They’re often called “super spices” and are used to not only improve the flavor of food but also can substitute for sodium and other harmful additives. These super spices have also been connected in many studies to help reduce the risk of many forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, Parkinson’s and many other ailments. They’re not cure-alls by any stretch of the imagination but they are aptly nicknamed “healing spices” for good reason and should be part of a healthy diet.
Gourmet and home chefs often use these spices in the preparation of foods they prepare. They’re also used to flavor foods after they’ve been prepared – cinnamon sprinkled on anything is delicious. Mixologists have created drinks from turmeric and other spices and there is a buzz on the Internet regarding Golden Milk, a spice drink used for centuries in Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine.
There are many spices that fall into the category of healing spices, each with their own unique properties and effects on the body. Here are seven commonly used spices that can help you in the kitchen to prepare some truly delicious dishes and help you maintain a healthy and healing diet.
From a flavor standpoint, the more cinnamon the better. From a health benefit standpoint, studies have shown that cinnamon is one of the more powerful healing spices you can add to your diet. It boosts the natural hormone production of insulin to help control blood sugar levels, has antioxidant properties called polyphenols which helps against diseases such as cancer, Alzheimers and Parkinson’s.
Used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, Turmeric is what gives curry that yellow tint, a color that originates from a chemical called curcumin, a powerful antioxidant that helps to reduce inflammation, prevent cancer, amyloid plaque development and more. If there is one spice you do want to include in your diet, this would be it.
A widely used spice in baked goods and to flavor tea and soup, Ginger has been used by Asian and Indian cultures for thousands of years to help ease nausea. It is a great spice for digestive health, helping to reduce intestinal contractions and neutralizing acids. Studies have also shown ginger can reduce inflammation as well, which may help with arthritis.
A staple within Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian cooking, coriander produces two oils, linalool and geranyl acetate, which are antioxidants that can help with irritable bowel syndrome, as it calms intestinal spasms that can lead to diarrhea. Coriander is also being studied for its potential cholesterol-reducing benefits.
If you’ve ever heard the term, “sage advice,” the reference is a tribute to the spice that millions use within daily food preparation. Sage is known as a memory enhancer and can help improve cognitive functions. The spice has shown to inhibit an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, which is what many Alzheimer’s prescribed drugs seek to contain. It is thought one of the active ingredients in sage, rosmarinic acid, helps to protect against amyloid peptides, which is believed to contribute to Alzhermer’s.
Another memory spice, one of Rosemary’s active ingredients is rosmarinic acid but it also produces carnosic acid and carnosol. These ingredients are thought to help protect the brain against free-radical damage, protect against amyloid peptides and reduce the risk of stroke.
Often called the most expensive spice in the world, saffron threads have to be carefully gathered by hand from crocus flowers. It literally takes 80,000 blue saffron crocus flowers and a quarter million dried stigmas to create on pound of saffron. However, saffron is known as a highly effective antidepressant, with properties similar to Prozac.