Most people’s kitchen cupboards have a range of little jars of herbs and spices – most of them three years out of date! But for the informed, these little jars contain gold dust, as the benefits of a variety of herbs and spices have increasingly become apparent. Not only do they make what could possibly be a pretty bland diet a lot tastier, they also have proven health benefits. So we have looked at some of the most popular herbs and spices that may be loitering at the back of your cupboard, and investigated what health benefits they can offer.
Firstly turmeric, which many think is just for making curries a pretty yellow colour. But the anti-inflamatory and pain relief properties of curcumin, one of its main elements, are well documented. And recent research suggests that it may also slow down or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Used worldwide, especially in Indian cuisine, cumin is naturally rich in iron and may even play a role in weight reduction.
Cinnamon, a staple in many kitchen cupboards, is naturally sweet , very low in calories and sugar-free. Lab studies show that cinnamon may help with inflammation, fend off free radicals that can damage your cells, and fight bacteria. And its cousin ginger has antioxidant properties and helps relieve stomach pain. Chili peppers, whether they be fresh, dried or crushed, will not only give any dish a kick, but also may boost metabolism and keep blood vessels healthy.
Herbs are usually best eaten fresh, but even the dried variety have definite health benefits. Rosemary is an extremely fragrant herb but is also rich in antioxidants that help prevent cell damage. Basil helps fight infections and boosts immune systems while sage can improve brain function and memory. And garlic, though strictly speaking a vegetable, can help beat the common cold, reduce cholesterol and even lower blood pressure.
There is a wealth of information on the internet about the health benefits of herbs and spices. So don’t let those little jars linger at the back of your cupboard, bring them out to make your cooking even more tasty…and help improve your family’s health.
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