Ihave been rummaging through the cupboard this week, looking at the variety of spices and herbs I have. I am a firm believer that these jars of goodies are a simple way to add flavour to any dish, but they are also a wonderful way to add health benefits to your diet.
Cinnamon and ginger – Many of us already use these regularly and they’re a great addition to baking; pair beautifully with apples and pears; and can be added to a smoothie to boost flavour. But did you know they are both full of antioxidants and protect your body from damage caused by free radicals? They are also anti-inflammatories and can help if you suffer from chronic inflammatory conditions and nausea.
Cardamom – I love this spice and it’s best brought in pods, ready to crush as the flavour is far more intense. I have started adding this to chocolate bakes and hot chocolates as it really enhances the taste. It is thought that cardamom can help with high blood pressure so it’s worth investigating if you suffer from hypertension. It has also been shown to help with digestive issues and sickness.
Paprika – I use this a lot and I love the sweet smoked variety. I add it to stews and tomato sauces, mainly to really change the flavour. Try adding some tinned butter beans to a tomato sauce with 1 tsp of smoked paprika and you will have a very Spanish-tasting dish. The health benefits of paprika is found in the vitamin E it contains, so it can help wound healing and skin conditions. There are also suggestions it can even help against hair loss.
Turmeric - I adore the sunny colour of this spice and it adds such a glorious hue to my curries and tagines. It has a subtle, earthy flavour and goes well with many ingredients. However, it is now becoming more and more popular worldwide because of the growing awareness of its therapeutic properties. Of all the spices, this one really is in a class of its own currently. You can buy turmeric tablets, shots, drinks for recovery and healing and other preparations due to the health benefits it has and it’s certainly worth looking into further if you like the idea of natural remedies. Due to the curcumin found in its yellow pigment, turmeric is known to contain antioxidant properties also. These are great for us when trying to combat age-related disorders and metabolic diseases that can be caused by the oxidative processes in the body.
Also, this curcumin is undergoing many studies to investigate its anti-inflammatory properties. Already shown to be able to slow down inflammation, there are clinical trials being performed comparing this compound with anti-inflammatory drugs, like Ibuprofen. Curcumin has also been linked to helping pre-menstrual tension, acne, arthritis, depression. Clinical studies are also under way to investigate its function with Alzheimer’s Disease and some cancers.
Here’s a quick smoothie recipe which would help you get these wonderful benefits (serves 1):
1 Banana (chopped and frozen is better)
½ a mango (or 3 tbsp frozen cubes)
1 tsp Turmeric Powder (or grated root)
½ tsp Ginger Root
1 tbsp Protein Powder (optional)
1 cup of Water/milk of choice
Method: Using a high-speed blender, add all of the ingredients and process until smooth. Serve immediately.
There are many herbs and spices available to us that can help towards better health. Be mindful of what you buy though and use it up quickly as they can lose their benefits once opened.
If you have any health issues that you are trying to manage with natural products, you are still recommended to speak to your health care provider first.