Whilst most food aficionados will espouse the flavour benefits of adding spices to a meal, there is a growing body of epidemiological and preclinical evidence that points to far more important reasons why scientists should start incorporating certain spices into their diet. With antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, anticancer characteristics, an ability to boost the immune system and lower cholesterol, adding a little spice to your life could be just what the doctor ordered:
- Turmeric – A part of traditional Indian medicine for the last 4000 years, turmeric contains curcuminoids which have been shown to provide numerous health benefits, including the ability to strengthen the immune system and lower cholesterol. Studies have shown that turmeric can also detoxify the liver and aid in digestion, whilst further research is being done in relation to turmeric as an aid for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon is delicious when added to a decadent dessert, but it is also packed full of antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties, which makes it an ideal spice for those who may be suffering from a respiratory infection. Cinnamon also contains antioxidant compounds which are essential in the prevention and repair of damage caused by free radicals.
- Cumin – For such a simple spice, cumin contains a wealth of vitamins and nutrients that can assist with general health and wellbeing, including fibre and protein; 100 grams of cumin contains 93% of the recommended dietary intake of calcium and 369% of your daily iron. For this reason cumin can be used in aiding anaemia, as well as a variety of other conditions including insomnia and anxiety.
- Cayenne Pepper – The high capsaicin levels found in cayenne pepper can make you break out in a sweat, and this is due to its ability to raise our core temperature. This in turn can affect the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which results in a lowered appetite for salty, fatty and sweet foods. As a result, adding cayenne pepper to meals can boost a person’s metabolism and help them to make healthier food choices.
- Ground Ginger – Multiple studies have been carried out to test the health benefits of ginger, and these have identified the bioactive compound gingerol as the main source of gingers medicinal properties. Scientific research has found that ginger can drastically reduce nausea, minimise osteoarthritis and joint pain and significantly lower cholesterol levels as a result of its powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
- Nutmeg – Containing a variety of minerals including magnesium and copper, nutmeg has been shown to boost the immune system, increase production of certain sex hormones and improve skeletal health. Some studies have also proven that the compounds in nutmeg may be useful in fighting the development of certain cancers.
So whether you’re looking to lower your cholesterol, aid your digestion or build up your immune system, try adding these six delicious spices into your diet and see what benefits they can bring to your overall health and wellbeing.