Monday, November 16th, 2009

The Spicier Side of Life

spices1Traditionally, Indian cuisine uses a lot of spices. It is hard to imagine an Indian dish, which does not have the fragrant aroma of spices and often when we think of these dishes, the aroma that they exude catches our imagination. Besides making our dishes mouthwatering these spices help us fight diseases. We thought to investigate this part a bit and have brought a low down on disease-fighting spices.

  • Turmeric. This indispensable spice of Indian cuisine gets medicinal properties from the yellow-orange pigment-curcumin. Enriched with iron it is a useful ally in fighting anaemia and this powerful antioxidant is able to neutralize free radicals, chemicals that can travel through the body and cause great amounts of damage to healthy cells and cell membranes. This is important in many diseases, such as arthritis, where free radicals are responsible for the painful joint inflammation and eventual damage to the joints. The antioxidant-goodness in turmeric becomes useful in preventing the oxidation of cholesterol, thereby reducing risk of heart diseases. Epidemiological studies show that in elderly Indian populations, among whose diet turmeric is a common spice, levels of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s are very low.
  • Mustard seeds. Throw in few mustard seeds in smoking oil and the resultant splatter begins the journey to a delectable dish. Doing this more so as a ritual, we never realise that these paltry seeds pack a punch and go a long way in keeping us healthy. Mustard seeds are rich in selenium, an important trace mineral for our immune function.
  • Black pepper. Bland dishes crave for black pepper. The best buddy of table salt is good for your digestion. It stimulates taste buds, which increases the secretion of hydrochloric acid, improving the digestion of food once it reaches stomach. If you are watching your weight, keep pepper close because it enhances your metabolism.
  • Coriander. This spice is high on repute in the list of healing spices. In parts of Europe, coriander has traditionally been referred to as an “anti-diabetic” plant. In parts of India, it has traditionally been used for its anti-inflammatory properties. In the United States, coriander has recently been studied for its cholesterol-lowering effects. The anti-bacterial compound in coriander helps you fight food-borne infections.
  • Cumin. The peppery flavour of cumin seeds is good for digestion and is replete with iron to fight anaemia.
  • Clove. An antiseptic, anesthetic, stimulant, expectorant, aromatic, antispasmodic, astringent—the small clove has many uses. The active compound in clove is eugenol, which has made it the subject of numerous health studies.
  • Cinamon. The fragrant, sweet and warm spice can help you manage your blood sugar levels. Seasoning a high carb food with cinnamon lessens its impact on your blood sugar levels. It prolongs the time needed for emptying the meals thereby reducing the rise in blood sugar after eating.

So, if you have been shunning the curries, thinking they are spicy, time to make friends with them, and watch your health benefit.

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Category: Super Foods
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