Look no further than your spice rack for the secret to losing weight, boosting brainpower and fighting inflammation.
The golden spice that gives curry its distinctive yellow color also provides a medicine chest full of health benefits. Turmeric is high in dietary fiber, iron, manganese, vitamin B6 and potassium. Studies show it helps relieve bloating and indigestion and also has antibacterial properties. A 2012 study in Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology shows the active ingredient in turmeric – curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory. Researchers at the University of Buffalo recently discovered that these anti-inflammatory properties may be good for your waistline and reduce the risk of obesity related diseases. Try using turmeric to jazz up scrambled eggs, soups, rice or veggies, or brew up a pot of turmeric tea:
Boil 1-2 cups water, then simmer with one teaspoon turmeric, one teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg for 10 minutes. Strain. Sweeten with raw honey and add a dollop of almond or coconut milk to taste. Include a pinch of cloves or a teaspoon of fresh ground ginger to the water.
Pepper flakes, cayenne and paprika not only add spark to plain dishes, they’re also a handy source of healing and pain relief. Capsaicin, the chemical that gives peppers their kick, fights pain by blocking pain signals to the brain. (The hotter the pepper, the better.) Capsaicin is often used as a cream or lotion to relieve neuralgia (pain that originates in nerves near the skin surface). A study in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that capsaicin in nasal spray form reduces migraine pain and also helps fight cold symptoms. And although spicy food is often blamed for upset stomach, eating capsaicin actually promotes digestive health by reducing stomach acid and relieving bloating and nausea.
Did you know that just one teaspoon of ground cinnamon contains the same amount of cancer-fighting antioxidants as a half cup of blueberries? A study published in BMC Cancer found that cinnamon extract may actually help prevent tumor cell growth. Cinnamaldehyde, the compound that gives the spice its color and flavor, is also the key ingredient in fighting a host of other illnesses. A 2013 study from the University of California, Santa Barbara found it may even help ward off Alzheimer’s by preventing the development of ‘tangles’ in brain cells. Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Hannover found that cinnamon also helps control blood sugar in patients with Type 2 diabetes. Study participants who took cinnamon extract three times a day (the equivalent of about three grams of cinnamon) for four months had significantly lower glucose levels than those who didn’t sample the spicy extract.