Since ancient times, people have been using herbs and spices for their healing properties – effects that many modern scientific studies have confirmed. Rich in phytochemicals, such as antioxidants and polyphenols, certain herbs and spices can help combat many of the diseases prevalent in Western societies today, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
Below, we’re going to tell you about the potent health benefits of some of the most common herbs and spices you’ve probably already been using to add flavor to many of your home cooked meals.
Probably one of the more commonly used spices in recipes from tea to quick breads, cinnamon carries a potent punch of health benefits in as little as one half to two teaspoons per day. The antioxidants found in cinnamon can calm inflammation and lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides. However, this ancient spice seems to be most beneficial to diabetic patients, as it can lower fasting blood sugar levels up to 29 percent, heighten insulin sensitivity, and slow the breakdown of carbohydrates.
Do you have difficulty remembering people’s names? Feel like you’re constantly misplacing your stuff? Studies have shown sage can improve cognitive abilities including memory. Sage has even been shown to improve brain function in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, as this herb prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine – a vital neurotransmitter in the brain that degrades in Alzheimer’s sufferers.
What is more soothing than a cup of hot peppermint tea in the early morning? If you’ve ever breathed in the refreshing peppermint steam rising from this warm beverage, you won’t be surprised that peppermint has been shown to relieve nausea. If you’re pregnant, in labor, or recovering from a C-section or any other surgery, the cooling aroma can help calm queasiness. Peppermint has even been shown to relieve pain in people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Low-level or chronic, systemic inflammation has been linked to a wide variety of Western diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin which has been shown to reduce inflammation as effectively as certain anti-inflammatory drugs. Along with reducing the risk of many Western ailments, curcumin defends the body’s tissues against free radicals, may improve cognitive function, and calm arthritis.
Ever wonder what gives hot peppers their heat? The concentration of capsaicin in peppers is what spices up some of your favorite dishes. But chili peppers aren’t just flavorful, they’re beneficial to your health too. Studies have shown capsaicin can curb appetite and rev up metabolism, aiding weight loss. Some animal studies have even shown the spicy compound may have anti-cancer properties.
Expecting mothers, chemo patients, and seafarers can all benefit from the nausea-calming effects of the ginger root, which can also fight inflammation and manage pain. If you have a family history of colon cancer, ginger extract may help reduce certain indicators of inflammation of the large intestine. To fight pain and loosen stiff joints associated with osteoarthritis, ginger mixtures can act in much the same was as NSAIDs (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen).
Sneezing a hundred times a minute, crippling headaches, puffy eyes, and difficulty breathing are just some of the pleasant symptoms people suffering from seasonal allergies can look forward to during the blooms of spring and summer. However, rosemary may allow these people to stop and smell the roses, as the compound rosmarinic acid has been shown to cut congestion and calm the allergic response.
Clearly, herbs and spices add more than just flavor; they provide vital micronutrients and phytochemicals essential for healthy body functions. You don’t have to take a spoonful of each, however, to reap their many health benefits. Just cook with a variety of plant-based flavors!
If you’d like to spice up your dishes, check out our USDA-certified organic sweet and savory coconut oils. And you’ll probably need a refreshing beverage to go with those meals, so try our organic instant herbal super teas, which can be added to hot or cold water.
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