7 Spices With Hidden Health Benefits

January 17, 2015
by Karen Belz for Thrive Market
7 Spices With Hidden Health Benefits

If you like spicy food, you'll love this news: Certain spices not only add a bunch of flavor, but have been proven to be very beneficial towards your overall health.

Here are a few favorites that can boost both the flavor of dinner and your well-being.

1. Cardamom

It might not already take residence in your spice cabinet, but it's a pretty handy spice to have on hand. Not only is it known for its aroma, but black cardamom is often used to up the smokey flavor of meat. It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, and cardamom is popular as a flavoring for coffee in the Middle East.

Here's the really good news: Cardamom is often used in alternative medicine to treat digestive problems, and it's been been tentatively linked to anti-tumor activity.

2. Cinnamon

Obviously cinnamon isn't a spicy spice, but it definitely reminds you of the holidays — which should be beneficial enough, especially when you're feeling in need of some holiday cheer. You probably have some cinnamon lying around, as it's common in baking. It also gives a
new life to black beans or coffee, if you're feeling creative.

Not only does it taste good, but cinnamon is well known for its antioxidant properties. It’s also been shown to affect glucose sensitivity.

3. Cumin

Cumin makes a great addition to chili, hummus and really any dish you want to kick up a notch. Not only does cumin help spice up your dinner, but it'll help you digest it as well! Cumin has been known to help with everything from irritable bowel system to indigestion.

4. Chili pepper

If you dig food with a bit of heat, you've probably depended on the help of a chili pepper once or twice.

The spicier the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. Capsaicin is actually what gives the pepper so much intensity, and it has loads of health benefits.  Pain relief, heart health, and fighting prostate cancer are just everyday tasks for our friend capsaicin.

5. Oregano

Oh, oregano. You're my favorite spice of all. Not only is oregano a delicious way to add some Italian flair to a dish, it's also remarkably good for you. One active agent in oregano is rosmarinic acid, a strong antioxidant that helps support your immune system. Oregano has one of the highest antioxidant activity ratings, even beating out apples and blueberries, which usually get all the credit. Studies show that oregano might also be beneficial for conditions including osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis.

6. Ginger

There's a reason that we always seem to gravitate towards ginger ale when we have an upset stomach, and it's because ginger is famous for helping cure nausea. It'll also help fire up your digestion and aid with joint pain and flatulence.

7. Garlic

Health coaches and doctors have often advised patients to eat more garlic, but don't worry — it doesn't mean you have to suffer through eating bulbs the way you would an apple.

Garlic can be used in so many recipes, from pizzas to chili. When you hear that it could help prevent cancer, you might be more willing to include a bit of garlic in with your roasted veggies. Garlic truly is the miracle spice, as it can help with so many ailments. Some have sworn by its ability to help with coughs and fevers, and others apply garlic oil to their skin during the night to treat fungal infections, warts, and corns. Certain scientists even believe that garlic might have a role in preventing food poisoning, as well. Is there anything garlic can't do?

Photo credit: Christian Millan

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This article is related to: Cinnamon, Garlic, Ginger, Spices

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