As well as having numerous health benefits herbs and spices are the perfect addition to many dishes. They add depth and flavour to you cooking, thus reducing the need for added salt and sugars. As science and technology develop, we are gaining a much better understanding of the powerful health benefits of herbs and spices. These benefits can range from improved cardiovascular health, improved immune system and potentially help improve overall sense of wellbeing.
Turmeric is native to India and southeast Asia. The spice comes from the root of the plant Curcuma Longa. In its raw root state it is very similar to ginger. It is commonly dried and powdered and has a wonderful rich yellow colour.
Turmeric contains Curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin is a powerful anti oxidant and is known to increase the body’s own production of antioxidant enzymes. Curcumin is so effective it is considered as effective as some anti-inflammatory drugs! Just to get a better understanding, almost every chronic disease in the west has long term, low level inflammation as a major contributing factor.
Studies suggest Curcumin can relive arthritis, reduce the risk of heard disease and cancer and improve the function of the brain.
Garlic is not strictly a herb or spice, but an allium vegetable and belongs to the same family as onions and leeks. Although its not a herb/spice, I feel as if I really need to add it to the list due to its endless health benefits. Garlic has long been associated with its potential to reduce the risk of Cardiovascular disease, studies have now gone further to suggest that each of the following conditions are included, Heart attack, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.
Ginger belongs to the same family as Tumeric and posses many of the same health benefits too. It is native to south east Asia and is used to add a distinct, refreshing flavour to cuisine.
Ginger works as an anti-inflammatory, the highly active anti-inflammatory compounds found within Ginger are called gingerols. It is believed to help reduce the symptoms of Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is also believed to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation as a result of training. So if for no other reason than you push hard in training, it is well worth adding ginger to your diet.
Other possible health benefits of ginger include boosting of the immune system, easing an unsettled stomach and preventing nausea and even protection against Colorectal cancer.
Cinnamon contains numerous antioxidants. Antioxidants reduce free radical damage within the body and slow down the ageing process! Studies show that there up to 40 proactive compounds found within Cinnamon. This compounds reduce oxidative stress, which can ultimately lead to cancer, brain disorders, heart disease and other health conditions.
Cinnamon is also an anti-inflammatory thus reducing swelling and inflammation as well as reliving pain, reducing muscle soreness, PMS as well as reducing the effect of allergic reactions.
Paprika is another spice rich in antioxidants and contains a high level of active compounds. These compounds are understood to prevent damage from oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Paprika may prevent or reduce the risk of some cancers, potentially be useful in the treatment of diabetes, improve cardiovascular health and prevent damage and disease to the eyes.
I hope this very brief insight in to these 5 powerful spices/herbs has been useful. Even just adding a little into your existing diet can potentially have some astonishing health benefits.
Thanks for reading, TK-Fitness Cardiff