Health Benefits Of Spices
- Fight stress, free radical damage, and aging
- Protect against inflammatory diseases, obesity, and neurodegenerative issues
- Counter viral, bacterial, and fungal attacks
- Improve insulin sensitivity and glucose control
- Offer dental and oral healthcare benefits
- Lower blood pressure
Spices can be a great natural, all-round healthcare remedy. Try cinnamon and turmeric as armor against inflammation and use black pepper, chill pepper, and turmeric to boost immunity and fight infections. Ginger can ease nausea and treat a bout of morning sickness. Cinnamon can improve insulin sensitivity. Exotic spices like fenugreek seeds have the ability to calm a fever and soothe irritated skin. So go on, give them a go – the medicinal powers of your spice jars are waiting to be tapped!
Spices do more than add a dash of heat or flavor to your meals. Folk remedies and traditional medicine like ayurveda, naturopathy, and herbal medicine have long used these kitchen staples to treat ailments, boost immunity, and maintain general health. Just open your mind and your larder to the possibilities and you could find natural cures to many health niggles right in your own home! Spices can:
1. Fight Stress, Free Radical Damage, And Aging
Stress, whether it is mental and emotional stress or physical stress from processed foods or exposure to toxins in the environment, can cause what’s known as free radical damage. It is also believed to play a major part in the aging of your body. The abundant antioxidants, including vitamins like beta-carotene and vitamin C, found in chili peppers, clove, and black and Indian long pepper can counter this effect by acting against free radical damage. Investigations into the anticancer effects of such antioxidants are also proving promising though much research remains to be done.
Spices To Stock Up On: Turmeric, ginger, black pepper, Indian long pepper, fenugreek seeds
How They Help
- Turmeric: The curcumin in turmeric modulates and increases levels of antioxidant glutathione that can help prevent damage to your body’s cells. Its antioxidant properties, comparable to that of vitamins like beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, have also earned it a place as a potential natural anticarcinogenic.
- Ginger: Ginger has antioxidant properties that can control aging and fight free radical damage linked to neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease, aging, and even cancer.
- Black Pepper and Indian Long Pepper: A herb mixture containing black pepper, Indian long pepper, and ginger may help protect against free radical-linked oxidative damage to the body. Animal studies back this up, though wider studies on humans will need to be done.
- Fenugreek Seeds: They are antioxidant-rich and can help slow aging. Counter oxidative damage from free radicals by incorporating this spice into meals or snacks.
2. Protect Against Inflammatory Diseases, Obesity, And Neurodegenerative Issues
Inflammation is linked to a host of health problems like neurodegenerative diseases, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and even certain heart problems.
Spices To Stock Up On: Turmeric, chili peppers, ginger, cinnamon
How They Help
- Turmeric: Give yourself an immunity boost with the anti-inflammatory action of turmeric. In one small study, it even outperformed a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug when used on patients with rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory joint condition. The curcumin in turmeric is responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties and can help suppress and inhibit inflammatory pathways.
- Chili Peppers: You could tap the anti-inflammatory action of the capsaicin in a chili pepper to battle inflammatory diseases. So if you’re looking at alternative ways to ward off heart disease, obesity, or other diseases where inflammation plays a role, reach for that chili pepper. Researchers are even exploring its potential in battling certain cancers like that of the prostate.
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon is packed with anti-inflammatory compounds like quercetin. Which is why this warm, sweet spice can fight inflammation and neurological disorders like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease that have an association with inflammatory processes in the body.
- Ginger: If you suffer from inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or obesity, you could benefit from having ginger. The spice has broad anti-inflammatory actions against a range of such conditions.
3. Counter Viral, Bacterial, And Fungal Attacks
Taking the right spices can help ward off illness and fight viral, fungal, and bacterial infections. The spices either boost your immunity and strengthen your own body’s ability to fight infection or use their antibacterial and antiviral effects to protect you from infection.
Spices To Stock Up On: Cloves, chili peppers, black pepper
How They Help
- Cloves: The high antioxidant content of cloves coupled with the antibacterial and antiviral properties of the eugenol, the dominant component in it, can add a layer of protection against infections. Ayurveda has long used broths containing spices like cloves to ease congestion when you have a cold or cough. But arguably one of the most exciting things about clove today is its possible use against antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Antibiotic resistance means that conventional antibiotics used to battle bacterial infections are no longer effective because the microbes have built up a resistance to them. Clove, however, has eugenol and this anti-inflammatory chemical can battle such bacteria.
- Chili Pepper: Chili peppers are an exciting way to get antioxidants like beta-carotene needed for generating vitamin A and vitamin C. Beta-carotene boosts immunity and helps protect against free radical damage as well as several diseases, including metabolic syndrome and heart disease. They are also packed with vitamin C, an antioxidant that fights free radical damage, boosts immunity, counters the effects of aging, and more.
