Forget everything you know about herbs and spices. That is unless you know how they can benefit your health. Not only are herbs and spices great for enhancing the flavour of your food as well as keeping your meals interesting, but certain herbs and spices can also actually make your meals more nutritious and boost multiple aspects of your health.
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Although a lot of people have the misconception that herbs and spices add a whole bunch of calories and preservatives to your meal without any beneficial nutritional value, you’d be missing out on all the benefits that we’ll be going through today.
When preparing your meat, salads or any dish that needs a little bit of flavour and garnish, selecting certain herbs and spices is crucial in determining the flavour out the nutritional outcome of the meal. With that being said, here are a select few herbs and spices that are not only tasty but are also good for boosting your health.
Turmeric powder contains a substance called curcumin, one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory compounds you can find in food. Not only is turmeric delicious in its spice, but its medicinal properties is also one of the reasons why most people consume it.
Turmeric powder is known to prevent chronic disease as well as improving brain functioning. Studies have shown that turmeric powder can help prevent Alzheimer’s, reduce the risk of heart disease as well as preventing cancer.
A popular spice that can be added to sweet or savoury dishes, ginger is an anti-inflammatory herb that is popularly used as an alternative form of medicine. Studies have shown that ginger can significantly improve nausea caused by morning sickness or illness. As ginger is an anti-inflammatory, it may help with reducing joint and muscle pain as well as calming your mind.
Known for its medicinal properties, peppermint is perfect for aromatherapy and general health. Like many other herbs, peppermint leaves relies on its oily component to provide all the health benefits. Studies have shown that peppermint oil can help to improve gut health, prevent bloating and can also help with nausea and morning sickness.
A popular spice and a versatile one, cinnamon is very popular for baked goods. What makes cinnamon special is its medicinal properties thanks to a compound called cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamon can help the body to fight inflammation and has shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood thanks to its potent antioxidant content.
Cinnamon is mainly known for its ability to lower blood sugar levels by slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates and improving insulin sensitivity. Studies have shown that cinnamon can lower blood sugar by 10-29% in diabetic patients. A healthy daily dose of cinnamon would be 0.5-2 teaspoons which can be baked in bread, mixed in yoghurt or other snacks.
5. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne peppers are great for people looking to lose weight through increased metabolism. Cayenne peppers contain an anti-inflammatory substance called capsaicin. This is also known to have anti-cancer properties. Capsaicin is a popular compound in weight loss supplements as it’s known to reduce appetite and increase fat burning by boosting your metabolism.
6. Holy basil
Not to be confused with regular basil, in India, holy basil is considered as a sacred herb. Holy basil is known to improve multiple aspects of health. One small study has shown that holy basil can increase immune cells in the blood, boosting motor functioning and mobility as well as brain functioning. Holy basil is also known to reduce blood sugar levels.
Deriving from the Latin word ‘salvere‘ meaning ‘to save’. Sage has built a strong reputation for its healing properties from centuries ago. Research has shown that sage can improve brain function and memory, and maybe good to have for people with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s disease leads to a drop in the level of acetylcholine which is a chemical messenger in the brain that keeps its functioning running smoothly. Sage helps to inhibit that breakdown.
A popular herb used in many savoury dishes, garlic has also been used for medicinal purposes. Most of the health effects that come from garlic come down to a compound called allicin, which is also responsible for garlic’s strong aroma.
It is known to combat common illnesses such as colds and flu and can improve your overall immune system. Garlic is also known to improve heart health by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol from up to 10%.
With the above list of herbs and spices, providing an abundance of unique health benefits, now you can practice making new dishes to enhance the flavour as well as boosting your health.
Accompanied by a healthy diet and nutrient-rich base meals, cooking with herbs and spices will be a trial and error process for you. Although certain dishes may not taste favourable, at least you won’t be missing out on the nutritional benefits of these herbs and spices.
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