Dash of Spices for a Healthy You!
Healthy Living

Dash of Spices for a Healthy You!

Mehvish Hamdare profile Authored by Mehvish Hamdare on 2 Sep 2014 - 18:14.

The first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the word spices and herbs is, the flavors they emanate changing the bland food into a delicious dish. But did you know they also benefit your health as much as they please your taste buds? Your spice rack is a nutritional wonderland and it's high time you took advantage of its many medicinal benefits.

The differentiation between the herbs and spices is that herbs are extracts from plants and plant parts, while spices often come from the seeds, berries, bark, or roots of plants.

The health benefits of spices are too extensive to list down. From being loaded with anti-oxidants, anti-bacterial and antiviral properties, they are also high in trace minerals and B vitamins. They help to keep your heart healthy, reduce inflammation, boost your immune system due to their ability to fight infection, provide possible protection against cancer and diabetes, detoxify the body, increase digestion and aid in weight loss, cure colds, prevent buildup in arteries, relieve congestion, balance hormones and many more benefits to name.

Here’s a list of health benefits of these humble ingredients used in our kitchens on a daily basis:

Cinnamon (Dalchini)

A study published by American Diabetes Association demonstrates that intake of 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon per day reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon has got antibacterial, anti-clots and anti-inflammatory properties. It is high in antioxidants and is one of the good sources for iron, calcium and manganese. It also helps to stimulate digestion and appetite.

Cumin (Jeera)

Cumin seeds have been shown to have anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and chemo preventive properties. Having cumin seeds is one of the known remedy to relieve you from digestive problems, reduce your chances of anemia as they are highin iron content and also helps to alleviate common cold. Cumin also aids in lactation.

Turmeric (Haldi)

According to a review in Archives of Physiology and Biochemistrycurcumin the main bioactive compound found in turmeric has been shown to have the potential to treat a wide variety of inflammatory diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, psoriasis, skin diseases, has anti-diabetic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and hepato protective properties.

Cardamom (Elaichi)

Cardamom consumption aids in nausea, reduce spasms helps to ease flatulence and indigestion, aids in the elimination of toxins through your skin and controls bad breath problem.

Oregano

A USDA study found that, gram for gram, oregano has the highest antioxidant activity of 27 fresh culinary herbs. Oregano has antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-biotic properties and help in fighting against infections. Consumption helps in treating respiratory illnesses; and calms indigestion.

Basil

Basil is high in antioxidants and oils in basil have been shown to lower blood glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels according to studies published in "Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry." and Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture respectively.

Cloves (Laung)

Clove for long has been widely used in treating tooth problems since it contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Clove oil is beneficial remedy for chest pains, fever, digestive problems, and cough. It acts as a painkiller and alleviates diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.

Black pepper (kali miri)

Black pepperis one of the spices that you see on a daily basis be it at your dining table at home or in restaurant. Black pepper is important as it improves digestion and promotes intestinal health. It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties thereby preventing infections.

Bay leaves(Tez Patta)

Bay leaf is used as a natural remedy in a wide range of digestive disorders, balances blood sugar and may help reduce high blood pressure.Bay leaf oil possesses antifungal and anti-bacterial properties. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition in 2009researched into the effects of bay leaves on blood sugar and found that participants who received 1 g to 3 g of ground bay leaf per day experienced a drop in blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides levels.

Ginger (Adrak)

Ginger is one of the most noted remedy for bloating, stomach upset, nausea and morning sickness associated with pregnancy. It exhibits anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is useful in treating conditions like cold and flu, sore throat, motion sickness and arthritis to name a few.A research article published in the British Journal of Nutrition demonstrated the in vitro and in vivo anticancer activity of ginger, suggesting it may be effective in the management of prostate cancer.

Fenugreek (Methi)

Fenugreek has a historical use as a way to increase breast milk production and is considered as a potent substance that eases the pain of menstruation, aids in digestion. It also contains a wide variety of beneficial nutrients like iron, magnesium, and manganese. Studies have found that it helps to lower cholesterol, reduces cardiovascular risk, and helps to alleviate type 2 diabetes. Studies done by Indian researchers revealed that fenugreek added to type I diabetic patients diets helped to drop urinary sugar level by 54 percent. 

Thyme

Thyme was found to have a strong anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial action and is high in antioxidants, hence, beneficial in treating bacterial respiratory infections. It relaxes the muscle tissue of the gastrointestinal tract, stimulates immune system and prevents aging.

Mace

Mace, since long has been used to treat digestive problems like nausea, gas, diarrhea and stomach spasms. In a report published in the Spring 2006 issue of the "Journal of Medicinal Food", mace was shown to exert significant anti-depressant effects. 

While there are many more spices to be mentioned, only some have been mentioned here. Spices should be stored in airtight containers in a cool, dark place.

Caveat

Though the health benefits of spices are unquestionable, they should be used in moderation as part of a healthy diet, and not excessively, as it can have a reverse effect on your health if overused.

So open up you spice box and enjoy the health benefits!

 

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*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.