Spices are full of antioxidants. Image by: Getty Images
Turmeric, cinnamon and cayenne pepper introduce more than great flavour into your diet: they fight cancer, lower blood sugar and boost metabolism.Registered dietitian Christy Brissette, president of 80 Twenty Nutrition, tells us how three common spices not only taste great but are good for you, too.
Benefits: Turmeric contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound that might help fight cancer. Recently, the Indian spice has been studied as a possible addition to chemotherapy treatments; studies have shown that it may help inhibit cancerous growths. Researchers are also investigating if turmeric may play a role in preventing Alzheimer's disease.
How to use it: Turmeric is delicious in scrambled eggs and smoothies, and on roasted vegetables like cauliflower, says Brissette. Most curry recipes call for both turmeric and black pepper—and not only for taste: Curcumin is not well absorbed in the gut, but piperine, found in black pepper, improves its absorption.
Benefits: Cinnamon may help people with diabetes lower their blood sugar and LDL cholesterol levels; plus, it may improve insulin sensitivity and help prevent Parkinson's disease. Cinnamon could also ward off illness; the spice contains compounds with antibacterial properties.
How to use it: Cinnamon is typically associated with sweet foods, but it can also be used in savoury dishes such as tagines and chilies. Brissette recommends adding ground cinnamon to tea or trying a sprinkle in your coffee instead of sugar or sweetener. Or throw a stick of it into a potpourri blend—the scent of cinnamon will keep your room smelling sweet and may help improve your memory.
3. Cayenne pepper
Benefits: This spice is well known for boosting metabolism and suppressing appetite. Capsaicin, the spice's active ingredient, also works as a natural pain reliever when used in topical creams that, when applied to the skin, can help manage arthritis, shingles, pain after surgery and general nerve pain. Capsaicin may also help treat circulation problems and is thought to act as a decongestant to clear your stuffy nose.
How to use it: Cayenne pepper tastes great in chilies and salsas, but Brissette suggests adding it to chocolate recipes to bring out the cocoa flavour. Kale chips, chicken, nuts, stews and even smoothies can also benefit from a hit of cayenne.
Learn about other healthy powders with great benefits.
This story was originally part of the "Spice Up Your Health" article in the April 2016 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!