In one of the previous articles I wrote about the matter of using spices taking under consideration the differences in content and the influence of particular products on our health. In this guide I will try to develop this subject and point out the spices which should definitely be a part of healthy kitchen because of their unique properties.
You should definitely read:Good and bad spices
Good and bad spices
Looking at the results of different kinds of research published within the last few years, you can say that curcuma is the queen of spices, when it comes to the pro-health advantages. Apart from many other features, the substances found in curcuma show anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-depressive action! It’s also highly possible that its compounds positively influence the lipid and carbohydrate economy in the body. Curcuma has been also used as a support of inflammatory diseases of digestive tract, indigestion or neurodegenerative diseases.
As the culinary additive, this spice influences more the colour of dishes than their taste. However, it can change taste, too, but in a connection with other spices – the most popular mix including curcuma is curry. You can add this spice separately or in a form of mix to different kinds of dishes, both, with meat, or vegetarian. It also works well as an addition to rice or different sauces served cold.
The root of ginger is a very valuable spice, as well as a raw material containing a packet of bio-active substances which can influence positively our bodies. Compounds found in ginger, among other functions, support the digestive processes by stimulating the production of digestive acids and by increasing the release of bile. Additionally, this spice supplies a lot of strong antioxidants which protect the cells from adverse influence of free radicals. These compounds also show anti-inflammatory action, which, taking under consideration the fact of strong antioxidant stress on the one hand, and permanent inflammation on the other, are the cause of many current diseases, make ginger particularly precious addition to diet (there are reasons to believe it can support the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis). Apart from the mentioned advantages of ginger, compounds found in its root can probably support losing weight, are anti-cancer and – attention – lift the level of testosterone (this effect was observed in one of the scientific studies)!
Ginger can be used in many ways in the kitchen, both, fresh, or dried and ground. It works well with fish, meat, vegetables, soups, and other dishes.
Cinnamon is another spice of which the intriguing pro-health potential has been proven in scientific research. The substances found in it influence positively the carbohydrate economy (it improves the insulin sensitivity). Cinnamon is mainly advised to diabetics, as well as people with high risk of developing diabetes. Additionally, the compounds found in this spice slow down emptying stomach which is why the feeling of satiety is longer after eating meals, which also matters for people losing weight. Besides, cinnamon is a rich source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. The research done on cell cultures suggests, that this spice contains substances of anti-cancer action.
When it comes to the culinary use, cinnamon works really well with sweet dishes, especially those based on fruits, and some beverages. You can easily add it to the morning porridge, natural yoghurt, fruit salad, tea or coffee. Cinnamon, just like vanilla, intensifies sweet taste. In other words, when you add it to a dish or drink, you will think it is much sweeter than it really is.
Cayenne pepper (chili) is famous for its hot taste and warming properties. This spice can also act in another way. It is proven that cayenne pepper shows thermogenic action thanks to capsaicin found in it. That’s the reason why this spice supports losing weight by intensifying energy expenditure (to produce heat). This effect is so evident, that it has been noticed by the producers of products reducing body fat. Nowadays, the extracts from cayenne pepper can be found in majority of fat burners with thermogenic effect. This spice is also known for its abilities as painkiller, as well as antioxidant potential. There are reasons to believe that the compounds found in this spice are anti-cancer.
The culinary use of cayenne pepper is quite wide, however, not everybody likes its hot taste in dishes. Practically speaking, chili works well with meat or vegetarian dishes, and with drinks, such as cocoa.
It is supposed that you can fall in love with basil not only because of its culinary properties. This spice has many interesting features, among others, apart from antioxidant action, it influences very positively the carbohydrate economy. According to research from the past few years, basil helps lower high blood glucose. It is connected, on the one hand, with the influence of its substances on the production of insulin, and on the other, with its influence on the activity of receptors which read the signals sent from the mentioned hormone.
When it comes to the culinary use, basil work really well with Italian cuisine. A trivial dish containing mozzarella cheese, tomato and olive oil gains original taste and aroma thanks to the presence of fresh or dried basil.
Using spices is often identified with unhealthy eating habits, as there are a lot of campaigns suggesting lowering the amount of salt in diet and there is more information on the “chemicals” found in universal spices available in shops. Practically speaking, not all the spices are an unwanted addition to diet! Some of them contain many substances precious for our health!