There’s been a lot of buzz about healthy spices in recent years and research continues to back it up. Last month The BMJ published a study reporting that, “Compared with those who ate spicy foods less than once a week, those who consumed spicy foods 6 or 7 days a week showed a 14% relative risk reduction in total mortality.” On top of their own inherent health benefits, adding a little spice to your food makes healthy foods more appetizing and encourages us to use less salt.
We’ve rounded up 10 of the healthiest spices to expand your palette and turn up the heat on your meals.
1. Cayenne Pepper
Capsaicin is the magic substance that gives cayenne its kick and it’s also found in many pain relievers because it helps to alleviate arthritis and muscle pain. Studies have shown that cayenne pepper may suppress your appetite, help you burn more calories and decreases blood sugar.
Read Related: Skipping the Salt for a Low Sodium Diet: Using Herbs to Flavor Your Food
Curcumin gives turmeric its bright orange/yellow color and it makes turmeric one of the healthiest spices you can eat. It’s a powerful antioxidant that may ward off cancer, diabetes and heart attacks. Recent research has found that turmeric may help your brain and memory as well. And if that weren’t enough, it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Sage is another potential brain booster. Like so many healthy spices, it’s a great antioxidant and may also help lower blood glucose and cholesterol.
Ginger is especially good for digestion and helps to relieve nausea and gas. It fights bacteria and rhinovirus, improves circulation and it’s also an anti-inflammatory.
Saffron has been used medicinally for centuries so that tells you something. It’s been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors, ease depression, improve vision and ward off heart disease.
Cinnamon doesn’t just make cookies taste delicious, it also improves brain function and may help to with Parkinson’s Disease. It’s also great for regulating your blood sugar.
Rosemary contains carnosol, which studies have found may destroy cancer cells and help to prevent tumors. It also contains carnosic acid, which has shown promise for treating Alzheimer’s.
A world without garlic would be a much sadder and blander place but garlic doesn’t just make almost everything taste better, it’s also been used medicinally for ages. It boosts immunity, improves physical performance and stamina, reduces blood pressure and lowers cholesterol.
It’s easy to forget that herbs and spices can be nutritious. Oregano, in particular, is a great source of potassium, zinc, iron, protein, calcium, magnesium and fiber. Oregano oil can also be used topically to fight infections.
Cumin can actually help kill bacteria in meat and other foods. It also contains curcumin, is rich in iron and helps control blood pressure.