When you reach inside your spice cabinet, you probably aren’t thinking about boosting your heart health or about lowering your cholesterol. Depending on which herb or spice you grab, you might be accomplishing just that! Many of our common herbs and spices have hidden health benefits that can be put to work on our behalf. Some of the world’s oldest healing traditions hold these herbs in esteem; we’re now rediscovering what some cultures have known for generations.
This bright yellow spice comes to us from India where it is used in many different dishes. It is valued for its fragrant, earthy flavor and brilliant color. You can add turmeric to curries, soups, and even pasta salads. It is usually sold in dried, powdered form although it is now possible to find it in its whole root form. Turmeric is said to have anti-inflammatory properties, which are being investigated today by clinical studies.
A favorite spice of Chinese cuisine, this pungent ingredient is now used in just about any dish that calls for a bright burst of flavor. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is said to aid digestion and ease nausea. Many people use ginger tea to fight off cases of the cold and to ease symptoms of the flu. To use, purchase a portion of fresh root, grate or chop one teaspoon, then add it to one cup of hot water. Let the concoction sit for five minutes before drinking.
Enjoyed the world over for its earthy savor, garlic is an indispensable part of many people’s favorite recipes. Garlic can be minced or roasted to bring out is natural sweetness; add garlic to soup, stews, marinades, and other savory dishes. Clinical studies have investigated garlic’s beneficial effects on cardiovascular health.
Cinnamon is a must-have for many people’s favorite holiday treats, and it may also be a potent weapon in the fight against diabetes. Although more research remains to be done, cinnamon might help lower blood sugar levels. This would be a great benefit to people all around the world. Cinnamon is most frequently added to baked goods such as cookies and pies.
Not to be confused with sage brush, culinary sage is a frequent addition to savory meat dishes. Some people add it to soups and stews, as well. There is some interesting research being done suggesting that sage might help improve memory and preserve brain function in the elderly.
This spicy addition to barbeque sauces and chili pots may help curb the appetite; for this reason, you will often find it added to commercial weight loss supplements. Although you might have trouble eating enough of it to get this intended effect, this is an interesting bit of trivia to know about. However, if you have a serious taste for spicy food, you might give it a try!
Many people in the US are unfamiliar with this humble seed, although it is a common ingredient in Indian and other Asian cuisines. It ends a subtle sweetness to dishes without overpowering other herbs and spices. It can be used whole or lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle.
This green, pungent herb grows wild in many gardens. Rosemary can be used fresh or dried. Be careful not to use too much; it can cause the heart to race. This stimulating property makes it a beneficial herb for circulatory problems and cardiovascular health in general. Speak with a doctor, nutritionist, or licensed herbalist before using rosemary to treat any concern; it is a potent herb.
Humble, scrubby thyme is a staple in European cooking; it also happens to be a natural cough and cold remedy. Its natural chemical properties breaks up mucus and helps to expel all that nasty stuff. Inflamed lung tissue is soothed as excess mucus exits the body – all thanks to thyme.
These are just nine herbs with powerful healing properties. Try incorporating them into your cooking and enjoy the boost they give to your health.