Spices and herbs are some of those most exciting elements of the culinary world. Each brings with it a richness in taste and aroma that is very unique to that specific element, and together they can make any bland dish feel like a celebratory feast. Not that you need any more reason to stock up your shelves with spices and herbs, but it is good to be aware of the fact they are a nutritional powerhouse, and their health benefits to our body should not be underestimated.
Let’s look at 5 such herbs and spices that everybody should be adding to their meals:-
Behind its stunning yellowish orange appearance and a warm and gingery aroma, turmeric exuberates a plethora of nutritional benefits. It contains a powerful compound called curcumin which gives it potent anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, research has shown its effects to be comparable to those of anti-inflammatory drugs like hydrocortisone…..and that too without the toxicity generally found in such pharmaceutical drugs. Turmeric can be used to treat Inflammatory Bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Because of the powerful antioxidant properties Curcumin possesses, it can neutralize free radicals very effectively. This is very important because it is these harmful chemicals that cause inflammation in the joints, in cases such as arthritis and other joint diseases.
Curcumin even provides aid for cystic fibrosis sufferers by hindering the release of calcium, which then allows the excretion of the mutated protein CTFR, through calcium channels from the cells. This also suppresses the accumulation of mucus in lungs. When it comes to preventing cancer, turmeric protects our DNA from damage caused by free radicals. If not stopped and destroyed, the mutated cells can proliferate exponentially, causing the cancer to spread. Curcumin not only destroys these mutated cells, and suppress its proliferation, but it also enhances the functioning of our liver. Also, it hinders the production of a specific protein that is necessary to nourish the cancer cells by supplying it with blood.
Sage has a long and rich history of being a medicinal herb, with ancient Egyptians even calling it a fertility drug. Among many other things, sage contains a phenolic compound called rosmarinic acid, which is easily absorbed from our stomach. This compound has anti-inflammatory properties, which is great for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. The stems and leaves of sage contains many antioxidant enzymes, which includes Superoxide dismutase and peroxidase. All of these compounds work together to stabilize and prevent oxidative damage of cells. In fact, it even prevents oils from oxidating.
When it comes to brain, sage is boosts memory and other cognitive performances. In case of Alzheimer’s, for example, memory loss happens when there is an increase in the activity of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. Sage can suppress its activity, and its potency is comparable to many prescribed AChE inhibitors.
The luscious scent is not the only thing refreshing about this herb, rosemary actually contains compounds that strengthens our immune system, improves our blood circulation and stimulates the functioning of our digestive system. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which is great for relieving inflammation in conditions like arthritis, as well as lowering the intensity of asthma attacks. By increasing the blood flow to our brain, rosemary helps improve our cognitive functions as well. The antioxidants in it keeps us away from diseases, and prevents the formation of cancer causing agents.
Apart from adding a spicy and zesty flavor to dishes, ginger is gold when it comes to what it can do for our body. It has been shown to curb our appetite and promote weight loss. When it comes to our GI Tract, ginger can prevent motion sickness, and feeling of nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Its anti-vomiting powers are especially useful during times of pregnancy. Much of its potency can be attributed to compounds called gingerols, which with its anti-inflammatory properties helps alleviate the discomfort of those suffering from arthritis. When it comes to fighting cancer, research shows that ginger suppresses the proliferation of colorectal cancer cells, and kills the ovarian cancer cells.
Saffron is highly valued, and its price is reflective of that. This spice contains a plethora of medicinal benefits. It is very rich in manganese, which helps stabilize our blood sugar, and break down carbohydrates. It also stimulates the absorption of cacium. Manganese helps in the formation of sex hormones, bones and tissues. Saffron is loaded with Vitamin C as well, which off course is an immune booster. It contains iron which helps with oxygenation and Vitamin B6 that helps in the formation of erythrocytes, and keeps the nerves functioning properly. The potassium in saffron makes sure that our intracellular fluid levels remain balanced.
In the comments below, please share with us what your favorite spice is, and which out of this list do you have in your kitchen right now?