Not only do spices add flavour complexity, colour, and aromas to food, they also offer a lot of health benefits.
Spices are used in cooking to add flavours, colours, and aromas to food. But apart from their culinary uses, they also have medicinal uses and many have been used for centuries for their therapeutic properties. Here are just a few common spices which not only make your food more delicious, but may improve your health too.
It used to be confined to curries, but nowadays you’ll find it in everything from lattes to tea. It’s health properties are all thanks to curcumin, a potent antioxidant. It certainly deserves its superfood status if you look at this scientific study published in the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology journal which says says: “Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illnesses.”
Cinnamon is made from the bark of the cinnamon tree. It can help with inflammation, and studies have shown that it can help lower blood sugar in diabetics. It’s a very versatile spice, as its popular in sweet and savoury dishes.
The most commonly used spice is not without its own benefits. Piperine, the major active compound in pepper has anti inflammatory, antioxidant and antiallergic powers. And it can also help your body absorb certain nutrients better. For example, curcumin from turmeric is absorbed better when taken with piperine.
Paprika is made from dried capsicum peppers. It’s rich in several antioxidants, and some vitamins. Just one tablespoon can give you a fifth of your vitamin A needs for the day. Add it to soups, stews, and season meat with it.
Ginger is known to be good for reducing nausea and relieving indigestion. Add it to stir frys, smoothies, or simply chop up fresh ginger to make a ginger tea.
These are only a few of the spices we commonly use for cooking, there are dozens of others which also have incredible health benefits. Many spices are available in supplement form, but you can get more than enough benefits (at a fraction of the price!) just by cooking with them. So, don’t be afraid to stock up your spice rack and get experimenting!