Without herbs and spices, the food we eat would be pretty bland and unappetizing. Despite how much we rely on them for adding flavor and deliciousness to our food, there are certain spices that may have plenty of health benefits as well.
The next time you cook, try to incorporate one of these five spices into your dishes:
1. Turmeric: If you’re a fan of Indian cooking, then you’re probably already familiar with turmeric, a spice that is known for its pungent and peppery flavor. The famous spice is part of the ginger family and has been used for more than 4,000 years because of its health benefits1. Turmeric contains compounds called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin. Curcumin is known to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.
2. Cinnamon: This spice was once just as valuable as gold, silver, and ivory. Cinnamon is a very versatile spice because it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It can be found in everything from baked goods, to savory meat dishes, as well as drinks like coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Regarding its health benefits2, it is an antioxidant that has been known to support sugar metabolism and help maintain healthy levels of blood sugar.
3. Black Pepper: One of the most popular spices in the world can generally be found on everyone’s spice rack next to the salt. Pepper can give any dish a quick pick-me-up of flavor. But did you know that pepper is extracted from black pepper fruits and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries? It is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties3
4. Ginger: Just like turmeric and cardamom, ginger is part of the same spice family. It is another spice that is quite common in many Indian dishes. Back in the day, ginger was one of the first spices to be exported to Europe through spice trading where it quickly became a popular addition to candies, tea, and baked goods. In terms of health benefits4, ginger has been known to support digestive health, motion sickness, and nausea.
5. Cayenne Pepper: Also called chili peppers or red hot peppers, they got the name ‘Cayenne Pepper’ because they’re native to the Cayenne region of French Guiana, which is located on the northwest coast of South America. Today, Cayenne pepper is grown throughout the world in places such as Mexico, the United States, and other tropical regions. The spice has been used for centuries in cooking as well as for holistic health benefits because of its naturally occurring capsaicin – which is what gives the peppers their spiciness. Capsaicin is reported to have benefits5 in increasing metabolism by burning fats, relieving topical pain, and reducing insulin spikes in diabetes
1. Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview, 2013 Jan-Jun; 4(1): 3–7
2. Cinnamon: Potential Role in the Prevention of Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes, 2010 May; 4(3): 685–693
3. Black pepper and health claims: a comprehensive treatise, 2013;53(9):875-86. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.571799
4. Biological properties of 6-gingerol: a brief review, 2014 Jul;9(7):1027-30
5. Capsaicin Brings the Heat as a Disease-Fighting Powerhouse, February 14, 2017