Herbs and spices have long been used to add flavor and excitement to food. What’s more, these ancient and sometimes mysterious ingredients are also beneficial to our health. Many spices contain antibacterial and disease-fighting properties including antioxidants, which makes them an invaluable tool for enriching foods and promoting overall health. The best part? You can very easily experience the power of these common, healthy spices at little cost.
For thousands of years and across countless cultures, spices have earned the respect from culinary geniuses, herbalists and natural health advocates. Here are 5 healthy spices that are common to most kitchens – potent and flavorful additions to any healthy lifestyle.
Ginger may not be the best looking tree root around, but this underground gem can be just the answer to an upset stomach, gas, bloating, sore throats and the common cold. Ginger contains the powerful phytochemicals shogaol and zingerone that help to relieve both cough and congestion. This spicy herb can be consumed as tea, grated in stir-fry and soup, or eaten sliced, like candy. The root is even powerful enough to ward off cancer, where in one study whole ginger extract shrunk prostate tumor size by 50%.
Chili peppers are as powerful as they are pretty. One of the most popular benefits of this healthful spice has to do with weight loss. Capsaicin is the ingredient within chili peppers known to increase metabolism, encourage feelings of fullness and facilitate proteins in the break down of fat. Chili peppers also help battle harmful bacteria within stomach cells and may play a significant role of decreasing the risk of stomach ulcers. Found in analgesic creams, capsaicin also eases pain from muscle soreness and arthritis.
Other than resting among natural pain relievers, chili peppers may be beneficial in fighting prostate caner and increasing heart health, as indicated in recent studies.
Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices and is best thought of as a topping for toast, pastries or lattes. However, extracts from the bark of the cinnamon tree have long been used all over the world as medicine. Cinnamon is rich in iron, calcium, manganese and fiber and is thought to help keep sugar cravings away. Studies have found that cinnamon may be effective in reducing inflammation, stabilizing blood sugar and fighting off bacteria. Check out some of the other health benefits of cinnamon.
Also among healthy spices, saffron is a brilliantly colored spice prized for its flavor and medicinal properties that come from dried threads of the Crocus sativus plant. It contains antioxidant chemical compounds that fight disease and promote health. This unassuming spice is also known as a powerful mood elevating spice that reduces depression and improves postmenstrual symptoms. To start using saffron, try implementing the spice in any rice dish or sauces with a tomato base.
If you’re a regular reader at NaturalSociety, you likely know a bit about turmeric. This powerful, health spice has been shown to promote healthy fat loss, help with diabetes, strengthen the heart, and beat numerous cancer types. In one instances, turmeric was shown to reduce tumor size by a whopping 81%.
Healthy Spices and Food Combinations
A variety of spices are thought to be most effective when used in combination with particular foods. Studies have shown that this is the case with rosemary, which mixes well in meat marinades. When boiling, frying, or grilling meats marinated with a rosemary sauce, rosemary has been shown to prevent carcinogenic compounds from forming. This is most likely due to its high antioxidant content.