We’ve talked about how flavoring your food is a necessary step to cooking, how herbs add healthful flavor, and how different seasonings can allow you to achieve more variety of flavors and reduce your need for salt. This week, we want to highlight the benefits of our favorite spice staples! There are definitely a lot more spices worth keeping in your cabinet, but these five heavy hitters are packed with nutrients and a great place to start:

01 Garlic

Garlic comes from the onion family and is composed of just about all the healthy nutrients we need! It is extremely low in calories and very flavorful, making it a great addition to most recipes. Here’s a tip: after slicing garlic, use fresh lemon juice to remove the lingering smell from your hands!

  • Flavor Profile:
    • When raw, garlic has a strong spicy flavor, but upon cooking, the flavor softens and sweetens up a bit.
  • Health Facts:
    • Garlic is said to decrease blood pressure and reduce the number of common colds by 63%. In addition, garlic contains vitamin b6 and C, as well as fiber and protein. It can improve cholesterol levels, improve longevity, and detoxify the body of heavy metals too!
  • Uses:
    • For the most healthful benefits, opt for fresh garlic, instead of the pre-bottled and pre-chopped versions. Add to homemade pizzas and baked chicken, as well as soups, stews, and veggie dishes.

 

02 Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been a long-time medicinal spice and dates back to Ancient Egypt, where it was considered rare and extremely valuable. It’s found on the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree. Today, cinnamon is more common and thus cheaper and easier to find!

  • Flavor Profile:
    • Sweet and woody, with a little spice
  • Health Facts:
    • Cinnamon is loaded with powerful antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, can lower blood sugar, and can reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Uses:
    • Add cinnamon to oatmeal and herbal teas, or to warm up spicy stews and curries.

 

03 Turmeric

Turmeric, the main spice in curry, is a root, most commonly used in Asian food. Its vibrant yellow coloring comes from a chemical called curcumin, which is often used as a natural dye to color food and certain cosmetics, but has its own health benefits too! Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Flavor Profile:
    • Warm and Bitter
  • Health Facts:
    • Turmeric is used as a natural pain reliever, both when ingested and used topically. It fights inflammation which leads to types of cancer, chronic pain, and heart problems. It can improve brain function and decrease the risk of diseases of the memory while giving your mood a little boost!
  • Uses:
    • Add ground turmeric to egg scrambles, roasted vegetables, rice, soups, teas and more!

 

04 Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper stems from the bell pepper family and is a hot chili pepper used in spicing up certain types of food, but did you know it also has incredible health benefits?

  • Flavor Profile:
    • Hot, Sharp, and Pungent – floral and spicy
  • Health Facts:
    • Cayenne pepper can calm an upset stomach and ease coughs, sore throats and ulcers. In addition, it can assist in detoxifying the body and can be used as a topical remedy to treat bites, sores, and wounds.
  • Uses:
    • Can be used fresh or dried, but makes a great spicy addition to sauces, dips, soups and anything you want to pack a punch!

 

05 Cumin

Cumin is a plant originating in South Asia with seeds (both whole and ground) that are used in flavoring dishes. Interestingly enough, cumin is a member of the parsley family!

  • Flavor Profile:
    • Earthy, Nutty, and Spicy
  • Health Facts:
    • Cumin can regulate digestion, as the main component of its oil is an ingredient called Cuminaldehyde. Cucuminaldehyde increases the production of saliva which facilitates digestion. Cumin also can prevent diabetes as it helps to regulate blood sugar. In addition, cumin is said to help with insomnia, asthma, and bronchitis, as well as the treatment of the common cold.
  • Uses:
    • Add to curries, chilis, stews, meat and vegetable combos. Cumin is also used in taco seasoning!

Read Next:

Foods that Fight Inflammation

Sage Advice About Seasoning

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