Spices are a common staple in every household, but do you know the reasons behind why you’re using them? Yes, they make dishes taste delicious, but there’s much more to it. Throughout history, spices have been used in various cultures to treat illnesses and maladies, from cloves in ancient China for fresh breath, to ginger in 17th century England as an aphrodisiac. Today, many of the common spices we use have amazing health benefits, like increasing metabolism, taming inflammation and even preventing illness. Have we caught your attention yet? Here are just a few common spices and what they can do:
1) Garlic powder – One of the most common spices used in every kitchen next to salt and pepper. Having all the nutritional benefits of whole garlic, it’s great to use in rubs and marinades, or simply sprinkle on your food in place of salt. It helps to strengthen your immune system, lower blood pressure, and contains anti-fungal and anti-cancer benefits.
2) Turmeric – Well known to southeast Asia and the middle east, this spice has been used since ancient times for its medicinal values. Other than being naturally antibacterial, turmeric detoxifies the liver, and is a natural treatment for arthritis. It also is a potent anti-inflammatory, and works just as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs. You can sprinkle a little bit of turmeric on almost everything – it’s great in egg dishes!
3) Cumin – A relative of the parsley family, cumin also dates back over 5,000 years for its medicinal properties. It is high in iron and manganese, and can be used to prevent memory loss and aid in digestion. It has a strong flavor, and a little bit goes a long way. It’s popular in many middle eastern and mexican dishes!
4) Paprika – The medicinal benefits of paprika come from one main thing: Capsaicin. It’s the active ingredient in chili peppers that causes their heat, and has a laundry list of benefits. To name a few, it’s antibacterial, full of vitamins A, E, C and B6, and stimulates blood circulation.
5) Black Pepper – Did you know that pairing black pepper with turmeric will increase turmeric’s potency up to 200x? That’s because black pepper enhances the bioavailability of other herbs and spices and aids in transporting them to important parts of the body. It can be found in every kitchen, and it’s benefits are endless. Although it may seem simple, black pepper is great for your skin and stomach, aids in weight loss and provides relief from nasal congestion.
6) Cinnamon – One of the main properties of cinnamon is its ability to control blood sugar. It’s great to add to a fruit smoothie to help prevent a spike in your blood sugar. It also helps to rid the body of candida, prevent cancer, and aid in the prevention of tooth decay and gum disease. That’s quite a list!
7) Curry – Containing both turmeric and cumin, curry is a powerhouse when it comes to spices. Besides giving dishes an amazing flavor, it is known to help prevent alzheimers, reduce inflammation, reduce blood pressure and ward off osteoporosis.
We at The Tasteful Pantry love cooking with all of these spices (but not all at once!) and are fans of the idea of food as medicine. What is your favorite spice to cook with to create healthy, healing dishes?