The Health Benefits of Spices

We all know how beneficial food can be to our health, but you might not know that spices have great healing properties, too. Spices are a great way to add flavor to food and reduce sodium. Below is a list of just a few spices with amazing benefits!

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Turmeric Powder

A member of the ginger family, now cultivated widely in India, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, turmeric is used throughout southern Asia. Its flavor is peppery, warm and bitter while its fragrance is mild yet slightly reminiscent of ginger, to which it is related. Although available fresh, the rhizome is most often sold dried and ground to a powder. It adds a warm, mild aroma and distinctive deep yellow-orange color to foods. It has been long been used in both the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine for healing and as a condiment.

Nutritional Profile: Turmeric is an excellent source of both iron and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, and potassium.

Holistic benefits: Turmeric is the wonder of all wonders – a heating spice for the body, turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is a strong antioxidant. Every teaspoon of it has medicinal value.

 

Coriander Powder

The use of coriander can be traced back to 5,000 BC, making it one of the world’s oldest spices. It is native to the Mediterranean and has been known in Asian countries for thousands of years. Coriander was even cultivated in ancient Egypt and was used as a spice in both Greek and Roman cultures. The early physicians, including Hippocrates, used coriander for its medicinal properties, including as an aromatic stimulant.

Nutritional Profile: Coriander seeds contain an unusual array of phytonutrients. They are a very good source of dietary fiber and a good source of iron, magnesium and manganese.

Holistic benefits: Coriander is known to be a powerful aid to digestion, has anti-bacterial properties and helps to prevent infection in wounds as well as aids in combating allergies.

 

Red Chili Powder

Chili peppers are members of the capsicum family and they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. There are over two hundred different types of chilies grown in all parts of the tropics. Indigenous to central and South America and the West Indies, they are cultivated in India, Mexico, China, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand. Chilies have little aroma but vary in taste from mild to fiery hot. Chili peppers are usually red or green in color. Red chili, Cayenne, habañero, chipotle, jalapeño, anaheim and ancho are just some of the popular varieties available.

Nutritional Profile: Red chili peppers contain beta-carotene, are a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and dietary fiber. They are also a good source of iron and potassium.

Holistic benefits: Red chili aids is weight loss, fights inflammation in the body and boosts the body’s immunity to fight diseases.

 

Cumin Seeds

Originally from the Nile Valley, cumin was commonly used as a culinary spice in ancient Egypt. These seeds were highly honored as a culinary seasoning in both ancient Greek and Roman kitchens. Cumin’s popularity was partly due to the fact that its peppery flavor and both its medicinal and cosmetic properties were renown.

Nutritional Profile: Cumin seeds are a very good source of iron and a good source of manganese.

Holistic benefits: Cumin is a cooling spice. It carries a reputation as the “seeds of good digestion”. They are known to help flush toxins out of the body and provide iron for energy and immune function.

 

Mustard Seeds

Mustard seeds can be traced to different areas of Europe and Asia with the white variety originating in the eastern Mediterranean regions, the brown from the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, and the black from the Middle East. Mustard seeds are mentioned in ancient Sanskrit writings dating back about 5,000 years ago. The physicians of both civilizations, including the father of medicine Hippocrates, used mustard seed medicinally. Mustard continues to be one of the most popular spices in the world today.

Nutritional Profile: Mustard seeds are a very good source of selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, dietary fiber, iron, calcium, protein, niacin and zinc.

Holistic benefits: Mustard not only stimulates the appetite but also has digestive, laxative, antiseptic, and circulative stimulant properties. It is also known for its anti-inflammation properties.

 

Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds are sweetish in taste, and work as fabulous flavor-enhancers along with all their healing properties. Fennel’s aromatic taste is unique, strikingly reminiscent of licorice and anise, so much so that fennel is often mistakenly referred to as anise.

Nutritional Profile: Fennel is an excellent source of vitamin C. It is also a very good of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, folate, and molybdenum. In addition, fennel is a good source of niacin as well as the minerals phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper.

Holistic benefits: Fennel seeds are a cooling spice (cools the body) and have a unique combination of nutrients that make it a powerful antioxidant. It is also believed to help cure stomach complaints and is extremely good for digestion. In India, eating a few fennel seeds after a meal is a common practice.

 

Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been known from remote antiquity. It was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BC. It was so highly prized among ancient nations that it was regarded as a gift fit for monarchs and even for a god.  Cinnamon is actually one of the most powerful healing spices, and has become most famous for its ability to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. As little as 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon a day could cut triglycerides and total cholesterol levels by 12 to 30 percent. Cinnamon can even help prevent blood clots, making it especially heart smart.

Nutritional Profile: Cinnamon is a good source of dietary fiber, as well as calcium and iron.

Holistic benefits: Cinnamon has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s rich in antioxidants called polyphenols.

 

Cloves

Archeologists have found cloves in a ceramic vessel in Syria, with evidence that dates the find to within a few years of 1721 BC.  In the third century BC, a Chinese leader in the Han Dynasty required those who addressed him to chew cloves to freshen their breath.  Cloves were traded by Muslim sailors and merchants during the Middle Ages in the profitable Indian Ocean trade.

Nutritional Profile: Cloves are a good source of potassium, dietary fiber, magnesium, calcium, and iron.

Holistic benefits: Cloves contain an anti-inflammatory chemical called eugenol. In recent studies, this chemical inhibited COX-2, a protein that spurs inflammation. Cloves also ranked very high in antioxidant properties. The combination of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties spells heaps of health benefits, from boosting protection from heart disease to helping stave off cancer, as well as slowing the cartilage and bone damage caused by arthritis. Compounds in cloves, like those found in cinnamon, also appear to improve insulin function.

 

Garlic

Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek and chive. With a history of human use of over 7,000 years, garlic is native to central Asiaand has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was known to Ancient Egyptians, and has been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

Nutritional Profile: Garlic is a good source of potassium and vitamin C.

Holistic benefits: When eaten daily, garlic can help lower heart disease risk by as much as 76 percent: it moderately reduces cholesterol levels, thins the blood and thereby staves off dangerous clots, and acts as an antioxidant. Garlic’s sulfur compounds also appear to ward off cancer, especially stomach and colorectal cancer. The compounds flush out carcinogens before they can damage cell DNA, and they force cancer cells that do develop to self-destruct. Strongly antibacterial and antifungal, garlic can help with yeast infections, some sinus infections, and the common cold. It can even repel ticks.

 

Ginger

This root has played a major part in Asian and Indian medicine for centuries. Ginger is indigenous to southeast Asia. The trading efforts of the Roman Empire, which imported all manner of spices from India, brought ginger to Ancient Rome, whence it spread across Europe.

Nutritional Profile: A good source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and dietary fiber.

Holistic benefits: Ginger has the ability to combat inflammation, reduce pain and swelling in people with arthritis. It may work against migraines by blocking inflammatory substances called prostaglandins. And because it reduces inflammation, it may also play a role in preventing and slowing the growth of cancer. Ginger’s still good for the tummy, too. It works in the digestive tract, boosting digestive juices and neutralizing acids as well as reducing intestinal contractions. It’s proven quite effective against nausea.

 

 

 

 

 

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