“But in truth, should I meet with gold or spices in great quantity, I shall remain till I collect as much as possible, and for this purpose I am proceeding solely in quest of them.”
Spices have been in great demand for centuries. The spices of India were so valued that Christopher Columbus set out to find a shorter way to travel to India to obtain their fragrant spices for Europeans. Instead, he found the spices of America. Chili pepper, cayenne and allspice are a few of the spices Columbus tasted for the first time in the New World.
Health Benefits of Spices and Herbs
Spices and herbs come from plants flowers, seeds, bark, leaves, roots and even flowers. Spices and herbs are used to flavor foods. In addition, they contain many health benefits including protection against cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Many are high in antioxidants and polyphenols, both of which provide health benefits. Herbs and spices help preserve foods and have antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Using spices and herbs adds flavor to foods and can help to reduce the amount of salt, sugar and fat consumed while increasing flavor in foods.
Using spices can even help with weight loss. Consuming spicy foods like hot peppers can aid in decreasing appetite. Capsaicin, a main ingredient in hot peppers can stimulate brown fat and increase metabolism, which means you will burn more calories. Capsaicin also causes blood vessels to dilate which may help lower blood pressure and may even help prevent blood clots and prevent bad cholesterol from building up.
Another spice turmeric, contains curcumin, a compound that helps reduce and prevent the growth of cancer cells. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help to lower bad cholesterol and reverse damage to blood vessels. Turmeric is often found in Indian foods.
For antioxidant value, you can’t beat Cinnamon. Cinnamon has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve capillary function and lower blood sugar and blood triglycerides, alleviate nausea and to increase sensitivity to insulin and aid in fat burning. The antimicrobial properties of Cinnamon can help extend the life of foods. Cinnamon works as a great addition to savory foods and in curry powders.
Basil has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, can help prevent osteoarthritis and helps with digestive disorders. Use Basil in soups, on grilled vegetables, on meat or directly in salads.
Turmeric is often found in Indian recipes and contains the cancer-fighting compound Curcumin. Turmeric is used to alleviate arthritis and reduce inflammation. Turmeric is also believed to have an anti-tumor effect. Turmeric can be added to many dishes including rice, baked foods, soups, meats and even eggs.
Garlic is commonly found in most kitchens and has many health benefits. Garlic comes in cloves, powder or minced form and provides added flavor to many dishes. Using garlic can help fight the common cold and recent research shows that garlic may help in weight control. Garlic can help reduce cholesterol and prevent blood clots. In laboratory studies, garlic has been shown to decrease risk for stomach and colon cancer. Garlic can be added to almost any recipe but is commonly used in chicken, seafood, rice, pasta, stir fry, tomato sauce and pizza.
Dill has the ability to settle an upset stomach. Dill is best used raw because nutrients are lost during cooking.
Cayenne increases metabolism and circulation, reduces risk for heart issues and can improve absorption of other nutrients.
Mint aids in digestion, inhibits bacteria growth and can help with nausea. Rubbing mint on your body can help repel mosquitos. Mint is typically used in teas, desserts and meat dishes.
Oregano has antiviral, antioxidant, antibacterial, and antibiotic properties. Oregano gas forty-two times more antioxidant activity than apples. Oregano is commonly used in Italian and Greek dishes
Cumin is typically used in Mexican or Spanish cuisine and is known for its antimicrobial properties. In many countries cumin is used as a natural remedy to treat allergies in addition to improving digestion and heartburn relief. Cumin is often used as a seasoning for chili or tacos.
Rosemary is high in antioxidants and may be beneficial in digestion. Rosemary may be helpful in reducing inflammation in conditions like asthma and heart disease. Use Rosemary in soups, with vegetables or in meat dishes. Rosemary was thought to protect against evil spirits in ancient Greece and when placed under a pillow believed to reveal a young lady’s future husband in a dream.
Thyme is part of the mint family, can aid id digestion and contains a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Thyme works well in baked dishes, on cooked vegetables in soups, stews, on eggs and in salad dressing.
We are still learning much about the valuable health and medicinal properties of herbs and spices. Our challenge this month involves expanding your use of spices in your diet.
Level 1 – Add one new spice to your daily nutrition
Level 2 – Combine one or more spices in a new recipe every week this month.
Level 3 – Try at least four spices that you are not familiar with this month in your meal planning.
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