Spice It Up

Looking to put a little more spice into life? Well, why don’t you start with these 10 herbs, roots, and plants that benefit your health as much as they do your taste buds!

1. Chili Pepper: Add some heat to your dish with the chili pepper. Chili’s contain a fiery substance called capsaicin which has a number of medical and health benefits including pain relief, heart health, ulcer reduction and cancer cell reduction. What is the hottest pepper…try the Habanero or Scotch Bonnet!

2. Cinnamon: Maybe you already know this, but cinnamon is obtained from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree. This aromatic and intoxicating spice boasts a wonderful flavor which can accent a number of foods…all from the sweet to the savory. Cinnamon also lowers blood-sugar, triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol in people with Type II Diabetes.

3. Turmeric: This brightly colored, flavorful spice actually comes from the same family as the ginger root and contains curcumin.  Curcumin has been shown to prevent cancer cell growth as well as help reduce arthritic inflammation, very similarly to ginger.

4. Parsley: Wait…do we actually eat that stuff? I thought it was just a garnish!  Yes, eat it up! First of all, parsley has been known to help with bad breath. Also, since the days of the early Romans, many proclaim that parsley can help pass kidney stones, battle deafness and prevent arterial build-up.

5. Oregano:  A recent study revealed that, gram for gram, oregano has the highest antioxidant activity of 27 fresh culinary herbs. Additionally, oregano contains thymol and carvacol – two antibacterial agents that help fight infection. You can easily grow this herb at home, too!

6. Garlic: Mmmmm…garlic.  Your partner may not like the after-effects, but garlic is an amazing health booster. Research shows that the many phytochemicals in garlic can actually destroy cancer cells. Garlic has also been used throughout the centuries for its antifungal and antiviral properties. I’ve heard that given the onset of a cold, some folks will eat warmed garlic spread on a piece of toast to wake to significantly improved symptoms the very next day!

7. Thyme: Thyme has a fairly strong flavor and pairs well with many winter foods like soups and stews.  It is also known as a powerful antiseptic and antibacterial as some studies have shown thyme to be effective in killing MRSA infections which are otherwise resistant to antibiotics.

8. Ginger: This incredible root decreases nausea and motion sickness and can ease overall digestive discomfort as well as indigestion.  Ginger may also help alleviate pain and swelling associated with arthritis. Ginger is used world-wide in a number of dishes and drinks and is available as a powder, fresh root, paste or pickled. If you want to see if ginger can help alleviate tummy troubles, sip on some herbal ginger tea with 2 drops of cinnamon Stevia…yum!

9. Coriander: This annual herb is also known as cilantro. Like most spices, coriander contains antioxidants which are not only healthy for the body, but actually help to delay the spoilage of seasoned foods. This special herb has been known to help lower cholesterol and has been used in treatment of diabetes.

10. Paprika: This brightly red-colored spice is made from the grinding of dried bell and chili peppers and therefore contains capsaicin, which has anti-inflammatory effects, lowering the risk of cancer and other degenerative illnesses. Paprika also contains super-high levels of Vitamin C as well as other antioxidants.

Kick that deep-frier to the curb and embrace all of the many health-boosting and flavor-enhancing benefits of these top 10 spices!