Spices that Improve Health
Written by Madison Hahn, Dietetics Student
Spices can do more for us than just serve as flavor! Many contain compounds that help to reduce inflammation in the body, boost your immunity, help regulate blood sugar levels, and more! No food is ever a “cure-all”, but if you’re looking for some ways to boost the health content of your food, introducing some new spices might be the way to go for you.
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “Eat the Rainbow”, it certainly doesn’t stop short at turmeric! Curcumin is the component of Turmeric that gives it its yellow color, and is the source of all of its benefits!
Anti-inflammatory – Inflammation can occur in the body as a result of any form of stress, damage, or infection. Fortunately, food sources like Turmeric can decrease these stress levels within your body, alleviating pain and providing you with a clearer mind!
Cognitive function – Omega-3 Fatty Acids are complexes that play a crucial role in brain function. They are commonly found in foods such as fatty fish (salmon, haring, sardines), as well as plant-based sources such as walnuts and chia seeds. Curcumin has been shown to help our bodies absorb these important Omega-3s from plant sources.
Immune function – Turmeric is a good source of Vitamin C, which provides support to the body’s immune cells as they fight to protect the body against infection.
When cooking, it is helpful to combine turmeric with black pepper, berries, or a fat source to increase its absorption. It can be added in a smoothie or used in a creamy soup or curry!
Ginger can be found in the produce aisle as a fresh root, or in powdered form along with the other seasonings.
Alleviating GI complications – Ginger is known to aid in poor digestive symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, acid reflux, and morning sickness. Its properties help to relax the intestine and strengthen the esophageal sphincters, thus keeping acid from being able to travel up the esophagus causing heartburn.
Ginger can be added to tea or smoothies, or used to enhance the flavor of glazes or salad dressings!
Fall is the perfect time of year to incorporate cinnamon into your daily recipes!
Anti-inflammatory – Studies have proven cinnamon to be one of the strongest anti-inflammatory spices out there. Its been known to improve symptoms of gastric inflammation as well as conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Antioxidant – Damage can occur within the body in the form of “free-radicals”. Antioxidant sources such as cinnamon can help aid in fighting this damage in the body caused by stressors.
Lowering blood sugar – Type 2 Diabetes is caused by a raised insulin resistance in the body, and cinnamon’s powerful effects can help reduce insulin resistance within the body, thus helping to maintain lower blood sugar levels.
Cinnamon can be added to teas, used in recipes like soups and chilis, and can serve as a flavorful topping to foods like apples, bananas, or sweet potatoes.