May 23, 2012

Have you checked your spice rack lately?

Variety is the Spice of Life
       When your mother told you to eat your fruits and veggies, I don't think she had spices and herbs in mind, but did you know that spices and herbs are botanically classified as fruits and vegetables.  In many cultures throughout history spices and herbs have been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.  Spices and herbs have a very high concentration of healthy antioxidants.  They can really pack a punch, arouse your senses, and give regular food a new twist.
   When you think of antioxidants usually you would think of richly colored fruits and vegetables, or green tea and dark chocolate. While that is true, spices and herbs can be added to that list.  They are rich in phytonutreants such as carotenoids, flavaniods, and other penolics, all of which contain health promoting properties.  Research has been and is being done on the examination of spices and herbs as support in decreasing inflammation, guarding against the effects of free radicals, and increasing metabolism which helps in the fight against weight loss. 
   The USDA has recognized seven spices and herbs for having the ability to diminish free radical damage and slow down the aging process.  Add these seven spices and herbs to your diet to support better heath and as an added bonus, better tasting food.

Cinnamon:  This spice has the highest level of antioxidants than any other spice.  Cinnamon as an amazing ability to act as insulin in the body and regulate blood sugar.  It can also help lower cholesterol.

Ginger:  1tsp of this spice has the equivalent of eating a cup of spinach.  It also has anti-inflammatory properties which makes it a natural pain reliever for everything from Nausea, arthritis, and migraine's.

Oregano:  Very high in antioxidants and carries an anti-microbial effect on bacteria and parasites.  1tsp of this herb has the same effects as eating 3 cups of broccoli and it can ward of the bacteria that causes ulcers.

Red-Peppers:  Dried up and ground into a spice, these peppers contain capsaicin which is an antioxidant that increases the sense of fullness and revs up the metabolism.

Rosemary:  This herb helps reduce inflammation in the body, it aids in heart health by protecting the blood vessels, and it is also a skin rejuvenator.

Thyme:  This herb is a respiratory ailment improver, supports the heart, and strengthens the immune system.

Turmeric:  This spice contains curcumin which inhibits the growth of cancer cells and protects against cognitive decline by stopping the growth of brain plaque the leading cause of Alzheimer's disease. 

Just remember, everything in moderation.  Large doses of certain spices can exacerbate other health issues.  So how much is needed to receive the benefits of these spices and herbs?  Many Doctors suggest just a dash will do and suggest adding a t1sp a day of one of these spices to each meal.  Good news is that unlike a lot of vegetables, spices do not loose their nutritional benefits when cooked.  Some research suggests that heat might even enhance the ability for the body to absorb them.   So go ahead, give your life a little spice!

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