Kitchen Spices That Boost Your Health & Wellbeing | Affinity Health
Affinity Health – leading providers of affordable medical insurance in SA – highlights 10 of the world’s healthiest spices, supported by research.
The Healing Properties of Spices
It’s true: Compounds from spices you probably already have in your spice rack, can provide some amazing health benefits. While there are more than 100 common spices used in cooking to enhance flavour, a handful are celebrated for their medicinal properties.
Bursting with anti-inflammatory properties, this aromatic tree bark is best-known for aiding digestion and gastrointestinal complaints. It has also long been used as a home remedy for heartburn, indigestion, and nausea. Scientific research shows cinnamon can assist those with type 2 diabetes and is an essential tool in managing symptoms. Cinnamon is also used as an appetite suppressant for those with sugar addiction and contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants.
Mother Nature got creative with this unusual spice. Star anise is made from the fruit of a Chinese evergreen tree called Illicium verum. It is known for treating a variety of fungal, bacterial and viral infections. The oil produced from star anise contains thymol, terpineol and anethole, which is used for treating cough and flu.
This spice has earned its bragging rights and is famed for a wide range of healing properties. Ginger contains substances known as gingerols that reduce inflammation and turn off pain-causing compounds in the body. It’s also loaded with antioxidants that help protect the body from cancer and other diseases.
While more research still needs to be done, scientists are adamant that this nifty spice helps prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Turmeric also has strong anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce inflammation and swelling in people with arthritis.
Black pepper is one of the most popular spices globally, and it is no wonder why. Flavour aside, pepper has the active ingredient Piperine, which helps fight free radicals and improve digestion and absorb beneficial compounds. Laboratory studies suggest that black pepper may improve cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, and brain and gut health.
Made from the seed of the evergreen nutmeg tree native to Indonesia, this spice contains potent anti-inflammatory plant compounds that act as antioxidants. Nutmeg is known to improve mood, blood sugar control, and heart health, as well as having hypotensive abilities that can help manage hypertension.
Black Mustard Seed
Who would have known that a tiny two-millimetre round seed could garner such a wide fan base. The mustard seed has no reason to be humble. Mustard seeds contain vitamins A, B6, and C, dietary folate, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, selenium, manganese, phosphorus, and copper. This spice also helps target conditions like flatulence, cold, chest and bladder ailments.
This spice packs a punch, not just for its fiery effect on the taste buds, but its impact on pain too! Cayenne pepper contains alkaloid capsaicin, which blocks the chemicals that send pain messages to the brain. It also kicks stars the body’s metabolism and boosts calorie and fat burning. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people with diabetes eat liberal amounts of cayenne, less insulin is required to reduce their body’s blood sugar.
Sourced from an evergreen tree that grows in Asia and South America, cloves are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. This spice contains anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial properties. Along with fighting against oral diseases, cloves are thought to help ease headaches.
The second-most expensive spice in the world, vanilla contains a compound known as vanillin that has antioxidant, antidepressant, and antitumor effects. It has been used to reduce skin infections and in wound healing. It is also a great space if you want to shed some extra weight due to its natural appetite-suppressing qualities.
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