Health benefits of your favourite spices
You add them to curries, sprinkle them on vegetables and add them to drinks. But did you know the everyday spices you use are actually good for your health? We’ve rounded up your favourite spices that have more health benefits than you would think.
Perhaps the oddest-looking spice, ginger is a pungent spice which is said to relieve nausea and settle stomach problems such as sickness and diarrhoea as it soothes the digestive tract. Ginger is also a natural antihistamine and decongestant making it an effective relief from cold and allergy symptoms. It is also said to reduce pain and inflammation due to its natural anti-inflammatory properties. To incorporate ginger into your diet, try sprinkling some ground ginger on to roasted root vegetables.
This bright yellow culinary spice has, like ginger, anti-inflammatory properties. From the same family as ginger, this curry classic is said to relieve the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other bowel conditions. It is also believed to have anti-ageing properties, so some use it as a paste on their skin. If you want to leave it to food alone, then try adding some black pepper as this is said to help the body absorb turmeric’s properties. To add some turmeric into your cooking try adding some to water when boiling rice.
Cardamom has similar health benefits to ginger, including being a digestive aid. It stimulates digestion and can calm gasses, fluid retention and acids in the stomach – which could relieve heartburn or stomach cramps. Due to its cleansing properties, this aromatic spice is sometimes effective in addressing urinary tract or kidney infections as well. Cardamom pods are a great addition to biryani recipes.
The benefits of this seed go beyond its rich and warm flavour, as it is rich in iron, has antioxidant properties and is rich in phytochemicals which are said to inhibit cancer cell growth. Like many spices, cumin is also said to aid digestion and calm bloating and excess acid in the stomach. A common curry essential, cumin has antioxidant properties helping it to support the body’s immunity.
This vibrant spice is known for improving circulation in the body and banishing bruises and dry skin. Saffron has also been used to treat depression in some cases. Containing carotenoids, this red-gold spice is considered beneficial to vision and eye health. Saffron can easily be cooked with rice to incorporate it into the diet, while also adding some vibrancy to your cooking.
Chilli peppers’ defining feature is their spiciness, which lends a kick to many popular dishes such as curries. Chillies are popular for their heat, but they could also be good for your health too, as it is thought that chilies can help boost the metabolism and immune system. They also contain vitamin C and, in certain varieties, carotene. Finely chopped, they can be added to garlic and onions when making a basic sauce.
Both the seeds and the tea are known to help with digestive problems and so are often used to alleviate bloating and constipation. The tea, therefore, is thought to help manage irritable bowel syndrome.
Fennel is also very effective for reducing the symptoms of the common cold as it can be soothing to sore throats and can relieve congestion. The aromatic seeds can easily be added to stock or to yoghurt to make a fragrant dip.
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