Spices and herbs have healed ailments through medicinal folklore for thousands of years. Nowadays, scientific research supports the healing powers of herbs. Although spices don’t fully cure health problems, many can relieve symptoms: from stomach pains to swelling to high cholesterol. Adding certain spices to your diet can create a noticeable difference in memory or digestive health. Most people don’t know that they already have superfood spices inside their cabinet at home. See which of these spices and herbs you should be sprinkling into your meals.
Do you know which spice is a classified superfood you can add to almost anything?
Cinnamon Significantly Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
A popular kitchen spice, cinnamon contains a compound called cinnamaldehyde, which uses powerful antioxidants to reduce inflammation and cholesterol. But cinnamon out-performs other spices in lowering blood sugar. Studies show that cinnamon can reduce up to 29% of blood sugar in diabetic patients.
Full benefits can appear in as little as half a teaspoon to two teaspoons of cinnamon per day. Since cinnamon adds natural sweetness, you can sprinkle it in smoothies, coffee, oatmeal, meats, and even grains.
Thyme Combats Unhealthy Bacteria, Fungi, And Even Insects
Time to discuss thyme, a Mediterranean herb with several uses. Its compound thymol can destroy harmful organisms, such as bacteria. A study from 2010 reports that thymol lowers bacterial resistance to common drugs, making infections easier to treat.
Researchers at Chungbuk National University in South Korea found that thymol contributes to killing tiger mosquito larvae, which carried yellow fever to many victims. Thyme also has antimicrobial properties, making it an antifungal. Thyme primarily appears in soups and pasta but also tastes delicious on eggplants, tomatoes, grilled meats, and potatoes.
Turmeric, The Super Spice
If you’ve eaten any curry powder, you’ve tried turmeric before. Turmeric contains a low amount of curcumin, which makes it a natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Turmeric increases a growth hormone in the brain, which improves memory and decreases the chance of brain diseases. It also helps the endothelium, which is the lining in your blood vessels, making it beneficial for the heart.
Unfortunately, curcumin isn’t absorbed well in the bloodstream, but eating turmeric with black pepper can increase its effectiveness. Turmeric is also a flexible spice–from chicken to quinoa to soups to vegetables, you can sprinkle it on almost anything.
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Peppermint Assuages Bowel Pains And Nausea
Long used in folk medicine and aromatherapy, peppermint contains healthy oils that help relieve stomach pain. Studies demonstrate that peppermint relaxes muscles in the colon, reducing pain, bloating, and even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In one study, over 1,000 women in labor were given peppermint aromatherapy, and most felt less nauseous afterward.
Smelling peppermint essential oil can reduce nausea, though peppermint oil should never be consumed or rubbed on the body (cosmetics containing essential oils are heavily diluted, which makes them safe). You can also drink peppermint tea, or add dried peppermint flakes to coffee grounds and pastries.
Oregano Can Kill Superbugs
The ancient Greeks used to use oregano as an antiseptic. It turns out, they weren’t far off. Oregano contains carvacrol, which works as an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. One study, which won an award from the United Nations in 2008, discovered that oregano essential oil could ward off the superbug MRSA with its antibacterial strength.
Research published in the journal PLoS ONE suggested that compounds in oregano could help prevent breast cancer and diabetes, though this study has yet to be supported. For its antibacterial properties, though, you can toss oregano into bread, marinades, salads, and even omelets.
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Cayenne Curbs Your Appetite
Cayenne is a type of chili powder included in spicy dishes. At least six studies have shown that capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne, lowers one’s appetite and increases fat burning. However, people who were used to spicy foods didn’t experience this effect, implying that tolerance of cayenne builds over time.
Some animal studies have linked cayenne to cancer prevention, but this has yet to be confirmed in humans. Cayenne adds a kick to any soup, meat rub, veggie dish, or tofu.
Saffron Can Brighten Your Day
Due to its labor-intensive harvesting, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, with one pound costing $500 at minimum. Saffron is also called the “sunshine spice,” as in a review of five studies, researchers found that eating saffron daily brightened the moods of those with mild-to-moderate depression. In the same vein, saffron also boosts libido.
Women taking 30 mg of saffron a day were found to have less intense PMS symptoms, including headaches, irritability, and cramps. You can draw out saffron’s flavor by soaking the threads in hot (not boiling) water. Hence, saffron commonly appears in rice, risottos, and milk.
Parsley Provides The Largest Dose Of Vitamin K
A standard restaurant garnish, parsley also contains one of the highest concentrations of myricetin in plants, which blocks cancer-causing chemical compounds. Parsley provides us with an enormous amount of vitamin K, which strengthens bones. Just one cup of parsley equals 1,230% of an individual’s recommended daily vitamin K dose.
Some researchers propose that parsley could have a hand in preventing diabetes as well. To add more parsley into your meals, you can consider adding it to ravioli, quiche, pasta, guacamole, stuffings, and salads.
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Paprika Beefs Up The Immune System
Paprika packs a punch as an antioxidant. Its compound, beta-carotene, protects the skin and respiratory system. Other ones, called zeaxanthin and lutein, improve eye health and halt molecular degeneration. So it’s no surprise that a 2016 study suggested that paprika could ease symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
In addition, research from Japan demonstrates that paprika’s anti-inflammatory effects help fight gastric cancer and eye diseases. It lowers blood pressure, strengthening your heart. Depending on how it’s dried and prepared, paprika could taste smoky or savory. Use paprika in salsas, egg dishes, curries, pork, and even sweet chocolate desserts.
Black Pepper Assists With Weight Loss
Pepper is ground from a dried plant-derived spice known as a peppercorn. While there are several different types of peppercorns, most households carry black peppercorns. Black pepper breaks down fat cells, which helps with shedding weight.
