We all like to add some spices in our food to make it better tasting, but what if it wasn’t only a matter of flavor but a health benefit too?

Herbs and spices are antioxidant powerhouses: One teaspoon of cinnamon packs as much antioxidants as a half cup of blueberries, and a half teaspoon of dried oregano contains the antioxidant capacity of a half cup of sweet potatoes. They’re also a feast for your senses, because they add flavor, aroma and color to each dish.

 

According to new research from Penn State University, eating a diet rich in herbs and spices reduces the body’s negative response to high-fat meals.

In the study, the group that consumed two tablespoons of herbs and spices within their meals – specifically rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika – had 30 percent lower levels of blood fats compared to those who ate the same meals without seasonings. Their blood levels of antioxidants were also 13 percent higher – a pretty powerful effect for a relatively small (and delicious) addition.

 

Here are 10 simple ways to add them to your diet:

  • Sprinkle spices into your morning cup of coffee, like cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves.
  • Add fresh mint or spearmint leaves to your water, iced tea or fruit smoothie – they’re fantastic with mango.
  • Garnish a fruit salad with a dash of cardamom or citrus zest.
  • Roast or grill fruit with rosemary – it’s amazing with peaches and plums, which are in season now.
  • Garnish black or pinto beans with fresh cilantro.
  • Grind fresh peppercorn onto your salad.
  • Add fresh basil leaves to any sandwich or wrap.
  • Stir a little paprika into melted dark chocolate and drizzle over whole nuts to make spicy bite.

Here you can find some significant nutrition facts for the most common spices:

Black pepper 

Regarded as the “king of spice,” black pepper is an incredibly popular among spices since ancient times. Commercial peppercorns available in the markets may vary in colors. However, all kinds of peppercorns are nothing but the same pepper fruit which picked up from the plant at different stages of maturity and subjected to various methods of processing. 

Black peppers have been in use since centuries for their anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent properties.

It has been found that piperine can increase absorption of selenium, B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene, as well as other nutrients from the food.

Black peppercorns contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for cellular respiration and blood cell production.

Peppercorns are a good source of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C and vitamin-A. 

 

Nutmeg 

Pleasantly aromatic, nutmeg is actually a seed (kernel) of the fruit from the Myristica fragrans tree. It is one of the highly prized spices known since antiquity for its aromatic, aphrodisiac, and curative properties. Nutmegs are evergreen trees, native to the rainforest of Indonesian Moluccas Island, also known as the Spice Islands.

Nutmeg and mace spice contain many plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have been antioxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.

The active principles in nutmeg have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as anti-fungal, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, digestive, and carminative functions.

This spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc and magnesium. 

It is also rich in many vital B-complex vitamins, including vitamin-C, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A and many flavonoid anti-oxidants like beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin that are essential for optimum health.

 

Bay leaf

Pleasantly aromatic bay leaf or bay-laurel is one of the well-recognized culinary leaf-spices in use since the earliest times. In the legends, bay laurel is depicted as the tree of the Sun god, under the celestial sign of Leo.Bay leaves give off a pleasing and sweet aroma when added to the recipes. Wilted and dried leaves indeed are strongly aromatic and can be stored for months. Its dried fruit (berries) can also be employed as a flavoring agent in the cuisine.

Bay leaf was prized highly by the Greeks and the Romans, who believed that the herb symbolizes wisdom, peace, and protection.

The spice contains many important plant-derived chemical compounds, minerals, and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.

Fresh leaves are a very rich source of vitamin-C (ascorbic acid) WHICH is one of the powerful natural antioxidant that help remove harmful free radicals from the body. Ascorbic acid also has an immune booster, wound healing, and antiviral effects.

Furthermore, its fresh leaves and herb parts are superb in folic acid.  

Bay leaves are an excellent source of vitamin-A which is required for maintaining mucosa and skin health. 

 

Cinnamon 

Cinnamon spice is one of the highly prized items that has been in use since biblical times for its fragrance, medicinal and culinary properties. This delightfully exotic, sweet-flavored spice traditionally obtained from the inner brown bark of Cinnamomum trees which when dried rolls into a tubular-sticks, known commercially as “quill.”

The active principles in the cinnamon spice known to have anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, antiseptic, local anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, rubefacient (warming and soothing), carminative and anti-flatulent properties.

Cinnamon spice has the highest antioxidant strength of all the food sources in nature. 

The active principles in this spice increase the motility of the intestinal tract and aid in digestion by increasing gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions.

 

Cumin seeds 

Widely popular for their distinctive savory flavor, cumin seeds are one of the routinely featuring ingredients in the North African, Middle-East, Western Chinese, Indian, Cuban and North Mexican cuisine. The spice is native to the Middle-East Asian region, and today, grown all over the world for its pleasantly aromatic seeds.

Cumin seeds contain many phytochemicals that are known to have antioxidant, carminative and anti-flatulent properties. The seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber.

The active principles in the cumin may improve gut motility and help in digestion by augmenting gastrointestinal juice (enzyme) secretions.

It also contains very good amounts of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, vitamin B-6, niacin, riboflavin, and other vital anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

Are you still not spicing up your food? Ef Zin Spices coming soom!

sources: www.shape.com, www.nutrition-and-you.com