It’s no doubt that dozens of natural spices hold powerful anti-inflammatory healing properties but are often less used and only seen as flavour enhancers. Certain healthy natural spices may even help prevent chronic diseases. In every home, people use their own spice mix to flavour thier meals. A kitchen without spices is like a football field without a goal post, but with the right amount and kind of spices, ordinary food can become delicious and irresistible. So, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to add lots of flavour to your meals, natural spices should be your best option.
Turmeric is one of the world’s most healthiest spices. It’s known for its ability to fight depression, treat wounds, colds and infections. It’s available in local markets, in it’s fresh, dried and powdered forms. Turmeric gives distinct tastes to soups, stews, smoothies and brewed teas.
According to Dr Michael Greger, Author of “how not to die” , he concludes that; In recent years, more than five thousand articles have been published in the medical literature about curcumin, the pigment in turmeric that gives it that bright yellow color. Many of these papers sport impressive-looking diagrams suggesting that curcumin can benefit a multitude of conditions with a dizzying array of mechanisms. But since the turn of the century, more than fifty clinical trials have tested curcumin against a variety of diseases, and dozens more studies are on the way.
We have seen how curcumin may play a role in preventing or treating lung disease, brain disease, and a variety of cancers, including multiple myeloma, colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer. But curcumin has also been shown to help speed recovery after surgery and effectively treat rheumatoid arthritis better than the leading drug of choice. It also may be effective in treating osteoarthritis and other inflammatory conditions, such as lupus and inflammatory bowel diseases. There’s evidence to suggest that the cooked and raw forms may have different properties. Cooked turmeric appears to offer better DNA protection, while raw turmeric may have greater anti-inflammatory effects.
Black pepper originated from South India and is used in almost all of the world’s cuisines.It’s readily available in local markets for purchase in it’s dried or powdered form. It’s a very peppery spice so just a pinch of it can enhance the flavour of any dish and It’s usually added to pepper soup to give it a unique scent and taste. It contains vitamin A & C, carotenes, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Black pepper aids weight loss, fights cancer, indigestion, allergies, respiratory tract infections, depression, vitiligo and even skin wrinkles.
According to Dr Michael Greger, Author of ” how not to die“, he concludes that; about 5 percent of black pepper by weight is composed of a compound called piperine, which accounts for pepper’s pungent flavor and aroma. Black pepper and turmeric work wonders when mixed together. Within an hour of eating turmeric, curcumin appears in your blood stream, but only in small traces.Why only scant amounts? Presumably, your liver is actively working to get rid of it.
But what if you suppress that elimination process by eating some black pepper? If you consume the same amount of curcumin but add a quarter teaspoon of black pepper, the level of curcumin in your blood shoots up by 2000 percent. Even just the littlest pinch of pepper, just one-twentieth of a teaspoon, can significantly boost curcumin blood levels.
Cinnamon is a popular and sweet spice which has one of the highest antioxidant values compared to other spices. It’s the oldest and it comes from the bark of a tropical evergreen tree and has proven to possess anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It’s a good source of iron, manganese and calcium. It was used in ancient times as a preservative and an embalming agent.
There are two kinds of cinnamon, the sweeter Ceylon cinnamon and the more common Chinese cinnamon (cassia). They are available in local markets around you in sticks and powders. They are often used to add distinct flavours to baked goods, stews, soups, porridges and protein shakes. This spice has shown to be good for the heart and it prevents the proliferation of cancer cells. It burns fat, stops menstrual pain, alleviates nausea, lowers blood sugar and blood triglyceride levels.
For centuries, ginger roots has been widely used as a zesty spice all over the world and it’s valued for it’s anti-inflammatory medicinal properties. You can buy it in powered form or as a fresh root in most markets. It’s used in many cuisines and homes for flavouring dishes and pastries. It can also be sliced, grated or eaten raw. For a powerful immue boost, add fresh grated ginger to teas, porridges, soups and vegetable stews. Research has found that ginger has the ability to prevent and slow down the growth of cancer, combat infections, inflammations, menstrual cramps, headaches, indigestion, cold and flu, sore throat and reduce pain and swelling of arthritis patients.
Garlic is known for its pungent flavour and it belongs to the Allium family. It has been used for several years in flavouring foods as well as traditional medicine for different ailments due to its essential oils and medicinal components such as allicin, a sulfur compound. The entire “head” is called a garlic bulb and each segment is called a clove. There are about 10-20 cloves in a single bulb of garlic. It’s sold in the market in bulbs or powdered form.
You can use fresh garlic whether it’s chopped or grounded to flavour almost any savoury dish. It can be added to soups, stews, porridges or sprinkled on roasted veggies in small quantities because of its strong flavour.
The Anti-inflammatory properties of garlic have been proven to fight off cancer, ease arthritis symptoms, combat common cold, reduce blood pressure, detoxify heavy metals in the body and helps to lower the risk of heart disease. Garlic is full of anti-oxidants and it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which can repel ticks and even fight off yeast infections.
Clove is an aromatic spice which contains anti-inflammatory chemicals called eugenol. It’s found in several places around the world, such as Asia and Africa. They’re often sold in local markets. The dried flower buds or the clove plant has a unique sweet smell and a pungent taste which is often used only in small quantities. The Powdered clove works well in baked goods and can be used to spice up variety of meals, like porridges, stews, soups, pepper soups and it’s infused in cold and hot drinks including teas.Cloves has been proven to starve cancer cells, reduce the risk of heart disease, slows bone and cartilage damage, fight bacteria infections, ease toothache, treat upset stomach, nausea and inflammation of the throat.
Rosemary is an aromatic peppery spice which has been used extensively as a medicinal herb and it’s commonly used in many cuisines and homes to create tasty savoury meals. They can be bought at local markets around you. It’s a rich source of antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system, improves blood circulation, calms troubled stomach, fights joint pains, depression, common cold, stress and anxiety, promotes hair growth and enhances one’s memory. Laboratory studies have shown rosemary to be rich in antioxidants, which play an important role in neutralizing harmful particles called free radicals.
Now you know how amazing these health promoting spices are. Frequent use of the right quantity of any of these natural anti-inflammatory spices can add unique flavour to your meals and also improve your overall health.
Daniella Obuwan Oshiame is an experienced freelance health & nutrition writer who is passionate about the plant-based lifestyle and everything Vegan.