Five Healthy Spices and How to Use them


Today, back home in Minnesota, I am sitting in my sister’s downtown Minneapolis real estate office, watching it … rain, and then hail, and then rain some more outside. Strange, but it’s made more pleasant as I am also nose-deep in a cinnamony chai tea. I’ve taken to adding cinnamon to my tea, coffee and certainly my hot chocolate.

In general, I have a heavy hand when it comes to spices. This is largely due to being a sensory person, well, and aren’t we all? Spices enhance the color of foods, and they create those enticing aromas that get our tastebuds dancing. In fact, 70-75 percent of our taste is attributed to what we smell, which means when you have that nasty cold, go ahead and put more than a dusting of that beautiful and bold cayenne pepper into your soup. Doing so may also offer an array of health benefits.

Read on to learn more about five “big bang for your buck” healthy spices, a brief description of what they can do for your bod, and a recipe featuring each one.

1. Cayenne Pepper

Reader’s Digest reveals that this spice that packs a punch can help your achy joints, act as a decongestant, reduce your blood sugar levels and aid in better circulation.

Pre-breakfast: this lemon and cayenne pepper water from Healthy Crush will get you in gear

2. Ground Ginger

The Guardian cites ginger as the spice that assuages tummy troubles and soothing inflamed joints as “Gingerols, the potent anti-inflammatory compounds found in ginger, appear to reduce the pain, and improve the mobility, of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.”

Breakfast: This baked carrot cake oatmeal from Oh She Glows is packed with Gingery goodness.

3. Cumin

Our oft cited health and wellness blog Mark’s Daily Apple lists a number of potential health benefits of cumin, including being an anti-glycation agent, an antioxidant and an anti-osteoporotic.

Lunch: Try this delightful winter wheat berry salad from My New Roots.

4. Turmeric

Webmd reports a lengthy list of ailments that turmeric does battle against. Most notable is that turmeric is used for arthritis (it is an anti-inflammatory spice), heartburn, headaches, colds and is even considered a cancer-fighting agent.

Dinner: a little bit of India at your dinner table with Channa Masala from Eat, Live, Run

5. Cinnamon

In the 2008 November/December edition of Nutrition Today, Keith Singletary, PhD, writes, “The scientific literature provides emerging evidence that cinnamon may have health benefits, particularly in improving problematic blood glucose regulation that is a consequence of type 2 diabetes and obesity. There is suggestive evidence that cinnamon may improve blood cholesterol concentrations in humans and lower blood pressure in rats. Preliminary evidence in cell culture studies suggests that cinnamon contains antioxidant constituents and possesses anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.”

Dessert: calling all pumpkin lovers for this Pumpkin Maple Custard from Against All Grain.

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About Jamie Bacigalupo

Having first traveled from her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to live in Quito, Ecuador, she decided to give the East a run and is now a resident of Shenzhen, China. She earned her degree in Communication Arts/Literature and Communication and Secondary Education from Gustavus Adolphus College and is enthusiastically exploring Asia by teaching abroad. She digs hanging out with her students by weekday, and relishes finding new restaurants to eat authentic Chinese food and finding new hiking paths on the weekends. In addition to sticking her nose in a book to recover from an intense workday, Jamie also loves exploring all manner of flavors in the kitchen, especially when she is whipping up some recipes for her friends and family.

1 thought on “Five Healthy Spices and How to Use them

  1. I’ve had turmeric in my spice cabinet for the longest time, but the last time I had a cold and read about its benefits, I used it in everything I was making- soups, chilis, with sautéed vegetables- and I was back to normal in no time. I swear by it now!

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