Many people believe that spices are chemically produced flavourings that are solely for adding taste, aroma and colour to food. In fact, many think of spices as the cause of lifestyle conditions.
On the contrary, apart from very few processed ones found in supermarket shelves majority of spices potentially improve and maintain health. They are also used for seasoning purposes and optimise one’s health.
Both spices and herbs are plants parts known to preserve food, cure illness and enhance cosmetics. They fall within the category of anti-inflammatory foods because they are rich in phytochemicals. Inflammation is suspected to play a key role in heart disease, cancer, arthritis, asthma, allergies and more.
Herbs have great medicinal value and come from the leafy and green part of the plant. They include:
- Mint: This herb helps with digestion, can ease hicsups and for asthma treatment.
- Parsley: Is high in vitamin C and Iron. Parsley protects against rheumatoid arthritis. Boiling Parsley and drinking its juice is effective for kidney cleansing, as it passes kidney stones, and prevents build-up in the arteries.
- Thyme: It contains thymol oil, which is helpful for chest and respiratory problems (relaxes respiratory muscles). The oil also acts as antiseptic and disinfectant. This herb which is part of the mint family, can help suppress inflammation.
- Rosemary: Is rich in antioxidants, and has significant antifungal and antibacterial activity. It has been studied for its ability to interfere with yeast infection growth.
- Sage: A natural antiseptic and antibiotic.
- Oregano: Helps soothe stomach muscles.
- Dill: Treats heartburn, colic and gas.
- Basil: Can relieve gas and soothe stomach upsets.
- Fennel: Can reduce bad breath and body odor.
Spices are parts of the plant other than the leafy bit such as the root, stem, bulb, bark, flower, fruit or seeds. Some examples are:
- Cinnamon: Lowers blood sugar levels, bad cholesterol and triglycerides especially in people with type 2 diabetes. Sprinkle a couple to your coffee or tea for effect.
- Cloves: Have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiseptic properties; they are known to relieve flatulence and can help promote good digestion as well as metabolism.
- Ginger: It relieves heartburn and bloating. It can also reduce inflammation in arthritis patients. Ginger has properties that bring relief for cough and congestion from cold or the flu. Ginger extracts can also help reduce nausea caused by morning sickness or following surgery or chemotherapy.
- Pepper: Contains capsaicin, which puts the heat in chillies. This lowers the risk of skin and colon cancers. It also lowers the risk of ulcers by boosting the ability of stomach cells to resist infection by ulcer causing bacteria.
- Tumeric: Turmeric is high in curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Garlic: Natural antiseptic.
- Fenugreek: Helps flush out harmful toxins.