- Black Pepper: Black long pepper is used as a natural remedy against chronic bronchitis, diarrhea, cough, stomach ache, respiratory infections, and asthma. This is thanks to its immune-boosting properties and ability to limit the growth of several fungi and bacteria.
4. Boost Digestion And Fight Gastrointestinal Infections
Spices help your digestive system by stimulating your appetite, aiding digestion, and preventing gas buildup. Some spices can even protect you from gastrointestinal infection.
Spices To Stock Up On: Fenugreek seeds, black pepper, cloves, ginger, cardamom
How They Help
- Fenugreek Seeds: These seeds stimulate spleen and liver function, helping to get your appetite and digestion going. They are also a natural diuretic and can cut bloating from water retention. In ayurveda, an infusion of roasted fenugreek seeds is used to treat dysentery.
- Black Pepper: It helps boost your appetite and is a good addition to your appetizers and soups or salads. What’s more, it comes handy if you have a gas problem or face indigestion or discomfort after meals. Black pepper also improves gastrointestinal function.
- Cloves: Cloves get your gastric juices flowing, helping you digest your food better. Which means less indigestion and pressure on your stomach, so you aren’t troubled by a gas problem.
- Ginger: Ginger can fight bacteria, including Escherichia Coli and Salmonella typhi, two common microbes that cause digestive illnesses like diarrhea and typhoid fever.
- Cardamom: Make the most of the antimicrobial activity of cardamon as unani medicine has done for generations. It can help your body ward off attacks by bacteria like the Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus that wreak havoc on your gut and cause a host of gastrointestinal problems.
5. Improve Insulin Sensitivity And Glucose Control
Spices can help you manage your blood glucose levels better so you don’t have the characteristic crashes and dips that can be dangerous for diabetics. Even if you aren’t diabetic, you could see better glucose regulation with spices. Just remember this isn’t a substitute for your doctor’s advice and medication. Think of it as an add-on. And do keep your doctor informed of the alternative treatment you’re trying.
Spices To Stock Up On: Cinnamon, fenugreek seeds
How They Help
- Cinnamon: Use this sweet spice to keep your blood sugar levels regulated properly and your diabetes in control. It could even help prevent metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes according to some researchers.
- Fenugreek Seeds: If you have type 2 diabetes, taking fenugreek seed extract every day can help keep blood sugar in check and may lower insulin resistance.
6. Heal Wounds And Soothe Irritated And Dry Skin
If you’re after softer and more supple skin or trying to soothe irritated skin, spices can come to the rescue! They can also help a skin wound heal better and faster.
Spices To Stock Up On: Fenugreek seed, turmeric
How They Help
- Fenugreek Seeds: Moisturize and soften your skin with fenugreek seed oil, a natural emollient. Just be sure to add it to a carrier oil first. If your skin is irritated or if you have acne, this blend can soothe the skin and reduce the formation of pimples due to the salicylic acid it contains. The seeds can also be ground up to make a paste that cleanses and soothes skin.
- Turmeric: Topical application of turmeric powder paste or creams containing its active component curcumin can help heal wounds better.
7. Offer Dental And Oral Healthcare Benefits
Fight dental problems and oral bacteria with clove and clove oil.
Spices To Stock Up On: Cloves
How They Help
- Cloves: Due to its antibacterial action against oral bacteria, clove oil is used in products like dental creams and toothpastes as well as oils to protect against dental caries and periodontal disease. It also has antiseptic and analgesic properties, helping soothe the pain associated with inflammation and infection. It can also ease gum disease (gingivitis) and do away with the associated bad breath. Simply mix with a carrier oil and apply as a topical treatment.
8. Cut Down Cholesterol Levels
Many spices are antihyperlipidemic. Which means they can help lower levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and “bad” low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
Spices To Stock Up On: Cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, fenugreek seeds, chili peppers, cardamom
How They Help
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon may help lower triglyceride, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels in those with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It can also help if you have high cholesterol levels or hyperlipidemia and boost fat metabolism.
- Turmeric: Lower your triglyceride and total cholesterol levels and ward off atherosclerosis with turmeric. Thanks to its curcumin content, it has lipid-lowering properties that have been demonstrated in animal and small-scale human studies. This can’t replace your lipid-lowering drugs just yet but could help ease your problem.
- Ginger: Ginger’s antidyslipidemic properties combined with its antioxidant activity make it great for your cardiovascular health. It may also help lower hepatic triglyceride levels.
- Fenugreek Seeds: If you have high cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia, fenugreek seeds can help treat the problem. Ayurveda recommends a dosage of 10 to 20 gm of fenugreek seed powder daily to help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
- Chili Peppers: Chili peppers have capsinoids that are said to rev up fat metabolism. Animal studies have shown that the spice could even help you knock off some of that stubborn abdominal fat.
