Spice up your Life

5 January 2012 @ 8:41 pm |

Spice Up Your Meals for Health

Have you ever stopped to think about the spices in your pantry, beyond the great flavour they impart onto your food? Herbs and spices, much like fruits and vegetables, devoid of advertising campaigns, show tremendous promise in the prevention and maintenance of good health. Spicing up your meal could mean more than just adding a bit of flavour and feeling more satisfied; a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that adding spices, such as turmeric and cinnamon, may protect against the harmful effects of eating meals high in fat or calories.

Typically after eating a high-fat meal triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood are increased, but researchers from Penn State found that adding spices to a high-fat meal reduced the triglyceride response compared to a similar spice-less meal.

We’re all trying to eat healthier this year and so here are some of Select Stores’s favourite spices.

Ginger is not just great in stir-fries; it exhibits antioxidant effects and the ability to lessen the formation of inflammation in the brain (similar to turmeric). Gingerol is the compound responsible for ginger’s many benefits, including the ability to significantly help with nausea, vomiting, and morning sickness. It is a powerful antioxidant, and is thought to relax blood vessels, stimulate blood flow, and relieve pain.

Rosemary, the pine-like herb, offers anti-inflammatory protection to the delicate human brain and is thought to improve concentration. In winter, a rosemary bush inside the house acts as a natural air freshener and “cleaner”, along with being convenient for cooking. Rosemary halts gene mutations that could lead to cancer, and may help prevent damage to our circulatory system, thereby reducing risk for cardiovascular complications.

Sage does more than just season the Thanksgiving dinner; in fact sage is thought to be a great brain food. A British research team looked into sage’s therapeutic properties and memory and found that those who consumed sage oil performed significantly better at memory tests than the placebo. The sage group also demonstrated improvements in both immediate and delayed word recall scores, and reported improved mood.

Here’s another reason to enjoy your favorite Indian curry which typically contains turmeric, a deep yellow/orange colored spice that has been used for countless centuries, not only as a spice but also in traditional Asian medicine as a healing aid. Traditional medicine has “prescribed” turmeric to help gastrointestinal problems, arthritic pain, and a lack of energy; in recent years, scientists have found that the polyphenol curcumin (responsible for turmeric’s color) may protect and heal due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties are also thought to benefit blood flow to the brain; inhibiting and reducing plaque build up, thus showing promise in the prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The addition of spices can benefit the taste of almost any food. Add some chili pepper, cumin or turmeric to mashed potatoes, rice or quinoa. Sprinkle oregano or rosemary on salad or use it directly in the dressing, and try sprinkling yogurt with cinnamon and ginger. Herbs and spices can be added to virtually any dish. However you choose to do it, adding spice means adding a wealth of health benefits and flavour.

Do note that herbs and spices can sometimes cause trouble for allergy sufferers as anti-caking agents are used in some brands and may contain wheat or other allergens. Check the brand websites for more information, but do keep in mind that most reputable brands should be allergy friendly

Leave a Reply