Diet & Nutrition
“Spice” Up Your Health
Did you know that one of the easiest things you can do to improve your health is to use a handful of spices each day. Simply adding the right spices increases nutrients in your diet, allows you to use less salt and sugar for taste, and also has important health side benefits. Here are a few of the healthiest:
What doesn’t cinnamon do is really the question. Cinnamon contains a lot of important minerals: iron, calcium and manganese…and fiber, too. It is a powerful antioxidant. It regulates your blood sugar and reduces insulin resistance, potentially lowering diabetes risk. Because of it’s spicy sweet taste, it can satisfy cravings for sugar or artificial sweeteners (both of which are bad for you). Says Dr. Susan Brown, author of Better Bones, Better Body, “Cinnamon reduces bone breakdown and can help prevent osteoporotic bone loss”. It may also help stimulate the brain, reducing brain fog. Studies are currently underway examining whether cinnamon has an inhibitory effect on the protein, Tau, seen in Alzheimer’s. Buy the healthier, Ceylon Cinnamon, also called “true cinnamon”. ½ – 1 teaspoon spread throughout the day. Sprinkle on fruit, oatmeal, Chai tea, or just about anything!
Turmeric is the yellow spice found in most curry recipes. It is another highly antioxidant-rich herb that is also known for anti-inflammatory benefits. Inflammation in the body is viewed as a precursor to many diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and allergies. Referred to by many as the “anti-cancer” spice, turmeric contains curcumin, which has shown to have anti-cancer effects in animal and laboratory studies. Dr. Sara Gottfried, author of The Hormone Cure, has said relating to top breast care prevention strategies, “Eat turmeric on your food, the world’s most potent anti-inflammatory.” Some practitioners prescribe turmeric to relieve inflammation due to injuries, arthritis, and muscle sprains. ½ – 1 teaspoon in tea, meat dishes, yogurt, eggs, etc. The dried herb normally contains from 3-5% curcumin.
Rich in Vitamin C, B6 and manganese; Garlic is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal – killing off yeast infections such as candida – and has anti-parasitic properties. It provides fuel for healthy probiotics and supports a strong immune system. Garlic contains allicin, which blocks enzymes that lead to viral infections. Allicin is heat sensitive, so raw garlic is better. Enjoy a clove daily.
These hot spices are all antioxidants containing a compound called capsaicin, which causes endorphin release (a pleasure hormone) in the body, potentially reducing arthritis pain, neuropathic pain and skin itching. Capsaicin also lowered blood pressure and suppressed appetite in laboratory studies.