First Aid Spices

They don’t just add heaps of flavour to our food, spices are chock-full of healthy compounds that have health benefits. Some fight inflammation, reduce damage to the cells in your body and some even boost your metabolism.  We’ve put together a First Aid list of beneficial spices to get you started.

Cardamom. You’ll know this sweet, pungent spice that is used in pumpkin pie, soup or fritters. Besides tasting great, it is known to settle an upset stomach may help fight inflammation. Of all the spices, cardamom is high in minerals like magnesium and zinc.

Chili peppers. You can add them fresh, powdered or dried to give your food a spicy kick. Chillies boost the metabolism and keep blood vessels healthy.   They contain more vitamin C than that found in an orange, as well as vitamins E and A.  The capsaicin found in spices derived from the pepper helps fight inflammation and can reduce pain associated with disorders such as arthritis and psoriasis.  Can also reduce congestion and relieve a stuffy nose.

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Cinnamon.  Think grandma’s warm kitchen with cinnamon cookies in the oven and the sweet aroma wafting through the house.  Low in calories, cinnamon can be added to anything sweet or savoury for a spicy twist. Sprinkle a bit in your tea or coffee and indulge. It’s a spice that can help with inflammation, it fights bacteria and free radicals that damage your cells.  It’s a spice that feeds the brain and body and is said to aid in healthier skin and brain function. It’s great for managing blood sugar and insulin levels so don’t hold back in adding it to fruits, sweet potatoes, oats, and other healthy carbs.

Set of spices (pepper, white pepper, black pepper, anise, caraway, coriander, cinnamon) in a wooden box.

Cumin. What’s a Durban curry without a healthy dash of cumin?  Naturally rich in iron it is said that it could play a role in weight loss if taken daily with a low calorie diet. It works well to improve digestion as one of its main compounds – thymol – aids in the production of bile, stomach acid, and digestive enzymes. Vitamin E in cumin acts as an antioxidant while the vitamin C found in cumin acts as an immune booster. Cumin is anti-congestive, antiviral, and antibacterial so it’s great for warding off infection or clearing up the airways while congested.

Garlic.  This really is nature’s cholesterol and high blood pressure fighter.  Garlic has a compound called allicin which has shown to lower your chances of developing heart disease. It’s also known as a natural antibiotic. To enjoy the benefits of garlic it is best to chop or crush the clove.

Ginger.  This is one of the easiest spices to use either fresh or ground, or as an essential oil. It’s a powerful remedy for tummy aches – just use it brewed in a refreshing tea.  Like turmeric, ginger is anti-inflammatory and can protect against stomach ulcers and treat menstrual cramps. It also relieves nausea and diarrhoea and ginger tea will help relieve flu symptoms. It’s also great for gut health.

Turmeric. This yellow spice is a good source of curcumin, an antioxidant that eases inflammation and can bring relief to individuals who suffer from rheumatic pain.  Curcumin helps heal leaky gut, improves digestion, and addresses autoimmune issues with inflammatory side effects.  To increase its absorption by the body, use turmeric with a dash of black pepper.

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