Spice it Up!

Many people are addicted to fast food because it’s loaded with salt, sugar, and fat.  At the same time, they are reluctant to eat home-cooked meals that they find less satisfying.  The key to wanting to eat the healthy meals you cook yourself is to make them taste good, and the best way to do that is by using plenty of herbs and spices.  Not only will they help you avoid adding excess salt, sugar, and fat, they also offer added health benefits.

Herbs, like oregano and basil, are the leaves of the plant; spices, like ginger or cinnamon, are usually made from the seeds, berries, bark, or roots of the plant.  In either case, they are concentrated sources of antioxidants that fight inflammation and help protect your cells from damage.  They are also healing and help prevent illness, and the following are a few of the best:

  • Cinnamon – studies indicate it can lower blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes by 10 – 29%.  It has also been shown to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Garlic – the beneficial compound in garlic is allicin, which is formed after the garlic has been chopped or crushed.  It has been widely proven to significantly lower high blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, and help prevent hardening of the arteries.  It helps prevent cancer as well as fighting existing cancers.  It’s an antimicrobial and antifungal and can help you avoid or fight infections ranging from cold and flu to athlete’s foot and urinary tract infections.
  • Turmeric – the curcumin in turmeric is strongly anti-inflammatory and has been shown to be as effective as some drugs in reducing arthritis pain and swelling.  Fighting inflammation also helps prevent chronic disease, and curcumin has been shown to have strong anti-cancer properties as well as helping reduce the risk of heart disease, improving brain function and fighting Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Ginger – besides being another powerful antioxidant that fights inflammation and helps prevent chronic diseases like cancer, ginger is a natural way to relieve nausea and upset stomach.
  • Cayenne – the chemical that makes hot peppers spicy hot is capsaicin.  It is also very useful for pain relief in joints and muscles and is the active ingredient in some creams that are sold for that purpose.  Capsaicin has also been shown to reduce appetite and increase fat burning, to help you lose weight.  Note:  capsaicin is an oil-like substance that repels water, so if you eat too much at once, drinking water is not the answer.  Instead drink milk or eat yogurt to soothe the heat.

Add flavor to your dishes and amp up their nutritional and healing benefits by spicing them up.

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