In a world where most people are trying to cut back on the total number of calories they consume to lose body fat and improve their health, never has there been a more important time to experiment with different herbs and spices.
Not only are these going to help you reduce the need for high-calorie condiments and sauces (which won’t do your waistline proud!), but they are also going to provide important health benefits.
Many people overlook the different benefits you can get from spices, so it’s time to give this some attention. Some can be just as powerful as certain medications or supplements, but come without the unwanted side effects you may otherwise see.
Here are a few to start paying more attention to.
Turmeric - The Curcumin King
Turmeric, which is a popular spice in Indian cuisine, is the first one that you’ll want to start eating. It’s not turmeric itself that provides the health benefits we know about but rather, it’s the curcumin that’s found in it.
What’s so special about curcumin? First, it provides a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the body. As inflammation is the leading cause of many diseases today, this is a very important point to note.
It also acts as a strong antioxidant, combating free radical damage, and will also help to decrease your risk of brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or depression.
Turmeric is also a great spice to consider if you are worried about heart disease as it may help to lower your risk factor and regulate blood pressure at the same time.
Finally, it’s also an excellent choice for those who are suffering from arthritis as it may help to reduce the pain associated with this inflammatory condition.
Garlic - Megasource of Vitamin C & B6
One of the most often consumed herbs, garlic is also loaded with health benefits. Allicin is the main compound found in garlic and provides a good dose of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, and fibre to your diet.
It’s also been shown to help reduce the severity and duration of the common cold and flu when consumed during the initial period of the cold, so you may want to load up, especially as cold and flu season comes near.
Garlic is also a spice that’s great for reducing blood pressure levels and as such may help to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Finally, it may also actually improve bone health, especially in women who are going through menopause. It does this by decreasing the markers of estrogen deficiency, which is linked to a decrease in bone density.
It also tastes great, so is an easy addition to just about any recipe.
Cinnamon - Ultimate Glucose Regulator
When was the last time you incorporated cinnamon into your meals? Many people view this as a spice to only use at the breakfast table and in baked goods, but it can also be used in main dishes as well.
What’s more is that cinnamon can be one of the most powerful health boosters. Those who consume cinnamon with their food, especially if eating a carb dense meal, tend to notice less of an overall blood glucose spike than if they hadn’t consumed it.
Therefore, it may help to regulate blood glucose levels and can be especially helpful in preventing diabetes.
Cinnamon also offers anti-inflammatory benefits and is a good source of antioxidants. Those who consume cinnamon may notice lower blood pressure levels as well, so this can serve as a great way to improve heart health.
Finally, it may help to inhibit cancer tumour growth as well as protect the DNA from damage, so is a great spice to consume if you are looking to lower your risk factor for cancer.
Ginger - So Much More Than Anti-Nausea
Ginger, which is most commonly associated with pregnant women who are looking to ward off morning sickness also offers many great benefits for just about anyone. While it will definitely help reduce nausea, it can also be used by athletes to assist with the reduction in muscle pain and soreness after exercise.
It too offers great anti-inflammatory properties and may help those who are suffering from osteoarthritis. Those who consume cinnamon as well as ginger may notice a reduction in the stiffness and pain they experience in their joints.
Ginger, along with its anti-nausea effects, may also help to boost digestion, therefore helping to relieve indigestion symptoms in those who often suffer from this condition.
Chilli Peppers - The Metobolic Stimulator
Finally, the last of the spices you may want to try out if you are looking to boost your health and flavour-up your foods is chilli peppers. This one is great for the weight loss crowd because chilli peppers contain capsaicin, which is a compound that will actually stimulate the resting metabolic rate, helping you burn more calories for a few hours after consuming it.
Since weight loss comes down to calories consumed versus expended, anything you can do to tilt the scale in your favour is beneficial. Those who consume spicy foods also tend to eat fewer calories during the meal, so it can also assist with weight loss in that regard as well.
So there you have some of the best herbs and spices to add to your menu to help improve taste while boosting health at the same time. So try your best to work these amazing spices into your recipes, your body will thank you… and your taste buds will also be grateful!
...and remember, qualified nutritionists at Healthy Being are available to offer further general advice to help guide you in selecting the right products. So please, feel free to contact us at any time!
Dr Peter Succar heads up the Product Research Team at Healthy Being and is an enthusiastic Health & Fitness Lifestyle Coach. He's passionate about helping others obtain optimum health, advocating realistic and achievable changes in diets and lifestyles that promote the body’s natural immunity, its ability to self-heal and achieve overall mental and physical well-being.