Cooking with spices is a great way to liven up the flavor profile of meals without adding extra calories. On top of that, spices are concentrated sources of antioxidants and phytochemicals; this means they come with a host of health benefits. Here are five spices that can boost the flavor and health profile of any meal, and some easy ways to cook with them.
The bright yellow color of curries and mustards is imparted by turmeric. In addition to its use in ethnic cuisines, turmeric can add lively flavor to everyday foods like scrambled eggs and roasted vegetables.
Curcumin is the compound in turmeric that’s been studied for its health benefits. Its anti-inflammatory properties have been linked to reducing the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Curcumin is also believed to help relieve pain associated with inflammation-related conditions like arthritis.
Tip: Turmeric tastes best when it’s been cooked. Use it in dishes like Chicken Tagine with Green Olives. And add a dash of black pepper, which enhances turmeric’s absorption.
Eating spicy foods is good for your health. Cayenne pepper (and other chili peppers) contains capsaicin, a compound that has been touted for its metabolism-boosting effects. It’s also a heart-healthy spice because it helps prevent the damage that bad cholesterol, or LDLs, causes to arteries.
Tip: Hot sauces made with chili peppers are a great way to get a dose of capsaicin. Check out our Zipongo-recommended hot sauces for a taste-tested and health-approved option.
Dealing with an upset stomach or nausea? Ginger can help relieve your symptoms. This zesty root also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve the pain of muscle aches and arthritis.
Tip: Add ginger to Asian stir-fries, noodles and curries like Spicy Tofu Hotpot.
Cinnamon enhances the sweetness of food without adding sugar. In fact, cinnamon plays a role in helping regulate blood sugar levels. Though cinnamon is typically used in sweet dishes, it also enhances the flavors of savory dishes like Moroccan Stew.
Tip: Cinnamon tastes great raw or cooked. Sprinkle some on oatmeal, lattes or Chia Seed Pudding.
Oregano has all of the nutrient power of leafy greens in a more concentrated form. In addition to having vitamin K and fiber, oregano also comes packed with antioxidants. Oregano also has antibacterial properties that help protect against things like stomach bugs.
Tip: Oregano is a versatile spice that works in almost any savory meal. Try it in pasta dishes like our Whole Wheat Vegetable Lasagna.
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