Those holiday spices don’t only make our food taste good, they are so good for us! Spices are full of phytonutrients and concentrated antioxidants. They are like tiny vegetables that help make your food tasty. Don’t forget how they flavor our drinks too! While you are drinking your pumpkin spice latte or chai tea you are also unknowingly spicing up your health. Make sure you are getting the real deal with the spices, so you can get the awesome advantages that have been used throughout history. That artificial cinnamon flavor might give you warm fuzzies, but it’s not giving you the health benefits.
What kind of benefits? There are so many spice bonuses with over 100 spices used throughout the world, but ones that your grandma cooked with, or you find used locally, are full of perks too. Those antioxidants and micronutrients are great immune boosters that help with a variety of ailments. I can’t tell you all the many advantages, but let’s start with a few for 5 of my favorite spices and a recipe to go with them.
Health Benefits of Spices
1 – Cardamom
Cardamom is full of phytonutrients including the trace mineral manganese, which help make it a healthy spice. In a study of prediabetic subjects, it was shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Cardamom can help you battle bad breath as a natural killer of bacteria and yeast. Those anti-microbial qualities and antioxidants also help boost your immune system. It also helps support the digestive system and has been shown to be cancer-protective.
2 – Cinnamon
Cinnamon adds a kick of flavor to everything from apple pie to gum and its flavor comes with perks. Why do you find it in so many gum flavors? It’s great for killing bad breath. It has also been found to be anti-inflammatory. Studies have shown that cinnamon can reduce blood glucose and cholesterol.
3 – Clove
Cloves are full of nutrients and antioxidants that bring immune boosting benefits from their antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. There’s more! Cloves also have been shown in studies to support the liver health and protect bone mass. Cloves have lots of fiber and go great with winter recipes.
4 – Peppermint
Peppermint can be a great addition to your healthy cocoa and holiday treats. It is well known for helping clear those airways or helping soothe a sore throat during a cold. Peppermint is also good for nausea, digestion, and other stomach concerns like flatulence. Researchers are finding it is beneficial for IBS, which can bring relief for many sufferers. You can use peppermint essential oil on your temple for headaches. You can also steep a nice bag of peppermint tea to warm your belly.
5 – Nutmeg
Nutmeg shows up in so many holiday recipes and it has a long list of benefits that come from all of its nutrients including magnesium, folate, iron, potassium, and vitamin C. A little of this spice will you’re your mood and will help put you sleep well after all of the holiday excitement. It also has been found to be a pain reliever and promoter of brain health.
Spice Up Your Holidays – Spice Up Your Health
Did you know your spice rack was so full of healthy benefits? There is a reason these foods make so much sense around the holiday time. With all the digestive issues, stress, insomnia, colds, and flu your body needs all the support it can get this time of year. Spices can bring a nutritious punch while bringing flavor to dishes we have enjoyed for generations.
By Dr. Jordan Biertzer