According to the Oregon Health & Science University, pepper’s piperine content also benefits the skin, decreasing our risk of skin cancer. Pepper also relieves nasal congestion, especially when boiled in a stew or soup. Along with spicing up almost any meal, black pepper can contribute to teas, specifically ayurvedic tea that assists with weight loss.
Can you guess which commonly grown herb enhances memory?
Ginger Soothes Tummy Aches And Pains
You may have been advised to drink ginger tea when nauseous. That’s because several studies have proven that just one gram of ginger can effectively reduce nausea. Ginger also works as a strong anti-inflammatory, soothing pain and stiffness.
You can buy dried or candied ginger if you want to pop some while nauseated. Asian rubs and sauces often include ginger, but it also tastes fantastic in stir-fry, marinades, soups, vegetables, and even certain beverages. You can also find ginger in many different teas.
Rosemary Sharpens Memory
Commonly seen with chicken and lamb, rosemary is as healthy as it is tasty. One of its ingredients, carnosic acid, fights off damage in the brain, which sharpens memory and concentration. Rosemary is also rich in antioxidants, which boost immunity and suppress nasal congestion and allergy symptoms.
Rosemary is easy to grow and should be crushed with a mortar and pestle before adding to most dishes, as the needles become sharp and hard to remove after cooking. Pasta, gnocchi, rice, and fish all taste great with a little rosemary.
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Garlic Fights Off Illness
Along with tasting delicious, garlic has been used in cooking recipes for hundreds of years for its medicinal properties. One 12-week study discovered that garlic supplements reduced cold symptoms by 70%, and decreased one’s chance of catching a cold by 60%. Several other studies have stated that garlic lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Other findings show that garlic detoxifies lead in the body and enhances athletic performance, even being given to ancient Greek Olympic athletes. You can easily add garlic to almost any dish–it smells delicious with onion.
Basil Reduces Swelling
Most Italian, Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese cuisine include basil. While you can find several different types of basil, all provide incredible health benefits. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society reported that Holy Basil could reduce swelling and inflammation up to 73%. This can also be used to treat arthritis and IBS.
According to research, basil can also prevent free radicals from damaging the brain, liver, and heart, granting basil anti-aging properties. Basil is most commonly found in pesto, on pizzas and salads, in soups, and with seafood dishes.
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Cumin Supports Healthy Digestion
Nutty, earthy and warm, cumin is best known for promoting digestion. For instance, some studies suggest that cumin increases the activity of digestive enzymes, or releases bile from the liver which breaks down nutrients in your gut. In one study, 57 patients with IBS reported assuaged symptoms after consuming concentrated cumin for two weeks.
As well as being rich in iron, cumin also enhances weight loss, according to some studies. Cumin is a staple in most curry powders, and also adds great flavor to chili, stews, fish, meat, lentils, and vegetables.
Bay Laurel Sweeps Out Toxins From The Body
The herb used to crown ancient heroes can also settle upset stomachs and respiratory ailments. The enzymes in bay leaves can smooth digestion and remove toxins from the body, even prompt urinating or vomiting when needed.
The Phytotherapy Research journal published a study explaining that parthenolide, a phytonutrient in bay leaves, quickly reduces inflammation in swollen joints. Some of its chemicals even alleviate dry skin and dandruff. When you cook with bay leaves, put them in the pot at the beginning, as their flavor takes a while to seep into the dish.
Mustard Cleanses The Digestive Tract
Mustard is actually a vegetable that’s dried and used as a spice. Researchers note that mustard clears out the digestive tract by binding cholesterol. It also relieves aches and spasms muscles, including hiccups. Mustard cleanses the body of toxins, especially those built up by narcotics or alcohol.
As a decongestant, mustard seeds clear sinuses and mucus buildup. It’s also packed with magnesium, which can help with asthma. Along with our classic table mustard, mustard seeds also season dips, chicken, rice, sausages, and salad dressings.
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Fenugreek Helps Insulin Function
While not commonly seen in the west, fenugreek often adds flavors to Indian curries and salads, as it has a nutty, maple taste. One of fenugreek’s proteins is 4-hydroxyisoleucine, which improves the hormone insulin, which in turn regulates blood sugar levels. It can even increase libido and benefit milk production in new mothers.
Fenugreek should not be taken while pregnant, however. Otherwise, you can take fenugreek in a capsule or tea. The flavor appears in longer cook times, primarily if you use the seeds, so you’ll want to roast or bake them near the beginning of the recipe.
Nutmeg Gives Us Healthy Smiles
You’ve probably tasted nutmeg in sweet dishes such as eggnog and pumpkin pie. For generations, people have mixed nutmeg into warm milk for its ability to relieve insomnia and deepen sleep. A couple of studies illustrate that nutmeg contains antibacterials that relieve tooth decay and toothaches.
Nutmeg also eases digestive problems, such as diarrhea. A 2012 study suggests that it could provide antidepressant effects as well. Outside the holiday season, you can combine ground nutmeg with vegetables (especially spinach), custards, punches, curries, fruit, and sauces.
Cardamom Heals The Heart
Cardamom is a seed that seasons foods with a mild, earthy flavor. Compounds in cardamom have been observed to protect against heart inflammation and viral infection. This likely has to do with its ability to stabilize cholesterol and body fat.
Studies demonstrate that cardamom lowers blood sugar, making it ideal for lessening adverse symptoms of pre-diabetics. Chinese medicine has employed cardamom to soothe digestive issues for centuries. Cardamom is popularly added to coffees, pastries, chocolate desserts, and teas around the world. The seeds are difficult to grind, so you may want to buy cardamom as a powder.