In ancient times, spices were more than just a condiment added to various foods for flavor. In fact, in many cultures, spices were used not only for consumption but for medicines as well. There was really no distinction between spices that were used to flavor food from spices that were used for medicine. In fact, spices were so valuable that they were often used as articles of exchange and trade.
As a student of functional nutrition, it is always my goal to find foods that not only taste amazing, but can aid in the healing of various health issues.
Here are a few of my favorite spices and how I like to use them to perform double duty.
For my coffee lovers, who also love the various creamers and syrups but are trying to avoid dairy and sugar. Consider adding cinnamon to your brew. Why?? Cinnamon is not only a natural sweetener, but it has been shown to lower blood sugar, which is a big deal if you are diabetic or borderline. It also has anti inflammatory properties. And I love it mixed in tea and in my chicory root coffee.
Turmeric, is another favorite, this brightly colored spice is so commonly used in Indian cooking, I would almost question the authenticity of any Indian dish that doesn’t include it. Turmeric is anti inflammatory, provides anti-oxidants and may also improve memory, as evidenced by the fact, that Indians have the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s globally.
Another favorite around here is ginger. I always have a few numbs of ginger in my freezer, not just for cooking but for stomach aches, nausea, or just as aid for digestion. Did you know that ginger, though spicy is anti-inflammatory? It is an anti-oxidant, anti-viral, reduces arthritis pain, relieves asthma and may even protect the brain from oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Wow!
I could go on! But the point is this, if we’re trying to live our healthiest and to minimize dis-ease, I think we can take a page or two from the ancients. They seemed to understand that food should not only nourish and stop hunger, but should simultaneously have a medical benefit as well.
How would you incorporate healing spices into your daily regimen?