Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spices have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine and are now being 'discovered' by Western medicine.  A wonderful source of phytochemicals, which are plant compounds with amazing healing properties, spices deserve a prominent place in your pantry.


CINNAMON - An anti-inflammatory that can help alleviate pain and stiffness.  It effectively lowers blood sugar and reduces the need for higher levels of insulin.  A study published in Diabetic Care showed that cinnamon could help lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in Type 2 diabetics.

OREGANO - It has 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples and 12 times more than oranges.  It contains a powerful cancer-fighting compound called rosmarinic acid.  It is also an anti-inflammatory and is a source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and potassium.

GINGER - In Ayurvedic medicine ginger is known as the "universal medicine".  Ginger has been used by Chinese healers for thousands of years to fight nausea - even seasickness.  Animal studies show that ginger has anti-microbial effects and helps boost the immune system

   ROSEMARY - Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, rosemary can help memory and promote healthy brain function.  

TURMERIC - It's anti-inflammatory properties are because of curcumin which makes curry dishes yellow.  In India turmeric is used for treating arthritis.  Research also indicates that it may have anti-tumor effects.  It is often used in place of the expensive saffron to impart a yellow color to dishes.  Try it in scrambled eggs or any rice dish.  

THYME - This can help relieve chest and respiratory problems.  Along with rosemary and sage, thyme is what makes the house smell great at Thanksgiving, but use them often to make food taste wonderful.

Although the doses of some spices used in research are higher than you would use for seasoning, it would seem logical that frequent use in food preparation would be beneficial.  Of course, fresh spices are best, but if you use the dried ones be sure to buy them in small quantities and replace them often since they age - even as we do.

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