6 of the Healthiest Spices to Keep in Your Kitchen

Each time you add spices to your baked goods, breakfast items, and dinner dishes you’re doing much more than simply giving your meals great flavor. You’re also ensuring that they’re packed with health benefits and key nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Make sure your spice rack is stocked with these six super spices  — they’ll help fight disease, keep your heart healthy, and reduce inflammation in the body.

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1. Cinnamon

This spice, which adds sweet, warm, and toasty flavors to your food, is packed with health benefits. The Huffington Post notes that cinnamon contains iron, calcium, manganese, and fiber. “Cinnamon contains substances that work as antioxidants to protect cells against damage caused by harmful free radicals — substances found in the environment and inside the body that destroy cells,” Elisa Zied, R.D., author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips, told the Huffington Post.

In addition, Organic Authority says that ½ teaspoon of cinnamon per day can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol. The fragrant spice may even be able to help treat type 2 diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and increasing the amount of insulin the body produces, Organic Authority explains. There are simple ways to add cinnamon to your daily diet; Web MD suggests adding 1.25 teaspoons to your oatmeal, sprinkling half a teaspoon over ground coffee before brewing, or topping your latte or hot cocoa with it.

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2. Oregano

Oregano provides your dishes with warm, aromatic, and slightly bitter flavors. Interestingly, a United States Department of Agriculture study examined 27 herbs and found that, gram for gram, oregano has the highest antioxidant activity. Livestrong adds that this spice, which is part of the mint family, is able to kill germs just as well as prescription antibiotics, such as penicillin, streptomycin, and vancomycin, and can even inhibit the growth of some forms of bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses.

In addition, 20 grams of dried oregano contains 333.8 milligrams of potassium, .88 milligrams of zinc, 8.8 milligrams of iron, 2.2 grams of protein, 315.2 milligrams of calcium, .92 milligrams of magnesium, and 8.56 grams of fiber, Livestrong explains. Ready to head to the kitchen and start cooking with this super spice? Fitness suggests adding flavor to your tomato soup by adding ¾ teaspoon oregano per one can, or adding ½ teaspoon to about 2 cups of pasta or pizza sauce.

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3. Rosemary

Rosemary’s pine-like qualities add distinct and delicious flavors to a number of dishes, including lamb, chicken, marinades, pasta sauce, breads, and roasted vegetables. In addition to enhancing your favorite savory dishes, She Knows states that antioxidant-packed rosemary also helps reduce inflammation in the body, which may help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation.

Medical News Today notes that rosemary contains carnosic acid, a phytochemical that can fight off free radical damage in the brain. Fitness adds that rosemary also has the ability to stop gene mutations that could lead to cancer. Furthermore, because of its ability to prevent damage to blood vessels, it may play a role in keeping your heart healthy.

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4. Turmeric

Part of the ginger family, this bright yellow spice contains a powerful substance called curcumin, which is responsible for many of turmeric’s health benefits. Web MD notes that turmeric may help reduce inflammation and block the growth of certain kinds of tumors. Furthermore, preliminary research suggests that curcumin might protect against certain skin diseases, Alzheimer’s, colitis, stomach ulcers, and high cholesterol, according to Web MD.

Additionally, The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that the antioxidants in turmeric can fight cancer-causing free radicals and may even reduce or help prevent some of the damage they cause. Turmeric may also play a role in preventing atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque that can block arteries and eventually cause a heart attack or stroke, per the University of Maryland Medical Center.

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5. Cumin

Cumin has a bold, earthy flavor that’s perfect for dishes such as curry, couscous, hummus, tacos, and fajitas. This great-tasting spice is also good for you. The Huffington Post says cumin may help lower blood glucose levels and has antibacterial properties. According to SFGate, like turmeric, cumin contains curcumin, which may support heart health, reduce your risk for anemia, and help fight infections.

Interestingly, cooking with cumin can help prevent an iron deficiency — SFGate notes that one teaspoon contains 4 milligrams of iron, or 22 percent of the recommended daily value. Livestrong commends cumin for its ability to aid in digestion. The spice helps stimulate the liver to secrete more bile, which assists in the breakdown of fats and the absorption of nutrients, thus leading to healthier digestion.

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6. Ginger

Consisting of pungent, earthy, and citrus flavors, ginger tastes great in a myriad of dishes, including baked goods, marinades, and coffee drinks. Lifehack explains that ginger is a good source of chromium, magnesium, and zinc, which can prevent the chills and improve blood flow. Furthermore, it’s able to improve the body’s absorption of essential nutrients.

The University of Maryland Medical Center says that ginger may help prevent or treat nausea caused by motion sickness, pregnancy, and chemotherapy. It may also soothe an upset stomach and can help reduce pain and inflammation caused by osteoarthritis, states the University of Maryland Medical Center.

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