Did you know that herbs and spices can do more than just flavour your food?
- Improve your heart health and reduce the risk of stroke
- Provide antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties
- Regulate your glucose and cholesterol levels
- Influence your mood and cognition
There are over 100 different herbs and spices you can try! Here are some of the best to get started with this week:
Turmeric contains curcumin, which makes it a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It has the potential to prevent age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and heart disease, and may also act as a natural antidepressant. This is because curcumin can increase the key neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.2https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric
How to use: Add your dried turmeric to scrambled eggs or rice for lovely colour and flavour. If using fresh, you can also add it to juice or smoothies. Combining with black pepper can help your body absorb turmeric too.
Ginger is another great anti-inflammatory. The active ingredient, gingerol, can reduce nausea (including morning sickness) and aid digestion. Ginger is also traditionally used to fight off colds and flu4https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16117603/ and can help with weight loss and blood glucose levels. The benefits of ginger on heart health are promising too!5https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger
How to use: Ginger is zesty and potent, and can be used fresh or dried. Fresh ginger is great for a stir-fry or to add to our Creamy Prebiotic Soup. Dried ginger is a great addition to baked goods such as gingerbread. You can also get your ginger in with some ginger ale, or add it to a healthy smoothie for a spicy kick.
Cinnamon contains an abundance of antioxidants and polyphenols. 6https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16190627/ This means that it has amazing anti-inflammatory potential, while also helping to lower cholesterol, increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels. Cinnamon may help reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and diabetes AND may also protect the brain from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.7https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon
Another reason to add cinnamon is its powerful anti-bacterial potential. This can protect against dental decay8https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22783715/ and help fight bacterial and fungal infections.
How to use: Cinnamon is a lovely warming spice that is often used in sweet dishes more than savoury. There are 2 types available. The true type is Ceylon cinnamon. You can add your cinnamon to your cup of tea or a cheeky Blueberry Apple Muffin (Gluten-Free!). It is also a great flavour to add to meat, so add it to your favourite marinade blend.
Cayenne is a type of chilli pepper that is great for reducing inflammation. The active ingredient, capsaicin, is what makes peppers spicy. Capsaicin can be an effective pain reliever and help lower blood sugar levels. They’re full of vitamins A and C, and can contribute to your levels of B6, potassium, magnesium and Vitamin K.9https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-benefits-of-cayenne-pepper
These unique attributes make cayenne pepper beneficial for reducing inflammation in your body. This is great for your heart, with the potential to improve cardiovascular function.10https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4477151/
How to use: For fresh cayenne, think about adding this to your vegetable stir fry. Otherwise, add your cayenne powder to a stew or favourite dip. You might even sprinkle over your cooked breakfast or add to our Veg-packed Crustless Quiche for a little spice. Remember to start slow, as too much pepper can lead to digestive discomfort or heartburn.