Variety is the spice of life. Variety of spices is a healthier life. Everyday herbs and spices add not only flavor but significant health benefits.
You don’t have to know the chemistry to know what tastes you like and how spices enhance food. Without them, eating would be much more bland and boring.
Knowing the nutritional intricacies may influence what you use and how much of it. Each spice–and family of spices–has its specialty, and all a delicious joy. Extra incentive to use the following and other spices is their ability to not only maintain healthy systems but to go above and beyond, detoxifying our bodies from the environmental and chemical toxins with which we often come into contact.
The very young, the very old, the sick, and the immunocompromised are most susceptible to toxins all around us but there’s virtually no one who can’t benefit from a dash of this and a pinch of that to help our bodies maintain (or re-gain) health.
Here are ten spices and herbs that you can easily find at your neighborhood market and some insights into all they do for you.
Cloves contain a compound called eugenol that has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, analgesic, and anesthetic properties (let’s just call it a superspice).
The National Institutes of Health has rated hundreds of the most common foods in the North American diet based on their antioxidant properties, called the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity scale (ORAC). Cloves are Number One. This aromatic spice protects cells from oxidative stress, helps digestion, calms a toothache, kills cancer, and wards of mosquitos. Tastes great in pumpkin pie and hot chocolate.
There’s little that a little garlic can’t fix. Its strong taste and smell make Mediterranean dishes delectable but that’s only a bonus to all the other things garlic can do.
It has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer by almost half and combats infections, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart and neurodegenerative disease.
Ginger is another superspice, fourteenth on the ORAC list. A potent anti-inflammatory and antibiotic, ginger is known to aid digestion, kill cancer, and fight colds and flu. Taken as a tea, added to foods, or chewed raw, this spice protects your body from many ills.
Parsley is a vitamin-rich, heart-healthy, collagen-boosting, cancer-fighting, liver-loving powerhouse that also freshens your breath.
It can be eaten raw in a salad, added to soups, stews, and stir fries, or steeped as tea. It also makes for a pretty garnish but that seems a waste of all this herb has to offer.
6. Black Pepper
The piperine in black peppercorn is an antioxidant and in addition to that, it assists cells’ ability to absorb nutrients from other foods. It slows down the process of breaking down nutrients, thereby giving cells more time to use them.
Directly, piperine has various effects on brain chemistry by stimulating the production of neurotransmitters serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. Black pepper also stalls cancer growth and proliferation. Because it is a spicy spice, black pepper can also help with weight loss by burning energy hotter in the body.
7. Red Clover
Not many people think of red clover as a medicinal herb, more as a weed on the lawn. This pretty, fragrant flower contains phytoestrogens–plant chemicals that act like animal estrogen.
Some studies suggest that the flowers of this plant may reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women and others suggest it can protect against post-menopausal osteoporosis.
Rosemary is a savory herb that has been shown to improve memory after inhalation. When taken internally, it stimulates the central nervous system, promoting blood flow.
Studies have shown that rosemary stimulates hair growth when massaged into the scalp and neutralizes food-borne pathogens, preventing food poisoning.
Nutritious with vitamins A and K along with minerals calcium, iron, and manganese, plus beneficial antioxidant phytochemicals, thyme shows a wealth of health benefits: controls blood pressure, cures acne, cures cold, aids digestion, and kills colon and breast cancer cells. It’s a low-growing plant with tiny leaves that you can add to foods for a delicious health boost.
Turmeric is the master anti-inflammatory and antioxidant (number four on the ORAC list, if you’re keeping count). It’s more effective than Prozac to treat depression, protects skin from UVB radiation, prevents cardiovascular disease, regulates blood sugar, and prevents cancer. It has a slightly acidic flavor and you can sprinkle it on just about anything to reap its benefits.
Try some golden milk in which turmeric teams up with ginger and black pepper for a delicious and ridiculously healthy and soothing hot cup of yum.