Health Benefits of Spices

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When you hear the suggestion to add a little spice to your life, one way you can do so, and benefit your health, is by actively using and learning about the benefits of spices. Today I’ll be exploring spices health and beauty benefits and sharing uses and properties of common spice offerings.

Spices for Immunity and Metabolism
The use of mouth-watering, flavorful spices is a smart and easy way to boost your immune system. They are particularly helpful in the fall and winter months when colds and flu germs are running rampant. For centuries spices and herbs have been thought of as medicine and used accordingly. Certain spices actually offer particular immune boosting properties. When it comes to revving up your metabolism, Capsaicin is a top choice for raising the internal temperature in your body. Hot peppers are loaded with it, but a rather large quantity is needed to actually help speed weight loss.

Spices for Beauty
Way before the store shelves were jammed with an overwhelming number of skin care products to choose from, natural herbs and spices were used to treat skin issues and to maintain a healthy and radiant complexion.

Spices are easy to find in every grocery store and offer a flavor boost to many dishes while adding vivid color and no or very few extra calories. Common spices and their health properties include:

*Cinnamon: Its antibacterial properties make it a natural preservative for foods and it can aid in controlling blood sugar levels. Also a good source for stimulating blood circulation, cinnamon aids in digestion and can have positive effects on ailments including nausea and diarrhea. There are two general types of cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon, called true cinnamon and grown mainly in Sri Lanka and Madagascar, and cassia cinnamon, which generally originates in Indonesia and China. Don’t over do it with cassia cinnamon, as it contains the blood thinning agent coumarin, and if you are pregnant consult your doctor before consuming cinnamon, period.

*Turmeric: This vividly colored spice can be beneficial both internally and externally. Gives skin a natural glow (add a tiny pinch to your evening moisturizer and wash off in the morning) and offers non-chemical protection from UV rays. It bestows a toning effect on the skin and is a natural anti-aging remedy. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and supports healthy joints. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties it is said to help prevent heart disease and may help protect against Alzheimer’s. It’s delicious sprinkled on salads, rice or cooked with chicken or fish dishes, and a pinch in your morning green smoothie will provide all day benefits.

*Garlic: Allicin, a compound in garlic that holds super antioxidant powers, was found to be a monumental free radical deflector in studies by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Ontario Ministry of Innovation. Researchers found, through experiments with allicin produced synthetically, than an acid is produced when allicin decomposes quickly and reacts with free radicals. Garlic is a powerful immune booster, too, and black fermented garlic, which has grown in popularity over that pasts few years due its exposure on television cooking shows, is said to contain over twice the antioxidant power of raw white garlic.

*Black Pepper: This well known spice stimulates your taste buds and fat burning cells to help you stay trim and provide needed energy. It promotes the absorption of vital nutrients in the body, therefore assisting in boosting overall health. With its high potassium levels, black pepper can help control blood pressure and keep your heart rate steady. Black pepper is also helpful for water retention as it supports sweating and urination. If at all possible grind your black pepper from fresh corns for optimal flavor and health related benefits.

*Clove: While the aroma likely reminds you of the holidays, cloves can be enjoyed anytime of year. You can drop them into soups or stews or use an onion studded with them in a simmering pot. (Remember to remove single cloves or the clove studded onion before consuming the food.) Cloves have both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial traits. The essential oil of clove is an analgesic, and it can be helpful with gum and toothache pain. (Always consult your medical professional before using.)

If you haven’t been incorporating spices before now, it’s time to get on the spicy bandwagon. Your food will likely taste better and your health stands a chance of improving…what more can you ask for??