8 Spices To Better Health
Ever feel like spicing up your life? We don’t mean a change of scenery or a new haircut – we mean literally spicing up your life - in the kitchen that is. Here are eight of our favourite spices that will not only add a depth of flavour to your dishes but offer some pretty amazing health benefits too!
First up we have arguably the most versatile spice of them all – cinnamon. Whether it’s a savoury or sweet dish, cinnamon is always a good idea. The ultimate dessert topper, cinnamon adds a TON of sweetness to your meals without any of the added sugar. Not only does it add that sweetness you crave, but it lowers your blood sugar levels at the same time! Kinda cool right? Cinnamaldehyde, the aldehyde that gives cinnamon its signature flavour and smell, has anti diabetic and glucose lowering effects, steadying your blood sugar levels naturally. As a concentrated source of antioxidants, one teaspoon a day goes a long way, giving you a healthy boost. This boost helps slow the aging process, reduce oxidative stress and rid your body of toxins. Cinnamon is also a combater of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. As a great anti-inflammatory, it helps protect neurons in our brains and inhibit proteins connected to these diseases. So overall, cinnamon is good for both our brains and bodies! Beware – there are different types of cinnamon out there, some more beneficial than others. Click here to read all about cinnamon and find out which one you should be adding and which you should be avoiding.
Speaking of anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is best known for its ability to fight inflammation within the body. Turmeric contains curcumin, a compound known for its ability to reduce inflammation in the body as well as the brain. Specifically, it has been shown to help in reducing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and depression. In terms of its effects on the body, it has been proven to reduce pain and swelling with conditions such as arthritis and psoriasis. Curcumin also helps with healing leaky gut, improving digestion and addressing autoimmune issues with inflammatory side effects. An interesting fact about turmeric is that it increases your body’s antioxidant capacity as you consume it! Ultimately, this helps your body absorb as many nutrients and goodness as it can, reducing your oxidative stress, leading to a healthier you. Turmeric is also known for its anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, making it a great immunity booster! These properties help protect against cancer, development of tumours and improve heart health. Fun Fact: If you consume turmeric with black pepper, you increase your bioavailability (absorption rate) up to 2000%! Keep reading as we’ll get into the other health benefits of black pepper a little further down this list. Our Turmeric Latte is a great way to get your dose in daily.
Next, we’ve got our trusty ginger, used for thousands of years to treat upset stomachs everywhere - and we don’t see that stopping anytime soon. Studies show that raw ginger reduces pregnancy nausea, severe motion sickness and can sometimes prevent the onset of these symptoms all together. Much like our friend turmeric, ginger is an anti-inflammatory which is why it is soothing to the gut. Ginger is also known to prevent and relieve menstrual cramps as well as stomach ulcers. Did we mention it also helps relieve flu symptoms? There is a nice boost of B6 and vitamin c from ginger, making it essential for supporting your immune system. It really is the one stop shop for a happy gut, but why? Raw ginger is high in potassium, copper, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus and iron. With that extensive resume, it is easier to get substantial amounts of vitamins from ginger (vs the other guys) especially since the root holds the most bioavailable source of these minerals.
- Chilli Powder
Now we love spice as much as the next person, but who knew that it did anything for us besides setting our mouths on fire from time to time? Let’s start by telling you that chilli powder has more vitamin c than an entire orange. Yup, it’s true, chilli powder can provide up to 7x the vitamin c compared to an orange! Another benefit chili powder provides is from something within it called capsaicin. It acts as a natural pain reliever by reducing inflammation, specifically in the muscles, joints and lower back. How might you ask? Well, capsaicin binds itself to nerve endings, reducing the number of pain signals sent to your brain. This results in your body not registering it as pain, or at least not as bad - reducing the feeling of pain. Fun fact, chili can also help with ulcers! Capsaicin reduces excess stomach acid, restricts ulcer growing bacteria (known as Helicobacter Pylori), and increases the blood flow. Trying to ease into spice? Try our Chocolate Covered Almonds with Chili!
Like most spices on this list, nutmeg is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants (as you might know from previous blog posts) fight free radicals within our bodies. Elevated levels of free radicals lead to oxidative stress which could potentially lead to chronic conditions such as heart and neurodegenerative diseases. Luckily for us, nutmeg is high in essential oils, plant pigments and phenolic compounds which help stop damage being done to our cells. Again, like the others on this list, nutmeg has anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in preventing certain inflammatory enzymes from being produced. Finally, antibacterial properties within nutmeg help keep our gums from inflammation and bacteria that cause cavities! Our Chocolate Latte with Ashwagandha contains nutmeg and the following spice!
Cardamom is another tummy saver, known for its ability to regulate your digestive system, prevent gas build up and reduce uncomfortable bloating. The methanolic extract within cardamom is another powerful antioxidant and is known to relieve stomach pains such as cramps, flatulence and ulcers. Another thing cardamom fights is bad breath! The cineole in cardamom is a strong antiseptic that fights the germs that lead to bad breath. In fact, many gum companies add cardamom to their recipes for this exact reason! The spice is also known to open up the bronchi and bronchioles, increasing the airflow into the lungs, making it a great natural addition for those suffering with asthma.
Saffron, also known as the “sunshine spice” isn’t lighting up this list just because of its bright colour! Studies show that saffron can in fact increase your mood, helping to treat mild to moderate symptoms of depression. Like some other spices on this list, saffron has shown great ability to help with those suffering from chronic illnesses. An antioxidant within saffron called crocin also helps make damaged cells more receptive to therapies such as chemotherapy. Saffron has also been known to help with a vast array of symptoms from PMS physically, both physically and emotionally. It treats irritability, headaches, cravings and abdominal pains. In fact, just the smell, for as little as 20 minutes, has been proved to help ease PMS symptoms and lower your cortisol levels. Our organic saffron is a great option to add into your diet not only for its physical benefits but also its psychological ones too!
- Black Pepper
A universally used spice that is used daily all over the world, black pepper is helping your body more than you know! Firstly, when you add pepper to your meals you aren’t just adding flavour, you are helping your body absorb more nutrients into your bloodstream. This antioxidant helps fight inflammation, improve your memory, and aid digestion. Hydrochloric acid is stimulated when you consume black pepper, and its carminative properties help to defuse discomfort and gas buildup in the intestines, making for a happy gut. Piperine, the component that helps fight inflammation and increase bioavailability, is what helps lower your risk of chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease and neurological diseases. All these active compounds have a role in increasing your white blood cells which are used to fight against bacteria and viruses, helping to keep a strong immune system.
Not only will your taste buds thank you for spicing up your life – your body will too!
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