Do you use spices regularly in your cooking? If not, you should start. Here’s why.
The Benefits of Using Spices
Not only do spices add a ton of flavor to your food, but they offer great health benefits. Here are a few ways spices are good for your health:
1. Aid Weight Loss
Spices can help to increase your metabolism, helping you to lose weight. For example, studies have shown that capsaicin (found in chili peppers), may cause the body to burn extra calories for 20 minutes after eating.
2. Improve Heart Health
Research has shown cultures that eat spicy foods have a lower rate of heart attack and stroke. This may be because chili peppers can reduce the damaging effects of bad cholesterol (LDL). Additionally, the capsaicin in chili peppers may fight inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease.
3. Protect Against Cancer
According to the American Association for Cancer Research, capsaicin has the ability to kill some cancer and leukemic cells. Also, turmeric (a spice found in curry powder and some mustards) may slow the spread of cancer and the growth of tumors.
4. Protect Against Diabetes
Inflammation and high blood sugar levels both largely contribute to diabetes. Spices can improve blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation, helping to prevent or improve diabetes.
5. Improve Your Mood
Spicy foods increase your body’s production of “happy” hormones, like serotonin, which can help lessen stress and mild depression.
How to Get Spices into Your Diet
Small amounts of both dried and fresh spices can provide health benefits, so don’t worry if you’re not a spicy food person!
Below are some easy and delicious ideas for using spices in your cooking:
- Put some slices of ginger or a pinch of cumin in a cup of hot tea
- Add chopped chili peppers to soups, stews and chili
- Coat shrimp in cumin and coriander and then sauté
- Grate fresh ginger into vinaigrette
- Add red pepper flakes or chopped ginger to stir-fry dishes
- Make chicken curry
- Sprinkle ground ginger on cooked carrots
- Add cumin to brown rice or red lentils
- Sprinkle ground cloves on applesauce or add to quick bread batters
- Sprinkle turmeric* on egg salad, add to a chicken or seafood casserole or add to water when cooking rice
*To absorb 2,000 percent more turmeric, pair it with black pepper
Start with the suggestions above and then let them inspire you to experiment with your own ideas. In no time, you’ll be a pro at using spices in cooking and will enjoy the great taste of your food, as well as the added health benefits.