Put Some Spice in Your Life!
When it comes to eating healthy we often search for herbs and spices to give our food flavor. Most of the time, we don’t give a second thought to how those spices might contribute to our overall health.
Herbs and spices may help protect against chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as assist in anti-aging and inflammation.
Turmeric: The yellow compound curcumin, may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Preliminary studies have shown that curcumin seems to help prevent the development of the brain “plaques” associated with Alzheimer’s. According to Dr. Bharat Aggarwal, of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, it has also shown beneficial effects on immune function in people with diabetes.
· Sprinkle on egg salad.
· Mix half a teaspoon turmeric with 1 cup Greek yogurt and use as a dip or sandwich spread.
· Add to chicken or seafood casseroles, and to water when cooking rice.
Thyme: Researchers believe that thymol and other volatile oils in thyme may bring a range of antiaging effects. Some studies suggest that thyme can help maintain brain function and promote heart health.
· Sprinkle dried thyme onto cooked vegetables in place of butter or margarine.
· Add 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme to two scrambled eggs, and to salad dressings.
· Use it in a rub when cooking salmon.
· Add fresh thyme to chicken salad and chicken soup.
Chili Peppers: Dihydrocapsiate, a compound in chili peppers, boosted fat-burning capacity when people ate it three times a day during a study. And a recent study in Cell Metabolism showed that consuming capsaicin, the ingredient in chili peppers that provides heat, lowered blood pressure in lab animals.
· Add chopped peppers to chili, burgers, soups, stews, salsa, and egg dishes.
Cinnamon: Rich in polyphenols, it’s natural substances that appear to act a bit like insulin in the body – and which may help regulate blood sugar levels.
· Add 1.25 teaspoons to prepared oatmeal; 1 cup Greek yogurt mixed with 2 teaspoons molasses or honey, or artificial sweetener; and French toast batter.
· Sprinkle half a teaspoon of cinnamon over ground coffee before brewing.
· Top a fat-free latte or hot cocoa with ground cinnamon.
Ginger: Known to help relieve nausea and stomach queasiness, it seems to be effective against pain as well, thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of one of its active ingredients, gingerol. Some studies suggest gingerol works like aspirin and ibuprofen, which inhibit an enzyme that causes inflammation. In one recent study, a dose of 2 grams of ginger helped reduce post-exercise pain in the quadriceps (thigh muscle).
· Grate fresh ginger into quick bread batters and vinaigrette.
· Add chopped ginger to stir-fries. Sprinkle ground ginger on cooked carrots.
Oregano: Is thought to be one of the most antioxidant-rich of all foods. Oregano contains rosmarinic acid, a compound that appears to be a potent germ-killer as well as a powerful antioxidant. In fact, studies have shown the herb’s antioxidant oomph to be 42 times greater than that of apples, 30 times higher than that of potatoes and 12 times higher than that of oranges.
· Add 1/8 teaspoon dried to scrambled eggs, salad dressings, and store-bought or homemade marinara sauce.
· Sprinkle some on top of homemade pizza, and stir into black bean soup.
Parsley: Contains more vitamin C than just about any other vegetable – three times as much as oranges.
It also contains apigenin, an antioxidant compound that helps makes the platelets in the blood less sticky (and thus less likely to lead to a clot that causes a heart attack).
· Add chopped flat leaf parsley to meatballs and meat loaf, and to bulgur salad.