Health benefits of Spices-More Than just a flavoring!


Fall has arrived, which means enjoying cooler weather, holidays, and comfort foods. If you’re looking for a unique way to experience these fall favorites, consider adding new spices to some of your favorite dishes, or experiment with new dishes!

Health benefits of spices:

Spices are made from seeds, fruits, roots, flowers, bark, or other plant components. Herbs & spices offer a host of health benefits and can be included in endless ways in the diet.

Here are some of the best spices to add flavor to your meals which may also help manage or prevent disease:

·       Turmeric has been shown to have important anti-inflammatory properties and is also a powerful antioxidant.  Consider adding turmeric to curry dishes, soups and stir-fry’s. Or try making a turmeric latte by adding about 1/2 teaspoon to a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk for a healthier alternative to coffee latte’s made with cow’s milk and added sugar.

·       Cinnamon is another “super” spice shown to have beneficial effects on blood sugar management, blood pressure control and cholesterol levels. Add cinnamon to hot cereal or coffee, sliced apples, smoothies, baked goods and toast.

·       Garlic exhibits both antimicrobial and antibacterial properties and may help prevent or treat illnesses related to bacterial, fungus, viruses and other “germs”. Garlic adds strong flavor to roasted vegetables, soups, pastas, meat, fish and poultry.

·       Ginger is most commonly known for its stomach-calming effects and can be taken to prevent or treat nausea as well as symptoms associated with heartburn. Ginger also contains anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cancer-fighting properties. Ginger pairs well with many Asian foods. It can also be added to smoothies, stews, vegetables, and marinades for meat, fish, and poultry.

·       Oregano is another natural antimicrobial and contains compounds that have potent antibiotic properties. Oregano is rich in antioxidants, which can help neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation  

·       Peppermint contains compounds that provide natural relief for those with irritable bowel syndrome, and can help reduce bloating and ease digestion. Peppermint also has potent anti-nausea effects and is also often used as a natural pain reliever for headaches or other body aches. Inhaling peppermint essential oil can be effective for clearing up the sinuses, and rubbing the oil on various part of the body is also known to be a natural pain reliever.

Some spices are sold in supplement form over the counter and can be taken similarly to a multivitamin. However, consuming spices in their most natural and unprocessed form is preferable to get the maximum nutritional benefits. Similarly to vitamins and minerals, the health benefits of spices work in synergy with other nutrients in foods consumed. For example, consuming turmeric along with black pepper enhances the absorption of the spice in the body, while simply taking a turmeric supplement may not have the same beneficial effect.

What are some of your favorite spices and how do you like to use them? Please share your comments below!