- Cardamom: Consuming as little as 3 gm of powdered cardamom every day has been found to help improve the lipid profile of people with heart disease. It is a known antihyperlipidemic that can boost metabolism, bring down cholesterol levels, and help burn fat.
9. Lower Blood Pressure
If it a high blood pressure problem you’re dealing with, spices can dilate your blood vessels, easing this pressure.
Spices To Stock Up On: Cinnamon, cardamom
How They Help
- Cinnamon: Cinnamon can help lower your blood pressure thanks to the cinnamaldehyde in it that helps dilate blood vessels. This in turn lowers blood pressure.
- Cardamom: Because it is a diuretic, the spice can have positive effects on your blood pressure, bringing levels down in those with a high blood pressure problem. It does this by flushing out excess fluids from your system in the form of urine, reducing the quantity of fluid coursing through your blood vessels and relieving the pressure.
10. Other Compelling Health Benefits: From Fertility And Lactation To Fever Remedies
- Cinnamon For Female Fertility: Progesterone levels play an important role in female fertility and pregnancy. Women can use cinnamon to help balance sex hormone levels, boosting levels of progesterone relative to testosterone.
- Fenugreek Seeds To Boost Milk Production When Nursing: Lactating mothers can benefit from having fenugreek seeds. If insufficient milk supply is a problem, this may be an easy way to help yourself. While mainstream studies are limited, it is a known galactagogue, a herb that boosts milk production, in traditional medicine.
- Fenugreek Seeds As A Fever Remedy: Fenugreek seeds are also a natural treatment for fevers in traditional medicine from China and India.
- Ginger To Combat Motion Sickness, Morning Sickness, And Nausea: Fight motion sickness, nausea, morning sickness, and dizziness with ginger. 6-gingerol, which gives ginger its unique taste, is thought to be responsible for this property. It has been found to help food move through the stomach and gut.
- Ginger Against Migraines And Cluster Headaches: If you have a migraine or cluster headache problem and don’t want to constantly pop migraine medication, ginger powder can work as a natural alternative. Research has found it can act as quickly as within two hours of consumption.
- Blood Cleansing Effects Of Turmeric: Turmeric can help cleanse the blood in those dealing with inflammation in the liver or kidney.
Stir It In: How To Use These Healthy Spices In Your Food
Not all these spices may be familiar to you, but each brings their own unique flavor to the palate. Use them to infuse another layer of deliciousness to your meals even as you benefit from the positive effects they have on your health!
Cinnamon: Cinnamon works a treat in savory meals as well as desserts. You could even sprinkle cinnamon powder over your coffee for a hit of spice that’s good for your health.
Cardamom: Remove the seeds of the cardamom pod and powder them down to add to your meals or to a drink of tea or coffee. It is delicious in traditional rice and curry meals from the Middle East and South Asia, as well as in desserts from these parts.
Chili Peppers: Certain cuisines like Mexican or Indian lend themselves to a generous use of chili peppers. But you could also turn up the heat on a regular casserole, soup, or pasta by adding some chili peppers. Roast them in the oven for a smoky flavor that’s hard to beat or blend some into homemade salad dressings or mayonnaise.
Clove: You could take the easy route and just chew on some cloves after meals to get both oral and digestive benefits. Alternatively, add cloves for some heat to your main meals. Powder it in if you can’t cope with the whole spice. Ayurveda recommends using it in warming broths.
Pepper: Pepper may already be a part of your regular meals and shouldn’t present a challenge. Try switching to fresh cracked black pepper or Indian long pepper instead of mass-manufactured pepper powder. If you find the spice too much to take, add it to creamier foods that can offset the heat – like scrambled eggs or a creamy pasta.
Ginger: Ginger is integral to cooking in parts of the world like Southeast Asia and South Asia. Grate ginger into your soups and stews or casseroles. Add it to stir fries or incorporate into desserts like steamed pudding or cake for a spicy note. Better yet, squeeze some ginger juice into your vegetable or fruit juice and drink up your ginger without much fuss. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, add ginger to your Chai tea.
Turmeric: Simply add a pinch of turmeric to your soups, stews, or stir-fry. Or cook up a curry to allow this spice to really shine. If you prefer, you could drink a glass of “golden milk,” made by warming through milk with a little turmeric.
Fenugreek Seeds: This spice is absolutely worth the trip to the specialty store or Asian grocer. You could use fenugreek seeds in tempering for curries. Alternatively, have them the way they are consumed in ayurveda – as a gruel with milk and sugar. You could also make a herb tea by steeping the seeds in water. For digestive benefits, soak rinsed seeds in water and drink this water or blend up the seeds with water and drink this mix.