Spice Up Your Life!

When thinking of healthy eating, few think of adding spices to their food.  Spices are a great way to make your taste buds happy while reaping nutritional benefits like reducing pain, reducing the risk of cancer, and promoting a healthy heart.  Adding spices can also reduce the need for added salt!  There are numerous spices that are beneficial.  Here, we’ll focus on cinnamon, capsaicin, ginger, garlic, thyme, and oregano.

Cinnamon is a popular, sweet spice that has several benefits to heart health including keeping cholesterol in check, reducing plaque build-up in arteries, and reducing blood sugar levels.  Cinnamon has a warm flavor that pairs well with oatmeal, a sprinkle in your coffee, or on top of cooked carrots.  Another favorite way to enjoy cinnamon is to combine a spoonful of sugar with cinnamon and dip apple slices in it for a delicious snack.

For a spicy kick to your meal, consider incorporating capsaicin.  Capsaicin is the element in hot peppers that gives them their spiciness.  It can help reduce pain, sustain a healthy heart, and stop ulcers.  Consider adding paprika (which has capsaicin) to your popcorn for a spicy treat!

 

Ginger is one of the best spices to aid in digestion.  Ginger can improve absorption of nutrients, reduce nausea, reduce flatulence, and reduce stomach cramps.  More benefits of ginger include anti-inflammatory properties and easing congestion when a pesky cold or sore throat is bothersome.  Consider adding ginger to your tea with a little bit of peppermint.

Garlic is probably best known for its pungent, sharp flavor.  Garlic can be used in a plethora of different ways.  In the diet, garlic is a powerful antibiotic and antiviral agent.  Studies suggest that garlic may also prevent blood clots from forming in arteries.  A great way to enjoy garlic is to combine a minced garlic clove with mashed avocado, lime juice, and a little bit of salt for a tasty guacamole.

Thyme is a member of the mint family.  It has a strong flavor that compliments flavors in things like soups, stews, and roasts.  The oil found in thyme is a powerful antioxidant.  It has also been shown to have naturally occurring antibacterial properties.  The great thing about spices having antibacterial properties is that bacteria don’t build immunity to them, unlike traditional antibiotics.

Oregano is well known as an addition to pizza or other Italian dishes like pasta.  Oregano can prevent bacteria from multiplying and it is also a great source of vitamin K, as well as other antioxidants.  Oregano can be used to make a tasty, low-calorie salad dressing by taking a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a teaspoon of oregano.  Simply heat the ingredients until they are fragrant and add to your salad with a drizzle of red wine vinegar for a fresh, homemade dressing.