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If you were in pain, would you head to the spice rack before the medicine cabinet? Do you get your supplements from a pill or from the flavoring in your meal? Experts are suggesting spices as a way to add flavor and health benefits to your meal. These spices can ease inflammation, prevent damage from free radicals, help with weight loss, and regulate blood sugar. Find out the delicious way to stay healthy with these bold flavors.
Turmeric, an ingredient in curry, may help ease inflammation and help with arthritis. In fact, it’s been used as an anti-inflammatory for thousands of years in India, either eaten with butter or milk, or applied topically when mixed with oil. A study conducted by Arjuna Natural Extracts followed 30 people with arthritis and showed that curcumin, the part of turmeric that gives it its yellow color, could better treat arthritis than some prescription anti-inflammatory medications.
This is wonderful news, because the spice comes without the threat of liver damage, gastrointestinal bleeding, heart disease, and stroke that is associated with anti-inflammatory medications. However, until a larger study is done, the results should be taken with a grain of salt (figuratively – salt isn’t one of the healthy spices). The study was very small, was conducted by a company that sells curcumin, and didn’t include a placebo or control group. Even so, it is unlikely that turmeric would cause you harm, so add more turmeric to your diet if you have pain from inflammation.
The spice, which is in the ginger family, may also help to prevent or treat cancer. A study from Calcutta, India, found that eating curcumin made chemotherapy in breast cancer patients more effective. Another study found that it could help to prevent head and neck cancers, but the turmeric intake caused study participants’ teeth and mouths to turn yellow (the color of the spice). Despite the color change, the health benefits are a great reason to head to that Indian restaurant and try a new curry dish.
Cinnamon is a tasty way to get your antioxidants and regulate blood sugar levels. The sweet spice contains iron, calcium, manganese, fiber, and antioxidants. This is a super spice for those with diabetes: a study conducted at Thames University found it may help to regulate blood glucose and blood pressure in those with Type 2 diabetes. Another study from Kyung Hee University in Seoul, Korea, found that cinnamon increased insulin sensitivity and helped hyperglycemia in mice. The blood sugar regulating properties can be beneficial to dieters, too.
Adding cinnamon to coffee, tea, cereal, fruit, or any food that you would normally add a sweetener to may eliminate the need for that sugar or sugar substitute. Surprisingly, Reader’s Digest reports that two teaspoons of cinnamon contain more fiber than a half-cup of raw cabbage or bell peppers. It is made from bark, after all. Add it to your morning toast or shake it into applesauce or yogurt. Just don’t consume too much: it can be toxic in high doses.
You may have heard about capsaicin from advertisements for arthritis supplements. It has been shown to reduce pain when applied topically, but it has other health benefits when eaten. The capsaicin in hot chili peppers burns your mouth and calories: a study from Purdue University found that consuming chili peppers suppressed appetite and burned more calories after the meal. The effects were greater in those who did not eat the spice often. A 2009 study from the University of Maryland found that the spice helped with fat loss in the abdominal area, possibly because it may alter the protein in the fats.
Cumin has many of the benefits of cinnamon, plus a little antibacterial bonus. It is a good source of iron and it has lowered glucose levels in animals. Black cumin can reduce inflammation in joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis, or at least it has in animal studies so far. In addition to these benefits, cumin can kill bacteria that is linked with stomach ulcers. Add cumin to Mexican dishes or chili to reap the flavor and health benefits.
Got a cough? Ginger has anti-tussive properties, which is a fancy way of saying that it will help stop coughing. Like many of the other spices, it is an anti-inflammatory and can help relieve arthritis pain. A study published in the Journal of Pain found that regularly consuming ginger helped to ease pain caused by exercising, so sip some ginger tea after the gym, or add sliced fresh ginger to stir fries. There’s a reason why people reach for ginger ale when they are not feeling well: ginger is also known to settle stomachs and prevent nausea.
Next time you’re looking for new recipes, try to find ones that include curry, cinnamon, hot peppers, or ginger. These spices are a delicious way to ease pain, lose weight, regulate blood sugar, and prevent future diseases.