Spices and Herbs – Health Benefits
and Fun Facts
Spices and Herbs – Health Benefits and Fun Facts
We have been using spices and herbs in our cooking since ancient times. Not only do they add flavour and zing to an otherwise bland dish, they impart plenty of health benefits too.
Several herbs have curative properties derived from the unique plant nutrients, anti-oxidants, enzymes oils and vitamins. Regular consumption of these wonderful natural foods boosts immunity, helps the body fight germs and helps remove toxins. Adding spices and herbs to our diet is like popping immunity boosting pills minus the side effects.
Scientific studies and research has shown that some herbs possess anti-inflammatory properties because the oils inhibit the production of inflammatory enzymes in the body. For example, basil helps to reduce pain and swellings. It is also useful in relieving asthma and other respiratory infections. Basil is packed with essential oils and anti-oxidants that help reduce blood sugar, triglyceride and cholesterol improving cardiovascular health.
Basil originated in India, its Hindi name being “Tulsi”, meaning Sacred Basil. In fact, the basil plant is worshipped in Hindu cultures. The Thai variety of basil is the main ingredient in green Thai curries while it also occupies an important place in Italian cooking.
Several other herbs also possess various unique compounds and nutrients that aid the body in fighting diseases by boosting immunity levels. But now, let's discuss the health benefits of spices like peppercorns, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise... Most of these spices have a very strong aroma and pungent taste.
Pepper held center-stage during the Spice Trade Era. It was the most expensive spice back then. The use of spices in general was considered to be a sign of affluence. Spices were not only used as a seasoning to add flavour to the food but also as medicines. In fact, several of the present day home remedies find their origins in these ancient practices.
Cinnamon, for example, is known for its anti-oxidant properties and enhances glucose sensitivity. Sprinkling powdered cinnamon on your breakfast cereal not only enhances the taste, but gives you a healthy dose of anti-oxidants.
My grandma's home remedy for a toothache was a few drops of clove oil. Its anti-fungal and anti-viral properties ensure positive results in dental care. Cloves are an important ingredient of the Indian Spice mix known as “Garam Masala”.
Nutmeg is the seed portion from the nutmeg fruit. Used in powdered form, its delicate flavour goes well in seasoning desserts, sweets, sauces, pies and rice dishes. Nutmeg contains chemicals that alters the mood or consciousness, and in sufficiently high quantities may induce delusions, hallucinations or deep sleep. So, it is best used sparingly.
Several other Information About Spices and herbs are commonly used and all of them provide various health benefits. Spices have a short shelf life, so the trick is to buy whole spices in small quantities and powder them as required. A little goes a long way when it comes to herbs and spices. So, here’s to spicing up your life and boosting immunity!