Throughout history, spices have been an important part of cooking across various cultures. Asides from the flavour they add to our dishes, many of them have remarkable health benefits.
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Read on to learn about 6 best spices and of course, the health benefits you can gain from them.
Is there anyone who doesn’t know cinnamon? Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices found in many recipes. It is not only used for “spicy” meals, it is a great ingredient to add flavour to sweet foods like baked goods.
Cinnamon has been found to contain cinnamaldehyde. This bioactive substance is responsible for the medicinal properties of cinnamon. It acts as a powerful antioxidant and also helps fight inflammation. Another important medical benefit is its ability to lower blood cholesterol and sugar levels. In diabetic patients, it can significantly lower their blood sugar level by 10 – 29%.
Imagine craving cakes and not feeling too guilty about your intake because you know there’s an ingredient that helps you manage your glucose levels. That’s cinnamon for you!
First of all, let’s take a look at the origin of the word ‘sage’. It originates from the Latin word ‘Salvere’ which directly translates to ‘to save’. Do you see where this is going?
Sage doesn’t directly save your life but it does save your brain. Current research has shown that sage has the potential to improve both brain function and memory. This is especially important for people with Alzheimer’s disease. It also improves the memory function in healthy people of all ages.
Peppermint is widely used in aromatherapy. Its oil has anti-emetic effects. That is, it helps to reduce nausea. Even in women in labour or those that have postoperative nausea as seen after C-section births, peppermint causes a significant decrease in nausea.
Asides from its anti-emetic effect, it also helps to relieve pain in irritable bowel syndrome. It does this by relaxing the smooth muscles in the colon.
One way or the other, we have all used or know someone who uses turmeric. One popular home use is the turmeric mask which is believed to help with acne and pimples.
However, there are more interesting benefits of turmeric as a spice. Turmeric contains an important compound known as curcumin which helps to combat oxidative damage, acts as a highly potent anti-inflammatory agent (with the same effectiveness as some anti-inflammatory drugs) and importantly, helps to improve brain function and memory.
There is no way ginger is going to be left out in this list.
Ginger is a very popular spice that contains many active ingredients which are responsible for its health benefits. One of these benefits is the management of morning sickness, seasickness and chemotherapy-induced nausea – as an antiemetic. Ginger also is a safe natural substance to use for pain and inflammation.
When combined with other natural ingredients like sesame oil, cinnamon and mastic, it has an analgesic effect similar to that of ibuprofen.
Garlic primarily was used for its medicinal effects in ancient history. These effects are due to its inherent compound allicin. Allicin helps to treat illnesses such as the common cold and hypercholesterolemia, a condition where the LDL cholesterol levels are high. It reduces LDL cholesterol levels by about 10 – 15%. Allicin also helps to lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
It’s a great thing that the spices we use to add flavour to our meals are beneficial to us, health-wise. When next you’re going grocery shopping, don’t forget to add these 6 spices to the list.