TEN HEALTHY SPICES THAT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE
Variety is the spice of life. And as it turns out, variety in your spices is the secret to a long life.
If all you ever use to spice your food is salt and pepper, you’re not only missing out on some amazing flavors, you’re also missing out on some incredibly healthy spices. Pound for pound, herbs and spices have more antioxidants, phytochemicals and other beneficial compounds than any other food group (including fruits and vegetables).
There have been a number of recent studies that have validated the ancient traditions of using spices for health benefits and healing, not only for flavoring foods.
Modern science has demonstrated repeatedly that common spices found on the kitchen counter are not only tasty, but also beneficial to your health, longevity, and in fighting diseases.
A study of almost half a million people in China over a four year period demonstrated that people who added spices to their foods reduced their risk of premature death by 14% versus those people who ate only non-spicy food.
Here are some healthy spices you’ll find in most kitchen cabinets and some of their benefits:
Oregano is commonly used for pizza – that’s the first thing I think of when I use it. However, it’s much more than that. It contains more antioxidants (per gram) than virtually all fruits and berries. Oregano also contains some incredibly beneficial phytochemicals, such as thymol, carvacrol, and rosemaric acid. These phytochemicals have strong antibacterial properties.
Oregano has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Ointments made from Oregano have been shown to help cuts and wounds heal faster. Oregano was also tested against 20 different strains of various bacteria (including E.coli) and was shown to be effective against all the various bacteria.
- Cayenne Pepper (and other hot chili peppers)
Capsaicin is one of the main ingredients found in hot peppers. It’s a very strong anti-inflammatory that helps reduce pain and inflammation. There are a LOT of studies done that show the numerous beneficial effects of capsaicin on Herpes Zoster (shingles), pain reduction, stomach problems, and arthritis.
Of course, it’s also been shown to help clean out your nose by making it run (also tear ducts). I know that whenever I eat spicy peppers I can’t stop blowing my nose and wiping the tears from my eyes (if their hot enough). The excess mucus is drained from your lungs via your nose – something very useful for those winter months.
Spicy peppers have been shown to actually heal gastric ulcers (which are caused by bacteria that spicy peppers help kill).
A recent study has also shown that spicy peppers reduce appetite and help people feel full. It also has been shown to increase your core body temperature, both of those things help in losing weight by burning more calories.
Capsaicin has also been shown to reduce lower back pain, pain after surgery, and nerve pain. It has been shown to reduce itching from psoriasis.
Cinnamon has been in the news a lot recently due to its strong antioxidant effects. It’s been shown to prevent blood clots and may even protect you against cardiovascular disease.
One of the best benefits of consuming cinnamon is its effect on controlling blood sugar – something that’s a huge problem in today’s Western diet. Cinnamon lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and may also prevent insulin resistance.
As you know from my previous posts, insulin is the hormone that basically tells your body to either start storing fat or to burn it – so a spice that helps with insulin resistance and blood sugar levels is incredibly beneficial.
Cinnamon can help with Type 2 Diabetes – “cinnamon has a possible modest effect in lowering plasma glucose levels in patients with poorly controlled Type 2 Diabetes.” However, it has not been shown to be more beneficial than a placebo for patients with Type 1 Diabetes.
I used to eat ginger as a child to help prevent motion sickness – it’s a well-known natural substitute to regular motion sickness medicine, which always had negative side effects. After reviewing the research, it’s inconclusive if ginger is actually effective in helping with motion sickness (some studies show it is, while others dispute this claim).
However, ginger has been shown to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy, as well as when caused by surgery.
The active compound in ginger – gingerol, also relaxes blood vessels and stimulates blood flow. This can relieve pain and also has been used as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It helps with arthritis and other illnesses related to inflammation.
Turmeric has been used for more than 4,000 years to treat a variety of illnesses. Additionally, there have been more than 50 clinical trials done on cumin, the compound found in Turmeric that gives it its bright yellow color.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric, has been found to play a significant role in treating brain disease (like dementia and Alzheimer’s), various types of cancer (colon, lung, multiple myeloma, pancreatic), and to act as an anti-inflammatory.
It’s actually been shown to help speed recovery after surgery and to treat arthritis better than leading pharmaceutical drugs. Turmeric has also been shown to be helpful for people suffering from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Turmeric is great to have with black pepper – this is because piperine, the compound in black pepper – works together with turmeric to prevent your liver from getting rid of the curcumin you just ate. Eat about a quarter teaspoon daily to see a huge number of health benefits – easy enough to add to almost any cooked food, including rice, vegetables, or meats that you’re cooking.
In recent lab studies, marjoram appears to beneficially effect women’s hormone levels. It appears to slow down the spread of breast cancer cells in women with polycycstic ovary syndrome.
In the study, women with this condition were asked to drink two cups of marjoram tea on an empty stomach daily for 30 days.
Coriander, otherwise known as cilantro, has been shown to help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol. This is especially important for people with Type 2 Diabetes or the starting signs of diabetes – like insulin resistance or high blood sugar.
It’s also been shown to reduce anxiety and can be used as a sleep aid.
A recent study demonstrated that 20 sprigs of coriander eaten every day for 60 days reduced inflammation in arthritis patients. It also cut uric acid levels in half, demonstrating that people with gout could benefit from its consumption as well.
One funny tidbit – some people appear to be genetically predisposed to cilantro tasting like soap.
Parsley is usually found on a plate to dress it up. However, it has a ton of antioxidants due to myristicin, found in spades within parsley.
It’s been shown to slow the growth of tumors in animal studies, especially in the lung. It also helps to reduce the negative effects of smoking.
And an added bonus – it actually helps reduce bad breath.
Sage has been shown to be effective in reducing the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and other inflammatory diseases.
Another lesser known benefit of sage is that it’s been shown to improve your memory.
Garlic has so many health benefits it’s worth it’s own article or blog post.
My grandfather actually took garlic supplements instead of some heart medications.
Allicin, the active ingredient in garlic, helps fight heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
It’s also “nature’s antibiotic”.
Another huge benefit – it can help improve brain function and protect the brain from Dementia and Alzeheimer’s Disease.
We’re just beginning to understand the world of phytochemicals and how all these substances work together to protect the body from a variety of diseases and illnesses.
But one thing that’s been shown over and over again is that these spices do have an incredibly beneficial effect on your health. They taste great, add flavor to your dishes, and protect you at the same time.
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