Spices. They are used to add flavor to food, but did you know they are also medicine? Historical records show that spices have been used as medicine for at least 4500 years. Modern scientific research is discovering the many benefits of these tasty foods, and why they are traditionally used to both flavor food and treat disease. It turns out that spices are a delicious and sensible way to improve health!
Cinnamon is a familiar seasoning. Its marvelous when sprinkled on a hot beverage, makes a baked apple taste like pie. Cinnamon also is very healthy. It can help reduce cholesterol in a similar, but milder, way as common prescription medications. It can raise the ‘good’ cholesterol, and lower the ‘bad’ cholesterol. It can help lower blood pressure, and it is great for diabetics or people that are pre-diabetic. When people eat cinnamon every day, their fasting blood sugar (a test for diabetes) improves. Eating about ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon a day is a great start, and quite delicious. Try it with some yogurt, or sprinkled on other food!
Curry is remarkably healthful blend of spices. There are many kinds of curry, but most contain turmeric. Turmeric is a brilliant yellow and well-researched spice, and is used to improve health and help many conditions. Eating curry in a meal only once a month has been shown to reduce the incidence of dementia! If you eat it more then that, even better. Turmeric can help reduce the pain of arthritis and improve digestion. Like cinnamon, it helps improve cholesterol and can reduce fasting blood sugar. There are many expensive turmeric supplements available, but you can also simply eat the spice with food and get benefits. Try it in a stir-fry, or put ½ tsp in your next smoothie!
Cumin helps balance cholesterol and speed up metabolism, like our other spicy friends. Additionally, it improves the function of your immune system when you eat it regularly. Eating cumin can help balance your stress response, so that you can stay healthy even when your life is challenging. Cumin is great for your digestion, and helps with many problems like nausea, gas, and indigestion. Cumin is a spice that is sometimes found in curry, and is an essential ingredient when making chili. It is also used to replace black pepper; whenever you would use black pepper, give cumin a try! It does taste a little different, but it is delicious and has been enjoyed for thousands of years.
Andrew Litchy, ND