Cooking with Spices

Spices Taste Great and Are Good for You Too!

1102268_41002496A brief look at some popular spices used in cooking and their potential health benefits. Garlic, Onions, Cayenne, Ginger, Black Pepper, Tumeric, and Cinnamon.

Do you like spicy food, full of flavor? Well, there may be benefits from eating those spicy dishes, other than just great taste, that you may not have known. Garlic, peppers, onions, cayenne and other zesty spices and seasoning items actually have health benefits too. Let’s look at some of these popular spices and seasonings and see exactly what benefits they offer our health. The other great thing about spices is that you can take a basic recipe, basic piece of meat or fish or vegetables, and completely change the flavor, taste and experience of the dish with just a few spices.

Below are some of my favorite basic spices along with their potential health properties:

Garlic

We all know that there are tones of health properties of garlic, right? Of course, it keeps the vampires away! When vampires don’t bite you, you tend to stay healthy and alive a bit longer.

But in all seriousness, garlic has natural antioxidant properties that have been shown to help keep colds, flu, and certain other pesky viruses at bay. Natural garlic may also show some benefit in helping to clear up acne, as well as assisting in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

The down side to garlic is the overwhelming power of its smell, causing bad breath, yet ironically, garlic capsules have been found to actually assist with bad breath.

Onions

Any serious vegetarian will tell you that onions are one of natures most healthy creations. In addition, onions come in a variety of flavors and styles, as well as colors and shapes.

Onions have been shown to repel many insects, as well as possibly repelling colds, coughs, respiratory ailments, and might even have a beneficial effect on asthma. Much like garlic, onions contain certain sulfides, which may assist with lowering cholesterol levels.

Onions have also shown significant benefit in halting tumor growth in certain types of cancer, and seem to be especially beneficial to stomach cancer patients.

Cayenne Pepper

A very small amount (around 2 tsp.) of cayenne contains as much as 30% of the RDA of vitamin A. In addition, cayenne also contains vitamin C, manganese, fiber, vitamin K, and vitamin B6.

One ingredient in the make up of cayenne is capsaicin, also known as 8-methyul-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide. Capsaicin has been researched and studied extensively, and appears to provide mild pain reducing benefits, along with certain cardiovascular benefits, and might actually help prevent ulcers.

Cayenne has been used in many topical pain medications, to help alleviate pain. You can also find cayenne as an active ingredient in many over the counter weight loss formulas, and a cayenne tea is said to clear those stuffy nasal passages right up.

Ginger

Well known for Asian dishes, ginger is much more than just a root used as a garnish. A pungent flavor, and definitely an acquired taste, ginger actually has been used quite extensively in holistic healing.

Ginger teas can be sipped to fight off a cold. Why not chew on a little ginger root to help alleviate motion sickness? Ginger also seems to help settle the stomach, which is why old wives tales my recommend drinking Ginger Ale when feeling queasy.

Ginger appears to aid in circulation, and might actually help reduce the occurrence of heart disease.

Black Pepper

Every table in a nice restaurant probably has a salt and pepper shaker, and you might get lucky enough to have a waiter come and grind fresh black pepper on your salad or meal, but did you know that by doing so, you might actually be improving your health?

Black pepper has been shown to aid in digestion, so what better spice to add to your dishes than something that can actually help you digest it better?

Black pepper may also have antioxidant and antibacterial properties, along with tasting great.

Turmeric

Do you like Indian food? Well, chances are, your Indian dishes will contain Turmeric. This is great, especially if you are a man. You see, turmeric has been shown to have a significant effect on slowing the spread of cancer cells. However, it seems to specifically assist with prostate problems. Men, take your wives out for Indian food tonight, and know that you might actually be saving your prostate along with having a great and spicy meal.

Cinnamon

Recently, there has been a lot of research into cinnamon and its healing properties. Cinnamon seems to be directly related to helping control blood sugar levels. Diabetics are often instructed by nutritionists to add powdered cinnamon to just about any dish they eat, to help control insulin production through blood sugar regulation.

Additionally, many dietary weight loss supplement now contain cinnamon, because it is known that when blood sugar stays level, cravings are less likely, and when cravings are controlled, people generally will eat less, or at the very least, will snack less.

There you have it, a brief look and explanation of some simply spices and seasonings you can add to your dishes that just might help make life a bit healthier. As always, be sure to consult a physician if you have any health problems of concern, because this information is not intended as medical advice, but rather just some information about a few healthy spices that, provided you’re not allergic to them, might actually make your food taste better and you be healthier.

Happy cooking, and enjoy all the flavor that cooking with spices and seasonings can bring.

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