These days, fast food chains and restaurants receive a lot of scrutiny over the nutritional value, calorie content, and fat content in the foods they serve. As a result, more and more people have begun cooking their own meals at home. If you’re one of those people, you’re already on the right track, but there’s more you can do. Here are some of the tastiest and healthiest spices you can add to your dishes.
#1 – Turmeric
Turmeric is the spice that’s most well-known for giving the yellow mustard Americans love to put on their hot dogs its bright yellow color. In fact, that bright yellow is caused by an antioxidant known as curcumin, which has numerous health benefits. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory, a potent anticarcinogenic antioxidant, and a key player in improving your brain function by boosting a hormone called BDNF, or Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. Check out this tropical turmetic smoothie recipe.
#2 – Cinnamon
Cinnamon is another of the healthiest spices, and just about everyone has it in their cupboards. It’s a fantastic addition to everything from French toast to oatmeal, and it can even spice up your favorite chili recipe. Cinnamon has been shown to reduce the human body’s insulin requirement, which makes the insulin your body produces more effective. As such, sprinkling cinnamon onto numerous dishes may actually reduce your chances of getting diabetes later in life.
#3 – Sea Salt
While you should never completely replace iodized salt in your diet since iodine is vital to your health, switching some of your daily sodium out for sea salt can be very beneficial. Sea salt is known to contain vitamins, minerals, and trace elements your body may have a hard time getting from other food sources. For the best possible nutrition content, look for varieties of sea salt that aren’t pure white. Pink and gray varieties seem to have the most nutritional value.
#4 – Cayenne Pepper
If you’re looking to raise the bar when it comes to heat, you can’t go wrong with cayenne pepper. It’s one of the healthiest spices in your cupboard, and it’s also one of the hottest. Cayenne pepper’s heat comes from a chemical called capsaicin, which is a natural pain suppressant. It can be applied topically in small amounts to numb pain, but ingesting it regularly can also do the trick by depleting the substance your nerve cells use to transmit pain signals to your brain.
#5 – Oregano
Oregano may be more of an herb, but it’s earned its place on the list of healthiest spices due to its antimicrobial effects. If you’re prone to infections, including everything from sinus infections to infections in wounds, regularly consuming oregano can give your immune system a helping hand. It’s been clinically proven to kill bacteria from the inside out, making it one of the most potent spices you have in your rack.
#6 – Cumin
Cumin is very popular in Indian cuisine, Mexican foods, and even American chili and taco mixes. Like turmeric, cumin is a great source of cancer-preventing compounds called antioxidants, which attach themselves to free radicals and escort them from your body before they can do any damage to tissues. Cumin also contains natural anti-inflammatory substances which can improve your overall health significantly and even reduce pain.
#7 – Ginger
Ginger is very popular in Asian cuisine, and it’s been one of the healthiest spices for thousands of years. Ginger has been known to fight everything from muscle pain to menstrual cramps thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, and it also contains compounds that can lessen the severity of nausea. A 1999 study published in Parasites showed that large doses of ginger taken in capsule form would also kill several different types of parasites common in subtropical regions around the world.
#8 – Garlic
Notorious for its use in Italian and Asian cuisines, especially, garlic is one of the most delicious and healthiest spices you can add to your favorite dishes. Garlic contains massive amounts of selenium, which is a mineral that can help detoxify your body. If you have any cardiovascular risk factors, you’re in luck – garlic also thins the blood, which can lessen these risks. Though most people tend to cook their garlic, studies have shown that it’s more potent raw. In fact, in its natural, raw state, garlic is nature’s most powerful antifungal, anti-parasitic, antiviral, and antibacterial food.
#9 – Celery Seed
In the United States, celery seed is commonly used in southern versions of potato and tuna salads. However, with its amazing health benefits, it’s a spice that you should add to many dishes. Celery seed can help balance your body’s pH, which is the very core of Eastern medicine. In fact, Westerners’ bodies are very acidic when compared to other parts of the world, and this may be related to increased incidence of weight problems, heart conditions, and more. Adding celery seed to soups, salads, meats, and even vegetables can help alkalize the body and may reduce these risks.
Many of the healthiest spices in the world are already in your spice rack. Chances are good you already use garlic, cinnamon, and maybe even ginger regularly, but if the rest of these don’t get much attention, consider adding some of them to your next dish. They’re pleasing to the taste buds, and they’ll help you feel better over time.