dried Red Peppers - Spices derived from red peppers include cayenne, crushed red pepper and paprika. In addition to adding fiery flavor, these spices may enhance metabolism which increases satiety and stimulates fat burning. Use these spices in hummus, guacamole, cottage cheese or mashed potatoes.
Rosemary – The compounds in rosemary appear to help reduce inflammation in the body which is a trigger and indirect risk factor for many chronic diseases. Rosemary is also being studied for its role in heart health. Include rosemary in marinades for meats and tomato sauces as well as whole grain breads and rolls.
Thyme – In addition to the antioxidant advantages, research is looking at the role of compounds in thyme in relation to respiratory function. Great on vegetables, fish and in stir-frys.
With my tendencies towards high blood pressure, I have to watch the amount of ginger and cloves I use. Before you start adding spices to all your foods, be sure to check with your doctor. For more information about spices, check out Healthy Cooking With Spices.