By Scott M. Schreiber, DC, DACRB, LN
Spices not only taste good, but contain many vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that can improve your health and prevent disease! Many times, these spices are viewed as a flavor enhancer, but they also pack a nutritional punch! You will be surprised how good they actually are! Here are my top ten healthiest spices!
Cinnamon may help fight inflammation, is an antioxidant and may fight off bacteria. Cinnamon also reduces blood sugar and may help those that have diabetes. Cinnamon is also sweet and is recommended over other artificial sweeteners. It can be added to almost anything!
Turmeric may be my favorite spice. It is an antioxidant and is highly anti-inflammatory. So much so, that studies have shown that it is just as effective or better than over-the-counter medications. To get this effect, you have to consume a lot! Capsules are the easiest and most effective. There is some misinformation that you need to take black pepper with it to get the best absorption. If you have a poor-quality turmeric then yes, but high quality is easily absorbed. Additionally, there has been some evidence that turmeric may help with depression.
Cayenne Pepper contains capsaicin, which makes them hot. It has been shown to boost metabolism and keep blood vessels healthy. It may also stimulate brain chemicals, reducing hunger. It is used topically to reduce pain very effectively!
Ginger contains gingerols, which are anti-inflammatory and help relax the stomach. Studies have shown ginger can relieve morning sickness as well as nausea after surgery or chemotherapy. It is also an antioxidant, which may help prevent cancer.
Garlic has a compound called allicin. It has been shown to lower your risk of heart disease. It has also been shown to decrease cholesterol and high blood pressure. In addition, it is great for fighting off bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeast! To get these benefits, you have to eat it raw, as cooking damages the active ingredient.
Peppermint is a hybrid of Watermint and Spearmint. Peppermint has been shown to improve mood and relieve an upset stomach. It has also been shown to calm pain with irritable bowel syndrome. There has been some evidence that it may help with skin conditions a, headaches, cold and flu. Interestingly, smelling it may have just as much effect as ingesting it.
Oregano contains Vitamin E and K, as well as calcium, iron, manganese, and fiber. Oregano contains a ton of antioxidants which can help prevent cancer. It also contains many phytochemicals, including thymol and carvacrol, which may prevent infections. Oregano oil is very potent and to use it, you must mix it with another oil in a 1:3 ratio. Dried oregano may be used as well, however needs to be stored in a clean, dry, glass container.
Rosemary is a member of the mint family. It can improve concentration and boost mood. It contains a lot of calcium, vitamin B6 and iron. It is also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. There are even some studies that show that it may also help with immunity and improve circulation.
This Spice is in many pumpkin spice mixes. Cardamom originates in India and has been compared to mint in taste. It can relieve an upset stomach and is high in magnesium and zinc. Animal studies that show cardamom may help fight cancer. It is anti-inflammatory and may help protect against chronic diseases. It may treat cavities and may help with treating infections.
Cumin is used in many Indian dishes and is naturally high in iron. It also may help with weight loss. Other studies show that it has been shown to decrease cholesterol and diabetes. It has also been shown to help with irritable bowel syndrome, stress and memory loss.