When it comes to spices for health, are you aware that there are many that are beneficial for your health? Many of them, you may even have in your spice cabinet right now! There are many more spices, though, that aren’t as common that offer amazing health benefits. I was glad to learn more about these uncommon spices!
Today’s Wellness Wednesday post was contributed by Thomas Asseo, the CEO of IONutrition. He has a passion for promoting healthful eating, coupled with unique tastes and delicious flavors. You can find out more about IONutrition at IONutrition.com.
You’re probably aware of the amazing flavor and aroma that spices can lend to your food. You might also have a range of different varieties gracing the shelves of your kitchen cupboard. The reality is that spices can make a great addition to your medicine cabinet too. Many cultures across the world know about the benefits and goodness of spices, and how they can help you with various health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, digestive problems, and obesity. A variety of these spices are even popping up in various paleo dishes across the United States, and for good reason. They keep your heart healthy, fight infections and inflammations, and contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Here are five spices that are good for your health and palate, and chances are you’ve never even heard of them…
(Scientific name – Trigonella foenum-graecum)
Almost every section of the fenugreek plant is useful. People eat the leaves and flowers as a green leafy vegetable, micro greens, and sprouts. Crisp, sun-dried leaves are powdered into a spicy addition to sprinkle on food. Widely used in India and countries in the Middle East, the plant belongs to the family of legumes, beans, and peas. The seeds are yellowish brown and are used to flavor butterscotch and maple syrups. These seeds can be dry roasted or soaked before being ground to flavor food. Fenugreek, or “Methi” as it is also called, can cure digestive problems, lower cholesterol, and reverse the hardening of arteries. Skin ailments, diabetes, cancer, chronic cough, and tuberculosis, are only some other illnesses that respond very well to treatment with fenugreek.
2. Sichuan/Szechuan/Szechwan Peppercorns
(Scientific name – Xanthoxylum piperitum)
Although known by the general term “peppercorns”, this Chinese spice does not lend heat to food, but instead has a citrus or lemony flavor. A component of the typical Chinese five-spice seasoning, the pods can be added whole or coarsely pounded into food. It can also be ground to a fine powder and mixed with other spices. You probably know it as prickly ash tree, and the spice is extracted through the covering of the seedpods, which are later discarded. Packed with minerals like selenium, potassium, copper and iron, vitamins, essential oils and antioxidants, the spice increases the production of gastrointestinal enzymes and thus acts as an excellent aid for digestion. It can be used to heal wounds, stop involuntary muscles spasms, and as a cure for dry coughs. Szechwan Peppercorns are also used by Native Americans to treat toothaches.
3. Grains of Paradise
(Scientific name – Aframomum melegueta)
A well-known culinary additive in West Africa, the grains of paradise spice is derived from tiny pods that are shaped like pyramids. It adds a bit of heat and a citrusy flavor to your food, and has mild touches of cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. This spice is great for your health, as it can help relieve pain, discomfort, and inflammation and is thus a good recommendation for arthritis. It is also known to raise libido and acts as an aphrodisiac. West Africans use it for its diuretic and stimulant properties and as a cure for stomach ailments. You could chew on a few grains after your meals as a mouth freshener.
4. Nigella Seed
(Scientific name – Nigella sativa)
This spice is often confused with onion seeds or black cumin, but has a personality all of its own with a sharp, bitter taste. It is added into an Indian five-spice mix that also includes mustard, fennel, and cumin. Used to flavor dishes like dhal, kormas, butter chicken and braised lamb, Nigella is used as a topping for Nan breads too. One of the five unusual spices that are good for your health, it can cure a range of ailments from sore throat, radiation poisoning, skin diseases, and also acts as protection from the effects of chemical warfare. It is also effectively used to detoxify the body of morphine.
(Scientific name – Prunus mahaleb)
Widely used in Turkey, Greece, and other countries in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, this spice is extracted from the inner kernel of the seed of the Prunus mahaleb tree. You may know it as the St. Lucie Cherry, an extremely hardy deciduous tree. Used mainly to flavor cookies, cakes, biscuits, breads and desserts, it lends the taste of bitter almonds, sour cherries and a touch of rose. Highly effective for the treatment of kidney ailments and removing stones, the spice is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent. It also acts as a sedative and vasodilator that helps widen the walls of arteries for better blood flow.
Spices for Health
Before you go to the drug store to stock up on pharmaceutical remedies, take note of these uncommon spices that improve your health, naturally. And they’re so easy to find. The next time you go grocery shopping, check the spice aisle for these spices, and make them a fragrant addition to meals you cook. Your body will thank you.
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