Friday, July 12, 2013

6 Super Spices

  Spices are an easy, and healthy, way to add immense flavor and taste to our food. They don't add calories, yet they pack some serious spice and seasoning. What is often overlooked in regards to spices are the tremendous health benefits that can be reaped by using a select few on a regular basis.

  Did you know that many spices naturally have anti-inflammatory properties and are powerful antioxidants? Check out these six super spices that not only add some flavor to your meal, but benefit your body as well! 

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”  -- Hippocrates

A couple sprinkles a day can help keep the doctor away.
Dried Red Pepper:
  Capsaicin (the stuff that makes it spicy!) allows dried red pepper flakes to fight inflammation. Generally speaking, the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. Capsaicin can also reduce the formation of blood clots by preventing platelets from clumping together, and help clear congestion.

  Dried red pepper flakes may lower the risk of skin and colon cancers, as well as type 2 diabetes. Some studies show it also helps people lose weight because the spicy flavor suppresses appetite.

  Try it on pasta or pizza. I even spice up my chicken with it every once in a while! However, if heat's not for you, you may want to pass on the dried red pepper flakes. 

  As I previously blogged, just 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon a day can lower blood sugar levels, and helps type 2 diabetics lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides.

  Like dried red pepper flakes, cinnamon also has anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties (ladies, it can help with cramps). Cinnamon is anti-microbial as well, and can help stop the growth of bacteria and fungus.

  Try cinnamon sprinkled on oatmeal, applesauce, or even in coffee.

Ground Cumin:
  Cumin is a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant (rich in vitamin C) that may help stop tumor growth. It can also aid with iron deficiency since each teaspoon provides 4 milligrams of iron.

  Cumin also facilitates the digestive process, as it activates the salivary glands in our mouths.

  Try cumin in tacos, on sauteed vegetables, or use it as a rub on meats. 

Your spice rack could aid your medicine cabinet.
   Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic food. It provides manganese, iron, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber.

  Turmeric contains an active component called curcumin, which allows turmeric to have wide-ranging benefits. Regular use of turmeric reduces risks of prostate, skin, breast, colon, and stomach cancers. Childhood leukemia risks go down, and so do risks of heart disease and Alzheimer's.

  Try turmeric in soups, stews, lentils, or curry dishes.

   Ginger is renowned for effectively treating various gastrointestinal distresses. It can stop nausea and relieve heartburn and bloating. Research has also shown ginger to aid the relief of migraines and morning sickness.

  Try grating fresh ginger onto stir-fries, into salad dressings, or in lemonade or tea.
   Nutmeg, like cinnamon, has a variety of health benefits. It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, along with aiding with indigestion relief. If you have achy joints and muscles, or digestion problems, nutmeg might be beneficial.

  It has also long been used to help solve the age-old problem of insomnia. Try nutmeg powder in milk before bed to help get a good night's sleep.

  Nutmeg may also help fights listeria, E. coli, and salmonella according to research.

  Try nutmeg in soups of chicken dishes, or on sweet potatoes.

  As always, there's no need to go overboard, and dump piles of ginger or nutmeg into everything you eat (as too much of anything can cause harmful side effects)! But definitely check out the healthful benefits you could be missing out on. If there's something I've touched on that looks interesting, or might help you out, research it yourself, and give it a shot!

  At the very least, you'll add a little more flavor to your life, and discover new ways of cooking tired recipes. 

Let me know what you think!



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