Those who know me know full well that I cook with a lot of spices—all kinds of spices, spice blends, and not just your typical and popular—I love global spice blends as well as those many of us are familiar with and have in our stash of spices.
Spices are not just for making food more flavorful and adding dimensions of interest for the palate—spices also have well-established health benefits—so I’m giving you some great reasons to ramp up your spices, sprinkle or dust spices on things, like cardamom on cottage cheese, that you wouldn’t typically think of! I’ll make this short and sweet, and if you want more information then, just Google the topic, you’ll be able to dig deeper into this wonderful world of spice health benefits!
The king pin in chili pepper is ‘capsacin’—it’s in these pepper plants, and it’s associated with stopping ulcers (reckon it burns ‘em out!), good for your heat, reduces pain, and for men, helps fight prostate cancer. Dive into the chili peppers and get some heat going!
Oh, how I love cardamom! Like yoga poses that help with toxins in the body, so does cardamom—it’s known as an alternative type medicine for eliminating toxins, and, get this, it’s been connected to anti-tumor action.
Can you believe that the black pepper we so love and that’s so common for us was hard to find and expensive during the spice trading era! It’s great because it’s associated with reducing blood lipids and cholesterol absorption.
Lawsy, I love and use cumin in so many things—both in seed form and ground. And, I keep this spice, and several others, in my freezer to keep it really fresh. Some pilot research is showing that cumin might boost your brainpower and improve memory. Who couldn’t use more of that? An it’s good for your energy and immune system fighting those nasty colds and flu!
Bring out the cinnamon and sprinkle it on everything—from toast to yogurt to fruit! It can help your blood sugar level in a good way, reduce your cholesterol and help keep those arteries from clogging! That’s because cinnamon has these antioxidant compounds—you need to research this one because there’s even research now that’s indicating that ingesting about ½ teaspoon of cinnamon daily can actually reduce risk factors for diabetes and heart disease. Don’t take my word for it, get out there and research for yourself.
There’s this chemical in ginger called ‘gingerol’ and it’s believed to reduce pain and inflammation. There’s also some Thai research that’s associating daily ginger supplements improve attention span and memory in middle-aged women. Now who doesn’t love a good gingersnap cookie, gingerale, freshly grated ginger in recipes!
Oh, this glorious spice—makes a béchamel sauce decadent! There are lots of rich anti-inflammatory compounds in nutmeg, so grate some on what you’re eating and enjoy some extra spice and good living! Oh, yes, nutmeg has been found by Italian researchers to fight cavities because of its antibacterial compounds.
This spice just makes dishes brighter and more beautiful—found in lots of curries, it’s in the same family of spices as ginger. Tumeric can help reduce inflammation and can be good for arthritis for helping with the aches and pains.
What’s in oregano that’s so important—thymol and carvacol—both are antibacterial soldiers that fight infection. And, get this, oregano has four times the antioxidants of blueberries—let’s hear it for oregano! In one teaspoon of oregano there are about 6 micrograms of vitamin K, bone-building, and there’s even more research out there that associates oregano with helping to stave off tummy flu. Oregano can be those warriors that fight off that nasty bacteria.
Who doesn’t love garlic! It’s used in a lot of alternative medicine and with natural remedies. Garlic has these anti-fungal, bacterial and viral fighting effects. So, don’t be shy and stingy with the garlic!
And you thought thyme was just another ‘pretty herb’—au contraire, it’s known for its anti-bacterial properties. Thyme oil is antiseptic. So, use that thyme in everything from soups and stews to meatballs and salads!
Oh, yes, used in so many global foods and dishes—Thai food, Middle Eastern foods and more! Tumeric, which has curcumin, in it, gives off anti-inflammatory effects. It’s even 50 times more powerful, according to Dr. Bharat Aggarwal of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, than vitamins C or E. Again, this is a spice blend that’s worth more research on your part—you’ll probably be buying more curry powder or making your own.
Those glorious rosemary bushes full of fragrant aromas and distinctive in scent! It’s been discovered that marinades with rosemary help with those harmful free radicals and the formation of heterocyclic amines when grilling or sautéing. The chemistry of it is beyond my understanding, but anything that helps with reducing free radicals makes sense to me—I love grilling and sautéing, and if rosemary can help, then bring it on!
Hope you’re turned on now to use more spices and herbs in your cooking and eating in general. Be sure to learn more on your own—this is just a starter helping you realize that there’s more than just flavor that comes from our spice cabinet and herb gardens!