Spice of Life
Dear Dr. Terri K: I read that some spices have health benefits. Which ones do you recommend? – TINA
Tina: Recent studies have confirmed that herbs and spices are strong antioxidants and potent inhibitors of tissue damage and inflammation caused by high levels of blood sugar. Here are a few healing and savory spices to get you started:
Ginger has historically been used in alleviating nausea and other symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. It is also beneficial for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Fresh ginger, with its pungent aroma, can be put into smoothies or a vegetable stir fry.
Turmeric, often called “Asia’s aspirin”, has been used for years in the Traditional healing systems in India and China. It is a potent antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties which may prevent heart disease and cancer, and even protect against dementia. It can be taken in pill or powder form, and is one of the ingredients to make curry.
Cayenne and Chili peppers have a high concentration of a substance called capsaicin which has been widely studied for its pain-reducing effects, its cardiovascular benefits, and its ability to help prevent ulcers. Capsaicin also effectively opens and drains congested nasal passages, helps improve cholesterol levels and has been linked to weight loss. If you can tolerate spicy foods, then add cayenne or rice dishes and sauces.
Cinnamon has been used as a spice and as medicine for years. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Many studies have documented cinnamon’s ability to control/decrease blood glucose levels which may be helpful for diabetics. Its wonderful scent is also reported to boost brain function.
Saffron, cited in ancient texts for treating up to 90 illnesses, has now been linked to slowing the growth of tumors and alleviating mild depression. In Indian traditional medicine, it used for treating bladder, kidney and liver disorders, and also diabetes. An expensive spice, just a touch in your rice dish will give it flavor and a wonderful aroma.
Adding spices to your diet is a low-cost, low-calorie way to enhance your meals. Note that spices lose their antioxidant potency over time so discard them after two years. Honor your body through the Power of Choice it will repay you with energy and vitality!
Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA.
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