Spices with health benefits

spices with health benefits

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.

Healthy, On-The-Go Summer Snacks

healthy summer snacksSummertime means long days packed with activities that will have you constantly on the go. Whether you’re shuttling kids back and forth to camp or planning full-on family road trip, it’s a safe bet that you’ll clock more than a few hours behind the wheel this summer.

But should more car time mean more fast food? Absolutely not. Instead, stock your ride with healthy, non-perishable items that can stand up to the Texas heat. Eating low-calorie snacks packed with nutrients and fiber will help you maintain your healthy eating habits throughout the season.

If you crave a salty crunch, potato chips are likely your biggest snack temptation. Do yourself a favor and keep them out of reach when you’re on the go. Instead, keep a few well-portioned baggies of nuts in your car or purse this summer. Nuts contain protein, fiber, nutrients and healthy fats to keep you feeling full longer. Unlike the empty calories you’ll find in a bag of Lay’s, a small handful of pistachios, walnuts or almonds provides plenty of vitamins and nutrients to fuel your summer fun. Plus, this satisfying treat has the wherewithal to stand up to a few hot afternoons in the car.

Granola offers a semi-sweet, satisfying crunch without the added sugar and calories of a few cookies. With heart-healthy whole grains and protein to keep you lean, granola is an easy snack to toss in the car without any worries about melting. Granola bars can also do the trick if you stick to brands with limited additives.

Many brands of organic fruit snacks offer a low-calorie treat made with real fruit juices. Our favorite? Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks are naturally gluten-free, vegan treats packaged in individually wrapped portions for easy storage and snacking. Better yet, reach for dried fruits that keep well in hot weather, like banana chips or dried mango.

There’s always a way to eat healthy, even in the busiest (and hottest) of months. With a little forethought, you’ll avoid wasting time, money and calories on unhealthy foods if you’ve got other convenient snacks within reach.