Food is something that seems to be the one thing that connects all of us. The way in which food is prepared can represent an entire culture or even an entire family history. Spices have played a significant role in the way food has been prepared for centuries. Not only do they improve the way that your food tastes; they are also mighty health-boosters! Herbs and spices have been used in medicine for ages. Looong before modern medicine, spices were used for their ability to help people fight infection and aid in promoting health. Spices, such as cardamom, ginger, black pepper, and cumin were used in ancient herbal medicines to treat various types of health issues. Spices can literally heal you from within. For that reason, I wanted to introduce you all to the medicinal properties of spices that you probably use every day. Something that you may have never thought about when sprinkling a little pepper in your morning omelet, or adding turmeric into your fat burning elixir.
Here is a list of some common household herbs and spices have been shown to have some incredible medicinal properties.
- Cinnamon is a great way to add a little sweetness to food without the additional sugar. This powerful spice is great for people who have high blood sugar. It has been shown to be a heart-healthy spice that can reduce high blood cholesterol. Some studies have even suggested that compounds within cinnamon have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and antimicrobial properties.
- Turmeric: The Inflammation Warrior. These powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties in turmeric can be attributed to a small, but mighty, substance known as curcumin. Adding black pepper when consuming turmeric can help enhance these powerful anti-inflammatory benefits (add link to the GoL turmeric gummies?)
- Ginger is helpful for relieving nausea and reducing upset stomach. Some compounds found in ginger can help your body fight off germs and halt the growth of bacteria. I highly recommend some type of ginger tea when you are getting a little sneezy!
- Garlic isn’t only effective for warding off the occasional vampire (lol). In fact, garlic is a nutritional superstar. It is PACKED with vitamins B and C, manganese, selenium, iron, copper, and potassium. It promotes heart health and has some significant antibacterial properties.
- Cayenne contains a substance called capsaicin, which is thought to be the primary benefactor contributing to the health benefits of cayenne. Capsaicin can slightly raise the temperature of your body, which means you’ll burn more calories, which can in turn help boost your metabolism a bit. It has also been shown to reduce the number of pain signals that are sent to your brain, which can reduce your overall experience of pain.
- Black pepper: The king of all spices! A substance in black pepper called piperine helps to increase the potency of turmeric when consumed together. Additionally, piperine helps to ease digestion and is antibacterial in nature. Next time you have a cold, try a teaspoon of honey with freshly crushed black pepper.
- Cumin: The most common, traditional use of cumin has been for indigestion, enhancing your body’s digestion ability and the overall digestion process.
- Nutmeg: Talk about a great way to spice up your (sex) life! Nutmeg is used in many parts of the world as a natural aphrodisiac to improve vigor, vitality, and erotic sensation.
- Paprika: contains elements that help to boost digestion and metabolism. It is also abundant in beta carotene and iron, which helps improve complexion.
- Cocoa contains more antioxidants that most foods. Some of the many benefits of coca include protecting nerves from injury and inflammation, improving cognitive functioning, and improving mood.
- Rosemary not only smells INCREDIBLE, but is also full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which are both known to help boost our immune system. It is also considered a cognitive stimulant, which can help to improve our memory, alertness, and focus.
- Mint: the aroma of mint, especially when in essential oil form, is very calming and can be used as a stress reliever. The adaptogenic properties of mint can help regulate your cortisol levels, which can help build your resilience to stress!!
- Thyme is believed to have anxiety-reducing properties when used in aroma-therapeutic settings. It also contains some antimicrobial properties that make it a serious fighter against a dreadful sore throat.
- Basil: along with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties when consumed, basil can also be used as an essential oil to treat cuts, wounds, and skin infections
- Parsley is high in vitamin C, which promotes production of collagen. Collagen helps promote the structure and vitality of your skin.
- Oregano is an incredible antibacterial agent, containing phytonutrients that help to fight infections. (link GoL oregano oil)
Here are a few things that you should keep in mind when getting the most from the spices that you are using in your food. Spices come fresh, dried, and can also be taken in supplements. When cooking with spices, the heat from the fry or grill can actually decrease the antioxidant powers in the spices. On the other hand, simmering or stewing foods with spices can actually heighten their antioxidant levels. You may see that some spices can also be found in supplement form. One word of caution when purchasing these supplements is that they are not regulated by the FDA, so there is no real way to know exactly what are in those supplements. Make sure you look for all natural organic supplements if you decide to go down that route!
So.....next time you are spicing up that otherwise plain chicken breast, take a second to consider the healing properties that those spices can have within all areas of your body.