It’s not just fruits and vegetables that can help improve your health – spices are also potent ingredients that can boost your wellbeing as well speed up your metabolic rate and assist you in your weight loss goals! Here are five of my favourites…
This spice is arguably the most powerful on earth and has been proven to help fight and potentially reverse disease thanks to the presence of the healing compound curcumin. There are loads of scientific studies which reference curcumin and, when compared to conventional remedies, its benefits often equal that of some pharmaceutical medicines! As well as being anti-inflammatory, turmeric also curbs fat growth, reduces blood sugar, fights infection and protects the liver.
This medicinal root has been used by the Chinese and Indians to treat ailments for over 4,700 years, so there must be something to it! It actually comes from the same plant family as turmeric, which may explain why it’s so powerful. Its super qualities are a result of the chemical compound gingerol – this oily resin is a very strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Ginger can be used to boost the immune system, can lower blood sugar, combat nausea, fight indigestion, metabolise your food and prevent bacterial infection (in fact, a study in 2011 compared the ability of ginger to kill a staph infection with conventional antibiotics, and researchers discovered that ginger won every time!). It is also known to lower cholesterol, helps PMT and protects against disease.
Be sure to spice up your life with these hotties! Chillies contain lots of chemical compounds that are known to help stave off disease. One of the most recognised of these is capsaicin which is what makes your food so spicy! This particular compound is also known to have anti-bacterial and anti-carcinogenic properties and has been found to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in obese people. Chillies contain oodles of vitamin C, and this is required for the synthesis of collagen, which in turn is the main structural protein needed to maintain healthy blood vessels, skin, organs and bones. Chillies also aid digestion, can relieve some migraines, speed up metabolism and are a great source of vitamins A and E, beta-carotene, folic acid and potassium.
This yummy spice has been a medicinal powerhouse for thousands of years and I put it in everything from my oats to my coffee! Its distinct smell and flavour comes from the oily bit of the tree that it grows from, while the health benefits actually come from the bark, which contains compounds such as cinnamic acid. It’s not only a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic, but also helps to boost the immune system and protect the heart. Research shows that its antioxidant properties can help to fight against developing neurological disorders too. Plus it can also help lower cholesterol!
This is perhaps the most pricey spice in the world today! Saffron has long been in demand, even during ancient times, because its benefits are two-fold. Not only does it make food tasty, but it’s also a fantastic dye for clothing (if you ever come into contact with it, make sure you wash your hands afterwards!) Saffron was also used in ancient times as a mood lifter and today studies have been done which suggest that it could help combat depression. The spice has also been known to relieve symptoms of PMT, such as mood swings and depression.