Spice up your taste buds with healthy spices in your diet!
Spices not only just excite your taste buds but are composed of an impressive list of phyto-nutrients, essential oils, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that are essential for overall wellness. Spices have been integral part part of our food since centuries, and today, even become more relevent for us. Thanks to the Arab and European explorers, whose contributions in spreading them from their place of origin to the rest of the planet has immensely broaden their use and popularity all over the world!
Spices can be categorized botanically according to their source of plant part as follows:
Leaves of aromatic plants: Examples include bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, etc.
Fruits or seeds: Examples include fennel, nutmeg, coriander, fenugreek, mustard, and black pepper etc.
Roots or bulbs: Examples include garlic, galangal, turmeric, ginger, etc.
Bark: Cinnamon, Cassia, etc.
Why to include spices in our diet? Spices contain an impressive list of plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties. They have been in use since ancient times for their anti-inflammatory, carminative, anti-flatulent properties.
The components in the spices have been found to have anti-clotting action (prevent clogging of platelets in the blood vessels) and thus help easing blood flow, preventing stroke and coronary artery disease.
The active principles in the spices may help in smooth digestion through augmenting intestinal tract motility as well as increasing the digestion power by stimulating excessive secretion of gastro-intestinal enzymes inside the gut.
Throat gargling with tepid thyme water can help relieve sore throat and bronchitis symptoms. Thyme is also being used as an anti-septic mouthwash in the treatment of caries and gingivitis.
Decoction of certain healthy spices is taken by mouth for the treatment of colds, influenza, mild fevers, indigestion, stomach upset, and painful menstruation. Spices are also known to have natural anti-helminthes (control worm infestation) function in traditional medicines.
The essential volatile oils in certain spices (cloves, peppers, etc.) may work as a rubefacient (soothes skin around the site of application and improves the local blood circulation), increasing the flow of blood to make the skin feel warmer. They are being applied as a popular home remedy for arthritis and sore muscles, and used either as poultice or in hot baths.
Spice's essential oils are being used in the aromatherapy as well as de-odorants in the perfume industry.
Spices contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps in controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Culinary uses of spices Spices can be aromatic or pungent in flavors and peppery or slightly bitter in taste. In order to keep their fragrance and flavor intact, they are generally added in the cooking recipes at the final moment of cooking since prolonged cooking results in evaporation of much of their essential oils.
Spices are being used in the preparation of season soups, barbecue sauces, pickling and as a main ingredient in a variety of curry powders.
Spices along with some seasonal herbs are being used to enhance the flavor and taste of vegetable, chicken, fish and meat dishes.
Some healthy spices like cloves, cardamom, coriander...etc., are also been used in flavor drinks.