Certain herbs and spices not only add a kick to your food but may have health benefits to boot, and what better time to experiment with new flavors than the upcoming holiday season.
Americans are told to limit their sodium intake to 1500 milligrams a day to maintain an optimal blood pressure. Added sugar can lead to weight gain and obesity. But spices are a great alternative to sugar and salt without adding all the calories and without impacting body weight or blood pressure.
Here are some common seasonings and ways in which they can improve health:
There is some evidence that cinnamon can reduce blood sugar levels and therefore may be beneficial for people with diabetes. Try ½ to 1 teaspoon a day but don’t overindulge. Very high doses can be toxic. No apple pie or French toast can go without it, but you can also add it to lattes, cereal, or sweet potatoes.
Allspice, also called Jamaica pepper, is a sweet spice that tastes similar to cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Allspice is currently under investigation to see if it has some anti-cancer properties. A key ingredient in many Jamaican jerk dishes.
Turmeric may help reduce inflammation and ease the pain of arthritis. There’s also some belief that turmeric has cancer-fighting properties and can ease upset stomach. Turmeric has a characteristic yellow color and is one of the main ingredients in curry powder. It’s used in many Indian dishes.
A compound in chili peppers may have some fat-burning capacity and was found to lower blood pressure in lab animals. Chili peppers can spice up any dish, even egg omelets.
Made from different types of bell and/or chili peppers, paprika is often used to color or season rice, stews, and soups. Paprika contains capsaicin, which is an antioxidant and helps protect your cells against damage.
Coriander is also known as cilantro. The seeds have a toasty, lemony flavor and may help lower cholesterol. Coriander can be added to Indian curries, stews, casseroles, cakes, or marinades and dressings.
Celery seed can help enhance the flavors of low-salt dishes and contains calcium and iron. Try adding it to soups and steak rubs.
This is just a “taste” of the many wonderful herbs and spice out there that can both please your palate and your primary care doctor. So instead of grabbing the saltshaker at your next meal, add liberal amounts of herbs and spices to your plate to enhance flavor and promote good health.
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