Top 5 Healthiest Herbs & Spices to Boost Your Health | Nutrition
You may have not noticed this, but if you add herbs and spices to your food, you cut down on some less-healthy ingredients such as added sugars, salt, and even saturated fat, which can raise cholesterol levels in your blood. In addition to this, herbs and spices have inherent health benefits. Apparently, they do more than just add flavor to your food.
In India, where herbs and spices are used by the handful, diseases like heart disease, cancer, and other diet-related illnesses, have been low for a very long time, although that is changing. Indians, particularly the younger population, are increasingly adding Western foods in their diet. Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D., however, doesn’t blame it all on Western foods. It’s just that, Western foods lack herbs and spices that provide health benefits.
According to Aggarwal, who is the author of Healing Spices and a professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, it’s only been recently that we all are realizing the health benefits of herbs and spices when in fact, they have been in use for thousands of years as medicine. Modern science is finally beginning and gradually uncovering the power of herbs and spices to combat illnesses from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer.
In reality though, science has yet to prove that any herb or spice can cure diseases. There are however, scientific evidences proving certain herbs and spices can help manage some chronic conditions and improve overall health. Here five healthiest herbs and spices that you should add to your food.
#1 Ginger: Fights arthritis pain and soothes an upset stomach
Ginger extracts can help reduce nausea following chemotherapy or surgery. It can also lessen symptoms of morning sickness or motion sickness, though it’s less effective for the latter. It is also packed with gingerols, an inflammation-fighting compound, which can help soothe sore muscles and reduce osteoarthritis pain. Ginger can also lessen muscle pain caused by performing exercises.
#2 Chili Peppers: Boosts metabolism
Chili peppers can boost your metabolism because of a compound that it possesses: capsaicin. It causes you to burn more calories because it can increase the body's metabolic rate. It can also make you feel less hungry by stimulating brain chemicals.
Capsaicin also has other benefits. It helps the heart prevent LDL, or bad cholesterol, to turn into a more lethal, artery-clogging form. It also boosts the ability of stomach cells to resist infection from ulcer-causing bacteria, lowering risk of ulcers.
Even chili hybrids, milder forms of chili peppers, such as paprika have capsaicin-similar compounds, though gentler. They have capsinoids, which have the same effects and benefits that capsaicin offer.
#3: Cinnamon: Helps stabilize blood sugar
Adding a teaspoon of cinnamon to your food each day may help better control your blood sugar. It lowers blood sugar spikes that diabetic people experience after eating.
Plus, regular consumption of cinnamon, or adding it to your meals or drinks, increased the activity of proteins, enzymes, and several genes known to enhance fat metabolism. This triggers human cells to start thermogenesis, or the process of burning calories in the human body.
Related reading: Why Cinnamon is Good for You
#4 Saffron: Helps improve your mood
Saffron can help lift your mood when you’re feeling down. For women, saffron can help relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and depression.
#5 Turmeric: Helps inhibit tumors and control inflammation
Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, the spice that gives curry its golden color, has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. As an antioxidant, it can protect your cells against damage caused by free radicals. It can also help improve memory and mood in adults.
In recent years however, turmeric has gained popularity because of its abilities to help prevent pancreatic cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease.
Related reading: Turmeric Improves Mood and Memory
Before this article ends, we’d like to remind you to consult your doctor before you decide to use herbs and spices as medicine. You may still need your prescription drugs. Or better yet, consult with our qualified nutritionist to help you create meals that have herbs and spices in them!
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