Spice Up Your Life While Still Providing Health Benefits
While no longer the currency of society, given their impressive health benefits, these spices may just be worth their weight in gold. They’re powerful inflammation reducers, metabolism boosters, blood sugar balancers and more. Unfortunately though, when it comes to spicing it up in the kitchen, many of us fall back on what we’re familiar with. “Most Americans eat few spices and should be incorporating more into their diet,” Melina Jampolis, MD, physician nutrition specialist and founder of SpiceFit said to MyDomaine. “It is a simple way to boost the healthfulness of their diet while also boosting the flavor, so it’s a win-win.”
5 Spices That Can Give You A Win On The Regular:
1. Cinnamon – Balances Blood Sugar
What It Does: Got a sweet tooth? Cinnamon can help. Not only is it good for satisfying sweet cravings by tricking your brain into thinking you’re eating something sweet, cinnamon also contains phytochemicals that help balance blood sugar and increase glucose metabolism in cells (so it’s not stored as fat).
Know This: Not all cinnamon is created equal. Cassia cinnamon is cheaper and more common however, Ceylon cinnamon (which costs a bit more) is the one that’s touted for its health benefits. As always make sure you buy organic to reap the most rewards.
How We Like It: Add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon to your morning brew or smoothie.
2. Cacao – Promotes Cardiovascular Health
What It Does: Chocolate lovers rejoice! You likely know that cacao is good for you, but do you know how good? Numerous studies show that people who eat dark chocolate have tickers (that’s your heart) in tip-top shape. In fact, according to a study published in the journal Circulation Heart Failure, women who ate two servings of dark chocolate per week had a 32 percent lower risk for developing heart failure. Wow!
Know This: Quality counts when it comes to eating chocolate. You want organic and at least 60 percent cacao or higher. A bar like this would do the job nicely.
How We Like It: Raw Truffle Balls
3. Ginger –Eases Muscles Soreness
What It Does: Not only is ginger a miracle worker for helping to reduce nausea and calm an upset stomach, research also shows that this root can work wonders on sore muscles. In one study, consuming 2 grams of ginger (roughly ½ a tablespoon) for 11 days helped to reduce muscle soreness from exercise by as much as 25 percent. That’s not all, ginger’s anti-inflammatory effects have also been shown effective for decreasing menstrual cramps.
Know This: Gingerols are the active compounds in ginger that gives it its anti-inflammatory cred. If you want the highest levels, eating fresh ginger is the way to go.
How We Like It: Miso Ginger Dressing from NYT Cooking
4. Chile Pepper – Boosts the Metabolism
What It Does: Whether you got hot sauce in your bag or not, there’s good reason to keep something with a little kick nearby during meal times. Research shows that the capsaicin in Chile peppers is not only good for clearing out the sinuses but also a powerful way to rev the metabolism and even decrease appetite. In fact, researchers in Canada found that men who ate a spicy appetizer before dinner ended up eating 200 fewer calories during their meal.
Know This: You can tell how much capsaicin is in a pepper at first bite. The hotter it tastes, the more of the powerful compound it contains. Pure capsaicin registers at 15,000,000 Scoville heat units (the measurement used to determine how spicy something is). By comparison, U.S. Grade pepper spray is between 2,000,000 and 5,300,000 Scoville’s. The hottest pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper, which registers at 2,200,000 SHU. Not a fan of spicy foods? You can still get some of capsaicin’s benefits in milder Chiles like poblanos, which have around 1,000 SHUs.
How We Like It: Spicy Habanero Hot Sauce from Minimalist Baker
5. Cumin – Improves Cholesterol and More
What It Does: Help your cumin break out of the bounds of Mexican and Indian cuisine. One of the healthiest spices, a sprinkle can and should find its way into many dishes for an instant health boost. Cumin is shown for reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol and boosting “good” HDL cholesterol. But that’s only one of its benefits. It’s also an inflammation reducer, weight loss promoter and has natural anti-microbial properties, which can help protect against food-borne illness. In fact, this is one reason people reached for cumin back in the day.
Know this: To get the most beneficial compounds, fresher is better. Consider buying cumin seed and grinding yourself for not only a potent health boost but also the most flavor.
How We Like It: Moroccan Vegetables Stew from My Recipes